It’s Monday morning in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania. I’m surrounded by elbow pads and ramps. A cabin filled with pre-pubescent boys slowly wakes up from dreams of Topanga from “Boy Meets World” or that Mariah Carey music video where those kids kiss underwater.
It’s my second time at Woodward Camp. It’s the year 1999 and I’m twelve years old.
My first time at ramp camp was the year before- I went as a skateboarder and didn’t shower once. Nor did I learn any tricks (besides dropping in on a five foot quarter) but I did have a bunch of ice cream. I was chubby as shit and had no business on a skateboard.
I don’t remember what I had for breakfast but I do remember that I had a pair of shin guards that I didn’t feel like wearing. My friend Brandon said that it’d be a good idea to wear them. I probably said something like “these TSG kneepads cover half my shins anyway, what’s the point?” and I let him wear them. They weren’t the Lizard Skins with the plastic insert but they were the Hammer something-or-others, made of neoprene, and could have spared me some blood…
So everyone meets in Lot 8 and we stretch. My group, group one probably (I couldn’t peg stall a quarter) wanted to ride that outdoor bowl by the dirt jumps but there were a bunch of skateboarders there. We decided to hit the foam pit- the staple of ramp camp and the reason why so many kids love this place.
I rolled in from the top of the roll-in and launched my portly body into the air for what felt like seven or eight minutes. It was great. I probably could have thrown a few Indian airs (those were hot at the time). I landed a bit nose-heavy but nothing really alarming.
I can’t remember who my instructor was, but Ralph Sinisi was the instructor of the group that was riding the resi next to the foam. He was telling his group to do x-ups into the resi. I remember his exact words were “It’s not that hard- you go in the air and turn your bars” while demonstrating with his arms the reason why it’s called an “X” up. “Shiiiitttt”, I thought to myself, “I can do that”.
Back to the top of the roll-in and it’s my turn to go. I’m coming in at mach five, hit the launch, the crowd is going wild, and I turn my bars so much that my arms create an “X”. “Dang, this is easy” I thought to myself. Around the point of the trick where you’re supposed to bring your bars back to the non-xup position (and the reason the foam pit is so inessential) to be able to land on both wheels and still roll forward, something went wrong. My bars must’ve gotten stuck on the full-sized helmets that are the TSG knee pads or something, but I went into a pretty heavy nosedive.
I hit the foam and while my bike pretty much stayed at the surface, my body plunged into the AIDS-ridden pit of disgusting and no one thought any different. The guy helping people out of the foam (presumably my instructor) advised the rest of the kids in the group to remember to not nosedive or something, and threw me the rope to pull myself out of the deep blue cesspool.
I didn’t really feel anything weird, that I remember, but I looked down at my left shin and calmly notified the guy that something had happened.
“Holy shit, someone call a trainer!” The urgency in his voice scared the shit out of me.
My shin was literally split open, spewing blood everywhere. One whole block of foam was completely red and a bunch in the area were splattered (I can only imagine how often that happens). I’ve had a few shinners in my day, but this one was serious. I think I could see my bone- I saw something- and I didn’t want to look anymore. I’m guessing my body went into shock because it didn’t really hurt. People rushed into the pit to help me and there was really nothing I could do besides keep the particles of shitfoam out of the gaping wound in my leg. There was a photographer shooting on the resi (?) who tried to get a photo of my split-open shin, to which rope guy was like “Hey man, be professional!”. I actually would have enjoyed/puked to see what it looked like.
I don’t know what I was thinking, or if I was thinking, but I asked one of the trainers if I’d need stitches. She sneered and said “Yes, a lot of stitches”.
I made it down to the trainers office or whatever and they had to cut off my brand new TSG knee pads. Fuckin’ Ryan Nyquist. I rode in the back of a wood-paneled station wagon while an obese, middle-aged woman drove me for three days to the nearest hospital.
The doctor said I should have stuck to Indian airs and I agreed. He injected a bunch of Novocain directly into the cut, which was the first pain (and last) that I can remember from the whole situation. I didn’t even want to look at it, it made me feel sick. I was awarded 43 stitches (29 external, 14 internal) for my ignorance to shin guards. It’s funny/fucked too that it was 43 stitches because this was right around when an article came out in Ride about 43 being a cursed number in BMX.
The good people at Woodward decided that they would refund my money for the entire week, since I got to ride for a total of, let’s say, eleven minutes, for around $450. They also gave me some new TSG kneepads that I immediately tried to sell on eBay.
Needless to say, I wore shin guards for the rest of the summer and I can’t feel one of my toes because of nerve damage. I hit my scar all the time and it hurts like piss and I’m always afraid of ripping it back open. I will never, ever jump (with my bike) into a pit of foam ever again, and I advise everyone reading this to do the same. It’s fucking stupid. It’s so gross in there too. I was there a couple weeks ago digging around for a cellphone that some kid lost in there and didn’t care to find and I saw a large spider. Also Hollywood once said he buttfucked a girl in there and that’s not sanitary.
Oh and, don’t buy these pedals. They’re the worst. I still have mine, with skin on the pins.