Escape from the cold – BMX trip to Malaga

Ruben-Bowl

Why it’s still worth talking about Malaga and the (almost new) Ruben-Bowl?

Since my best friend Jessi and I had visited Malaga for the first time in the end of last year we wanted to write a journal-like artikel about it so that we could share that extraordinary (travel-) experience and could encourage everbody who will ever have the chance to vistit Spain anytime soon to go there. You are guaranteed to have also an awesome time.

Well yes it took a while. Jessica had to finish her PhD, I was injured etc., but in the end, we both agreed that our trip to Spain is still worth telling about.

It all started absolutely spontaneous. Last year in the end of November we both felt the urge to go on vacation. So first Jessica started to randomly check for cheap flights and found a good one, that took us not almost three days later off and away from the cold and humid weather in Germany to sunny Andalusia. It really was just coincidence that our little escape led us to Malaga. Because by this point, I had already been saying for months that I wanted to check out that new bowl there as soon as I had the next opportunity. Our friends Meike, Janine and Lisa had holidayed there before in September. Back then the park was still surrounded by construction fences. Nevertheless the girls brought back some nice first photos with promising impressions, which made me not just curious but also thinking that no later than spring this should become my next travel destination. After I did some more research on the internet about the park, my desire to go there increased even more. Each and every picture I saw just shouted: YOU GOTTA GO –  that’s a great spot for a bowl rider!

Transfer by Ruben Alcantara

 

On the very day we arrived, we only spend some time getting into our apartment, went later on a small exploration in the neighborhood and had a tiny beer at the beach. We could’t wait for the next morning to go and search for the bowl. Fortunately,

Jessica climbing over the fence

Jessica managed in the short time before our departure to find the exact address of the Skatepark. The bowl is located on the terrain of Parque del Norte, which is very close to the Carlos Haya University Hospital. That’s why we had no problems finding the place almost immediately. On the permises of the skatepark we dicovered – besides the bowl designed by Ruben – a small street area, a vert-ramp and a relatively unappealing mini-ramp. But the park isn’t complete yet. Later –  so we’ ve been told – the precint will be extended to include trails and a parkour of ramps. That’s (one of the reasons) why the skatepark still isn’t officially opend and it might be that you will need to climb – like all the locals do, Ruben included – over the fence to get in.

The centerpiece and the only reason worth visiting the park is definitely the Ruben-Bowl. While approaching the precint, the sight of it was so overwhelming that we barely managed to even notice Ruben Alcantara and his guest Chris Rigal, who were already in the middle of a relaxed session with a small group of local riders. The moment we came closer to them they introduced themselfes and gave us a very friendly welcome. We immediately got mutually in touch and recieved from one or the other rider – for example from Javi the photographer – some helpful advices, that gave us an easy start as well as the feeling to be a familiar part of the group.

Chilling with Ruben and friend

The bowl itself: Perfect! The most appropriate comment came from a group of English guys we met during our second visit in April. After they had tested and run through it for a few times they shouted euphorically to each other: „This bowl is awesome – every transition is just fucking perfect“. It is definitely due to Ruben that the park is so much fun to ride and also built with such high quality. He managed to get involved in the planning after the city of Malaga finally made their decision, regardless of the current financial crisis in Spain, to provide a solid budget for the construction of a skatepark. He told us that at the time he joined the project, another draft already existed. What he saw wasn’t even convincing at first sight. Alarmed by the knowledge, that 80% of the skateparks in Spain are not great or crappy, he made a huge effort to get involved. Finally he succeeded and the city handed the responsibility for the entire design of the bowl over to him. To meet the demand of the project on all levels Ruben founded, in cooperation with a befriended architect, specifically for that occasion his company ‘Soulparks’. When riding the bowl you can really sense Ruben’s entire experience and passion for riding concrete bowls right away. It’sbuilt right into the design. Every obstacle fits perfect to the other, the transitions have a big, gentle radius without being low or shallow and you can’t feel or see a single kink anywhere, nor are there any copings that protrude too far. It’s „just fucking perfect!“

Transfer by Banû

Though the bowl is totally awesome and perfectly put together – it takes time to learn how to ride it. It even took us the first day to slowly get used to it and finding a couple of nice flowing lines as the bowl is partly rambling and provides countless different lines and possibilities. From day to day during the course of the week we became better, faster and managed to build up more flow. Despite the relatively short length of our visit, we experienced some memorable highlights. One of them was ‘la puerta‘. Even during the first session Jessica was already considering just going for it. In the end we all did it together for the first time – Ruben on his skateboard and we girls on our bikes. In addition to that Jessi was thrilled by the satellite-dish-like bowl corner and the cradle – called the wave. However I enjoyed the many different hips and transfer options. In particular the jumpbox, which could be used as a hip from every direction. Due to its ingenious transition it felt like jumping a spine; I really wanted to take that part of the bowl back home with me. Above all it was cool and fun riding trains together. The size and the diversity of the bowl makes it easy.

