The Cheesecake Factory

Another disappointing summer comes to a close and after those long evening rides the prospect of a long, cold and dark winter doesn’t seem so appealing. Kiss good-bye to long evening rides and cruising in shorts. The season of ice, rain and darkness is upon us.
A couple of years ago, a small group of Exeter riders were faced with that same old predicament, without the funds or time to continuously travel over an hour to the nearest indoor park.
“It was the beginning of the winter when we were street riding around Exeter. We had heard about this massive warehouse that was empty so we thought we would try to find it,” says 24-year-old, Radio Bikes team rider, Jamie Skinner. The plan was to transform the wasteland into a private and most importantly sheltered skate park. It was pretty clear that the warehouse hadn’t seen any action for quite some time, so a major clean-up operation was set in place.
18-year-old Harry Mills Wakley was another one of the scallywags that could be found down at the warehouse any given day of the week, “At the start there was nothing in there and gypsies had been stripping all the copper wire and leaving human faeces. We spent ages cleaning it up to make it a more pleasant place to ride,” explains Harry. “From then on the scene down there got stronger and stronger, the whole crew was always tidying, painting and building ramps. We spent loads of cold winter days riding there and sometimes with a crew of 30 riders there.”
Hours in the warehouse stacked up that winter, and the warehouse was occupied nearly every-day; building and building ramps. Nestled away in a forgotten corner of busy industrial estate in Exeter ‘The Cheesecake Factory’ was born.

James Holmes Flipping out at the Factory - Jason Colledge

James Holmes Flipping out at the Factory – Jason Colledge

There were enough left over tables and chairs from the once busy warehouse to set up, but the riders soon out grew their resources, sending them further afield to in search of materials.
“A few of us would meet up late every few weeks to get wood to build more ramps. Sneaking into building sites, stealing crates; we took anything we could get our hands on,” says Jamie. But like any good but unprotected spot, word got out and the warehouse became as busy as the other parks in the area, and the only option for evening riders. “It started to get real good and people were coming down, destroying what we had made, so we decided to make the place secure so only we could ride it, we boarded up all the doors and windows and put our own lock on it!”
Eventually, like everything good in this world, the Cheesecake Factory’s life was a short one. New owners took on the warehouse and the contents of the new indoor park were stripped.
“I really can’t believe we managed to keep that set up for nearly 2 years with no problems,” says Jamie, reminiscent on the golden days. “But all good things come to an end. It definitely helped the scene in Exeter stay strong over the winters.”

Jamie Skinner and James Holmes from CSG UK on Vimeo.

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James Holmes

James ‘Home Boy’ Holmes goes by many names:  Homebase, Holmes under the Hammer, Homer, to name but a few. That aside, he is one of the riders pushing the BMX community in the South-west. After picking up a couple of fresh new sponsors the 21 year old has stacked up a list of video parts and is starting to get recognised.

281012_10151124565259503_349005231_oWhen did you start riding/ how long?
I started quite late compared to most, just before my 17th birthday so nearly 5 years.

Who are your sponsors?
GTbikes, Xposure parts and CSG

Who do you ride with?
So the main Exeter crew: Skinner, Harry, James curry and the rest. I grew up and started riding in Crediton though so I also really love riding with Rob Miller and Martin Balman, those guys were the only people to ride with back in the day.

Who are the best local riders?
Everyone in Exeter rides at a ridiculously high level right down to the young guns, if I had to name names I would say Skinner and Josh Kew have been killing it at the top of the Exeter scene for years. Harry and Curry are the guys to watch at the moment, they keep doing crazy tech stuff on a daily basis.

Photo by Tom Goldsmith

What trips have you done?
I went to Barcelona twice in the last year, it’s an amazing city and there’s endless stuff to ride, it’s like the sort of city you’d find on a skate Xbox game or something, like everything has been built to ride. Also we’ve been to unit23 indoor skate park in Scotland twice, really fun place to run, one of the best indoor skate parks in the world and the locals are so sound, just a shame it’s a 10hour drive really.

Any planned trips?
Travelling with the Exeter boys is always fun so hopefully we’ll get a couple trips sorted for 2013. CSG always seem keen to put on trips and stuff so something with them would be cool, we’ll see, travelling’s definitely one of the best parts about BMX so I always want to jump at any chance to get away.

What else do you do besides riding?
Work too much, hang with friends, partying with the riders is always entertaining. I used to surf but rarely get to do that these days, anything active really, I hate the thought of wasting all your free time doing nothing.

Who are the photographers you work with?
The south west has quite a few sick photographers. Tom Goldsmith was the main one we shot with before he left for Uni, Jon williams, Jason Fooman and Andy Murtagh are all sick. Northern John is Great to shoot with and takes the photos for Xposures Magazine ads so that cool. but I’d say my favourite local photographer is Martin Balman, always fun and never pressured, never normally even planned, just go for a ride and if there’s something I want to do, I know Martin will be down to get a flick and he’s pretty good at getting the timing right first time which is always a bonus. You can check all these guys out on Flickr.com

Who are your favourite pros?
Dennis Enarson, Chester Blacksmith, Alex Kennedy, Jason Phelan

Photo by Jason colledge

Best competition results?
I love riding comps, I’ve only ever entered local ones but always get hyped up and want to try something new or scary, for some reason this seems to work and I end up placing ok, winning 2012 cookie jam was a sick feeling and a bit of a shock as most of the guys in the final I consider better riders than me.

What’s the scariest spot you’ve ridden? What did you do on it?
Mmm not sure what the scariest spot I’ve ridden is because its more about the trick you’re doing on that spot, the scariest thing I have ever done is a bar-spin over the big door at Barcelona sea wall, just because of the height and speed at which I’d be doing the trick, plus my hands were majorly sweaty so that didn’t help, I was fairly sure I was going to mess myself up real bad and as I had been really unorganised before the trip I’d forgotten to buy travel insurance so if I did crash it would have cost me a fortune ha.

7346512994_6ed05070c5_bWhat’s the worst injuries you’ve sustained and how?
I broke my left tibia (lower leg) and ankle doing a really simple trick at the skate park, it always seems to be the way, when you’re out filming doing something really scary and you crash you come off fine but when you’re messing around having fun you end up breaking your leg haha. I remember because I didn’t scream in pain or anything nobody really thought I’d done anything serious I remember a mate saying “just walk it off you’ve probably just sprained it” in the end I sat on my bike and pushed myself to the car park with my working leg and waited for a lift to the hospital. I ended up spending three nights in hospital and had two operations, a metal plate and like 4 screws put in so I don’t think I would have been able to walk it off….

Nice one Holmes