R.I.P. Encinitas dirt  credit: James Ayres

It was a rumor no one wanted to believe; the trails at the Y were scheduled to be plowed the 7th or 8th of September. How could one of the best spots in Southern California be getting axed? Who knows, but I’m sure it had something to do with the almighty dollar. While the place was a blast to ride, it probably didn’t see as much action as the Y’s skatepark did, and as a result, it’s getting replaced by something that will probably generate more income. A good business decision I suppose, but one I definitely don’t like.

See, the Y had things you can’t find anywhere else; good, fun warm-up sections, over-vert berms that were just as much fun to ride as the jumps themselves, and something you just can’t get enough of: a good vibe. Everyone who rode there (in my personal experience) was super cool; on any given Sunday, you could session with Jason Richardson, Chris Moeller, Neal Wood, Robbie Miranda, Barry Nilson, Chad Roberts, and a ton of other lesser-known guys who were all down for one thing: fun. On a good day, sessions could go 30 guys deep; sometimes more, and I don’t think I ever saw even one person leave without a smile on their face.

Barry Nilson owned this berm; he carved it higher and faster than anyone else I’ve ever seen before.  credit: James Ayres

One group of friends that I will especially miss is the “30 & Over” crew that used to show up for the 9-11:45AM session on Sunday mornings. Most of the time it was Chris Moeller, Neal, Barry, Chad, Vann Johnson, Stan Roper, and occasionally, Hippie Shawn, Mike Smith and Tyler Brown (who’s nowhere near 30, but is so damn good we let him stay anyway). These guys are an absolute blast and I’ll miss riding with them just as much as I will the jumps themselves. We had some great sessions out there. Things that will probably stay with me the longest: watching Barry pedal off the backside of the second step up into the berm and carve that thing like a Thanksgiving turkey, watching Paul Kintner 360 just about every set in the place, both regular and opposite, Chris Rosales’ super clicked turndowns, YMCA builder Miguel (sorry, I can’t think of his last name) boosting sets higher than I’ve ever seen anyone… the list could go on and on…

Chris Rosales cranks a turndown over Encinitas’ last set.  credit: James Ayres

During the last big session, I got a few quotes from some of the guys about what they thought of the place’s demise…

“It’s pretty typical; whether the trails are sanctioned or not, supported or not, it’s only a matter of time before they get torn down. It’s sad, but at the same time it’s to be expected. I’ve enjoyed my time here; it was what it was. I’ll miss Pat and the Orange County 30-and-Over crew. It’s kind of fun to ride with Chad, Barry (Nilson), and (Chris) Moeller, and watch those guys go off and have fun. That’s how it goes. I feel bad for Pat most of all, because he was the one who made this place a work of art rather than just a trails place. Such is life… we move on.” —Jason Richardson (MCS/B-52)

Chad Roberts getting his grunt on. It’s hard to see, but this berm is so over-vert it’s ridiculous.  credit: James Ayres

“This is my Sunday and I have absolutely no other place that I can think of to go ride on Sundays anymore. I’m married and I only get so much time to ride and this is my Sunday; Sheep isn’t it. So I don’t know where to go. I’m super bummed. It’s going to make me cry when I have to leave.” —Chad Roberts (Haro/Shimano)

“I’ve been riding long enough to see places like Centennial Park, Parks, everything on the West Coast that’s been big go, and this is just one of those things. I’m glad to have been a part of it while it was here. I’ve had a lot of good times here, ridden with a lot of good friends; the 30-and-Over crew has been the greatest. This place was keeping us young; it’s the fountain of youth and now it’s been capped. We’ll just have to find something else. The turns here are epic, the jumps are great, the people are wonderful; it’s worthwhile to drive an hour each direction just to ride. We just have to figure out where to go next. —Barry Nilson

“With this place getting torn down, it means I’m going to have to dig back at home again, which is an inspiration, but it means a lot of kids aren’t going to have a place to ride. It means a lot of beginners are going to have a hard time finding a place that’s friendly enough for them to learn to do gaps—and I’m one of those beginners. Face it; a year ago hardly any of us could even roll in and now we’re addicted to them. It’s going to make us progress; we’ve got to find dirt again.”—Hippy Shawn

“This place is amazing; we come out here every Sunday and just shred it up. It’s disappointing that it’s not going to be here anymore, but what can you do? Start building somewhere else, I guess. The big line is going better than it ever has today; everything flows so good… it’s a bummer to see it go.” —Tyler Brown

“It sucks. It’s one of the last places in Southern California really worth spending a couple of hours riding at that’s maintained by somebody else. ” —Neal Wood

For me it’s a real bummer because it’s only about 10 minutes away from work and I can ride here every day it’s open. That part of it is my own selfishness. The rest of the park is just so fun; there are so many different levels of riding here; everything from the little kiddie rollers to the pro section—everything’s just so much fun. Pat builds GREAT berms—I’ll meet people who have never ridden here before but they’ve heard about the berms. It’s going to be a bummer to see it go.” —Chris Rosales (Haro flow)

I’m sure in time, a new place will come along, but I doubt it’s going to be as good as Encinitas was. The main builder there, a guy I only know as Pat, raised jump-building to an art form, and what he created out there was a pure masterpiece. Pat, thanks for all your hard work; it definitely did not go unnoticed or unappreciated, and it meant a lot to me (as I’m sure it did countless others) to have that place to session.

Barry again, during the last big session before destruction.  credit: James Ayres

For now, enjoy the photos. And if you’re one of the lucky few who happens to have trails and a good scene, whatever you do, don’t take it for granted. RIP Encinitas dirt.