Train

Diversity is the keyword. In our interview with Ruben it came very clear that long term was his major concern when designing the bowl. He wanted to create something that works for a beginner as well as a pro and would offer each level of riding multiple possibilities. In retrospect, it was his words that it was his goal “to build something you can ride pretty much for the rest of your life” that really hit home. I was impressed the most by the plenty lines and challanges, which came across only in the few days of our visit. The long-term is definitely a goal he achieved with the design.

Jessica, Ruben, Banû – Markit Zero DVD premiere at 4130 BMX Company Shop

The entire holiday stayed in our memories like one big highlight. But this was not only because of the bowl, it was doubtless due to all the amazing people we met. On our first day we already got to know a large part of the clear ‘bowl-scene‘ – Ruben Alcantara included. Durng our visit, Chris Rigal was visiting Ruben for a few days and he did not seem any less excited about our visit. Thus we will never forget when he came over to us on the first afternoon and told us he was going to have something to eat with Chris, but would be back later. And this extraordinary politeness and laid back friendliness continued as our trip went on. The next day all the guys invited us to the premiere of the ‘Markit Zero‘ DVD at the BMX shop in that evening. Javi Ortega accompanied us there. Thanks to him we got to know not just the shortes route to the shop, but also another large part of the BMX community in Malaga. Inside the ‘4130 BMX Company’ shop we met a lot of new people – like Pablo Ruiz. He welcomed us as warmly as if we were members of his a family. Pablo isn’t just the owner of the shop, he has been an integral part of the scene and the BMX culture in Malaga for like forever. He belongs

Markit Zero DVD premiere at 4130 BMX Company Shop

to the ‘Mafia Bikers Malaga’ – an institution of the scene . Another example of this spirit is Yoni Candenas. He is often on the road with the kids to give them the opportunity to ride different and more remote spots. Besides this, he, as well as some of the other older riders, try to make sure that certain values stay alive and to pass them on the younger ones. When Jessica remarked about the awesome sense of acceptance and hospitality that impressed her so much in a conversation with Ruben at the end of our stay, he just laughed and said: „This is Spain!“ A warm familiarity was omnipresent in the mutual behaviour and that could always be seen clearly in every joint session. Riders were accepted regardless of ability or the quality of their equipment and even Ruben was no exception. The people, the entire atmosphere – I think that’s why we simply had to come back. And so we did in April. At our second Malaga trip everyone welcomed us back like we were old friends. Alex aka Pitu Pitu, for example, invited us (and the group of peopel we brought along)

Jessica, Chris, Banû – Markit Zero DVD premiere at 4130 BMX Company Shop

right away at our first get-together to the anniversary party of his shop and it was there we got the chance to meet a bunch of old friends from our first trip as well as some new people who were interesting and nice.

At the end of November during our first trip the weather was still relatively warm and the average temperature was about 18 degrees Celsius in the daytime. There were only  two days during our week in Malaga, that we could tell it was winter even there in Costa del Sol. It was quite windy and sometimes there was drizzel. On those days we rode street and explored more of the city. Street riding means for Jessica definitely less compromise than for me and when I look back, I have to thank her that we went to the bowl all the other days. But on these unpleasant days we discovered almost all spots we knew from BMX videos and even found some new ones. One of the well-known was the ditch in the city center; and after we rode a lot of different spots and also their for a while we went to the best place of the day – a small authentic café very close to the ditch. Their we rewarded ourselfes with churros y chocolate.

Jessica in the ‘Wave'

At the end of our week it just felt like the time we spent there was just too short. Because of the many different impressions and the positiv meetings with all these awesome people it passed by like a rush. In fact , it was all these amazing memories that were the reason why we came back. In the meantime, Malaga has become something like a second home. In August we had been there for the third time. During our last trip we finally managed – thanks to Jessi and Vaqui – to ride a number of other skateparks around Malaga. In the end we all agreed: The bowl in Malaga is really the best!

 

Text: Banû Tekir & Jessica Dielmann

Translation: Banû Tekir & Allen Brandt

About Banû Tekir