HOW TO BUILD AN INVISIBLE HALF-PIPE
Hey! If you're poor like myself and can't build your very own half-pipe or don't even live in an area where such an endeavor is feasible then listen up brother. Here's a nifty little idea that first debuted in an old copy of BMX Plus! many moons past. Ain't half-pipe riding fun? Yeah! Doesn't the crashing suck? Yeah! Would you like to have all the fun of a half-pipe without actually building one? Well here's how! You really can build something that will operate somewhat as if you're riding a half-pipe. This is great for beginners. You can learn without getting hurt. This is great for me. I haven't rode a ramp in so long I would likely kill myself. If I can find a suitable spot I'm gonna' build me one of these here doo hickies again. Yessir. You see, back in the day I had an invisible half-pipe in my back yard. I was the hit of the neighborhood. The neighbors themselves thought I was insane. OK you're saying out loud at this point, "Crikey! Get on with it! What is an invisible half-pipe!?" Well, guess what? It's a tire swing. Yep, a tire swing. And it's fun. Here's what you need:
1. Either 2 or 3 used bike tires. You can use new ones if you want but wasting new tires on a tire swing is a kind of stupid. You're the boss. Do whatever you want. We used 3 old Tiogas.
2. A very strong rope. Don't use some crappy rope. This is your butt on the line here. Literally.
3. A tree. A big tree. A big, strong tree. No joke. It had better be strong or your 150lb body will bring that thing down when you start grabbin' serious air. The tree needs to have a seriously thick branch high up off the ground and unobstructed by anything else including other branches. How high up off the ground is up to you. Don't put it too low and don't put it too high. BMX Plus! recommended at least 20 feet high.
4. Some type of padding. We used foam rubber. Foam rubber sucks. Our arm pits were perpetually red and purple and hurt. We rubbed lots of lotion in our armpits for relief. Rubbing lotion in your armpits does not bring relief. Use foam rubber if you want. We were crazy. Are you?
5. A piece of plywood. Lay this on the ground under the tire swing. If you don't do this you will wear ruts into the dirt and eventually kill yourselves when you ride into them. It's your life tiger, ride the ruts if you want.
6. Duct tape. You gotta' tape the tires together silly! And absolutely DO NOT use scotch tape. This just doesn't seem to work.
7. Don't laugh. This works and it's fun. I mean it.
First duct tape the tires together. Do a good job you lazy punk. Then find a boy scout to climb the tree and tie a good strong knot with the rope. We had two boy scouts present. The first one scurried up and tied a granny knot. He did not tell us this. This did not hold. It let go from the tree and I went flying a considerable distance over my backyard fence and into the back of a house. I sent the other boy scout up the tree and he used something I think he called a half clove hitch knot. Whatever the heck it was it held up forever. The moral? Do not use boy scouts that have no merit badges. That jackass.
Lay the plywood down under the swing. Lay your choice of padding inside the swing. Place your head and arms through the swing and test it out by swinging around without your bike. If it holds then get on your bike and pedal you animal! It should be said however, that you must make sure that the tire swing is snug under your armpits while you're standing up. If it isn't you're gonna' get a nasty surprise when you pedal off and the tire swing begins taking up the slack by raking you up the front of your chest. This happened to us a lot at first. We eventually tied the swing low enough for little Joe and the rest of us adjusted the swing for ourselves by spinning the tire swing until the rope twisted up to the correct height. And you can do the same! How about that! Wait. You don't even know Joe. Good for you. He once stripped naked and threw all his clothes out of a moving car. Anyway....
When you get into the air turn around and come back for more. Simple as that. This is very fun and very painful if your padding sucks. I was the first guy in the neighborhood to pull a 540. It was on accident. I borrowed a friend's Redline to try it out on the invisible half-pipe. I was used to my Torker. I fired off and turned way too much. One of my feet slipped off a pedal. I spun like crazy and did a 540 without even trying. Everyone's jaws dropped. None of us had accomplished this trick yet. And even worse, it was an accident so I figured I wasn't going to be able to do it again. I nailed it down though and was doing them nonstop. The guy with the Redline (Andrew!) became the other big rider in the hood. We both were the best on our glorious little tree swing. Nobody else could compare. The great thing about this "half-pipe" is that you cannot get hurt unless you are a serious reject. Try any trick in the world. If you mess up then drop your bike and swing to a stop. If you're a beginner this a great way to learn things. If you've been riding ramps then this is a way to practice crazy stuff you don't have the cajones to try for real.
building the tire swing and the first lift off
(photos from BMX Plus!)
Now let me share some funny moments we had while swinging from the tree on our bikes.
I once owned a Hutch Jet. It's a beginners bike. I sold the frame and fork to a friend. He builds it up with a load of K-Mart parts including a coaster brake 36 spoke back wheel. After a few runs on the invisible half-pipe his back wheel fell to pieces and the hub broke. He kept slamming down on the plywood and braking as he came down from the air. Watching his whole bike slowly come to pieces was pretty funny.
A neighbor was mowing his backyard. He saw me way up in the air, almost above the house, in a tree swing on my bike. He turned off the mower and went running inside screaming, "Yo get out here! Check this crazy white boy ridin' his bike in the tree!"
I just about wrecked from laughing.
I had this tree swing going for months before my parents even saw it. I just figured they had seen it and had seen us riding in it. Apparently not. One day I was out back by myself riding it. My mom was doing the dishes. She looks up just in time to see me whiz right up towards her and over the kitchen window. She comes running outside screaming at me. "Are you f****** crazy? What's the matter with you? Get out of that tree on that bike. You're gonna' hit a power line you moron."
Oh yeah, stay away from trees with overhead lines. Don't learn electrical safety by accident. I've been climbin' trees all my life. yadda yadda yadda....
Seriously, don't build it in a tree that touches any kind of power line or is close to any power line. My tree swing was not near a power line but it was near a phone line. It wasn't uncommon to burn up the phone line with your back tire on occasion. Still pretty stupid so don't do that.
That's it you crazy ninja! Now go build one!
Hey, if you do make one you should send in some pictures of you riding it.
It will help other people understand how it works.