Ditches are like nature’s skateparks (and I am aware of how I’m misusing the term nature here)… An imperfect and often oversized assembly of banks, walls, edges, ledges, steep-ass roll ins, and the occasional water flow to contend with. Just as Geoff Rowley transitioned from British born vegan to American citizen deerstalker, he also evolved from a street ripper to pretty much exclusive ditch dude.
From a 2015 Thrasher interview with Geoff: “It was interesting and a lot of times you didn’t get kicked out of the ditches either. We had a lot of problems down South, getting kicked out of everywhere because everyone was hitting the handrails out in front buildings a lot. I was sick of getting kicked out and not being able to sit down at a spot. When we went to ditches, you could bring a boom box and a couple of bottles of water and kind of hang out a little bit better. It felt like those old backyard-pool sessions but it was a little bit more street oriented. You’re out there with your friends and nobody’s messing with you. You can still get your kicks. You get more time on the board. More time skating versus driving around in the cities getting kicked out everywhere.”
Be it the enormity of the obstacles, the brutalist concrete look of the spots, or the chillness of a bust-free session, ditches offer all the amenities (and lack of shade) of a skatepark without the illegitimacy and background scooterings of a “park clip”. No road trip through the American Southwest is complete without clocking some ditch tricks. Also, Wallows.
Ryan Reyes has built his career on a steady dose of ditch skating with a sprinkling of unlikely wallrides, but to intentionally film and market an entire part in the ditches has its risks. One may appear a bit over-it and unwilling to deal with street hassles (ala Rowley), or maybe unwilling to really venture outside of your immediate desert geography (ala John Motta), or perhaps it’s just a themed episode of the larger oeuvre (like this). One also risks burning retinas with the somewhat repetitive sun bleached aesthetics of drainage ditches, inducing yawns from seeing the same old ditch spots yet again, as well as the dangers of heat stroke and/or flash floods.
Yet despite all of risks (and some trite video feedback effects), Ryan Reyes’ Ditch Dimension part from 2018 is a success.
I’ve always liked Ryan. He’s creative in his tricks (more or less inventing the board-jam and the railride) and his personal peculiarities (his recently overcome phobia of metal). He always seemed affable in interviews and more than most skateboarders he seems to be authentically ‘living his best life’. He has settled quite comfortably into a merry yet alternative lifestyle of a woodsy microdosing psychedelic family man with a knee brace and he is undoubtedly having a good time. It makes me happy to see someone happy to be skating.
The blunted powerslide underflip body varial is my current favorite post-hammer roll-away trick.