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.

Jamie Skinner

Over recent years, Exeter’s Jamie Skinner has been leading the charge of young local riders. He’s got 24 years under his belt of which 11 have been on a BMX and his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Now, with stylish new edits popping up on the net and double page adverts appearing in magazines, the boy is making a name for himself.

IMG_7419Who are your sponsors?
The Boarding House, CSG and Radio Bikes

Who do you ride with?

“Besides Harry Mills Wakley and James Holmes, I ride with a lot of different people but most of the time with James curry, Keith Barlow, Reece Parr.”

Who are the best local riders?
“I would say that the level of riding in Exeter is of a pretty high standard, I think to single out one person would be too hard. Everyone is the best in their own way.”

IMG_6118What trips have you done?
“We went over to Estonia at the beginning of the year to watch simple sessions and went up to Liverpool last month to visit Harry for a weekend. Just got back from Scotland, after spending 9 days riding unit23, which is the largest skate park in the UK. On the way back we stopped off in Liverpool for 2 days and went to check out a BMX jam in Chester. Was a great day and we all came away with cash and beer prizes.”

Any trips planned?
“So far the only plans I have is to go to Barcelona at the beginning of next year and to Estonia in March to simple session. I’m sure that there will be many more trips throughout the year.”

IMG_7026What else do you do besides riding?
“If I’m not riding my bike I’m working, eating, sleeping or driving 100 miles plus to ride.”

Who are the photographers you work with?
Before Tom goldsmith went to Uni in Cardiff last year I used to shoot photos with him every week. Other that Tom I haven’t really shot any photos for a while.

IMG_6535Best competition results?
“Last month I and Harry mills were asked by our sponsor the boarding house to represent them in a BMX shop battle where we battle it out against other riders from shops all over the UK. I was so surprised that we managed to get all the way to the semi-finals before getting knocked out.”

What are the worst injuries you’ve sustained and how?
“I’ve had quite a few injures but I think the worse one would have to be a broken leg when I was 16, I snapped my tibia and fibula. I spent two weeks in hospital. Operation to put two plates and 6 pins and it took nearly a year before I could get back onto the bike.”

Mr Skinner is also the main man behind the Cookie Jam, a yearly event held at a local skate park based at Exeter’s main sporting Arena. The jam celebrates his good friend Jamie Bruce who sadly passed away in 2009.
“We build a sick ghetto ramp set up in the skate park, every year being bigger and better than the last. We ask all the big BMX companies and smaller local shops to help out with prizes, they never let us down. The amount of people that turn up is awesome and the atmosphere is crazy.
Throughout the day we hold different jams on different ramps around the park, at the end of the day the judges decide who they thought was the best under 16/over 16 rider of the day to get their names put on the cookie jam trophy which is in the local BMX shop the boarding house.
Donations are collected for the charity hospice care, this year we managed to raise £350. I can honestly say it is the highlight of the year for me.

2Cheers Skindog!