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|Sheep Hills, as it stands now.|
BMX Plus! was one of my first introductions to BMX. Each month, I studied each issue religiously, and through my over-analysis of the photos, I realized a majority of the photos were taken at Sheep Hills. Located on the border of Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa in Orange County, Calif., Sheep Hills housed a tight knit community (Sheep Hills Locals or SHL) comprised of the local BMX pros, eventually becoming the destination for bright eyed English upstart Stephen Murray and countless others looking for ever elusive dirt jumping fame and sponsorship.
Infamously known as a training ground for the industry's biggest Dirt Jumpers, Sheep was and still is the butt of many jokes. But the great thing about Sheep Hills is the fact that it still exists to this day. New faces and old locals alike do their best to maintain the dirt. And last year, I finally made it out to the sun bleached dirt jumping mecca. While I was there, every memory came back to me as I made sense of the lines. Todd Lyons and The Foster Brothers on MTV Sports with Dan Cortese, the Super G contest photos I drooled over, and Marvin Loetterle's part in S&M "Video 4": all of these vivid memories didn't seem 3,000 miles away anymore.
To compliment the memories, I got in touch with some Sheep Hills locals to discuss some of their memories. First up is dirt jumping legend Brian Foster, who rode Sheep Hills throughout the '90s and now lives in central N.J.
ESPN.com: What years did you consider yourself a Sheep Hill Local?
Where are you originally from and why did you make the move to Huntington Beach?
I'm originally from Maryland. When you are racing full time, California is the place to be. You can ride all-year.
At the time, what was your occupation and was it flexible with your time as a Sheep Hills Local (SHL)?
My occupation was BMX rider/racer, so my job didn't interfere with my riding. I did have to go racing every weekend, so technically I guess my job did interfere with my weekend trail sessions.
It seemed that at any given time, there could be huge amounts of pros in the area. Who was one of your favorites to watch ride back then?
The most impressive racer was either Christophe Leveque or Thomas Allier. Shaun Butler was one of the better jumpers to watch.
Please give the readers an example of one of the strangest things you ever saw go down at the trails?
It's Southern California, the heart and soul of all that is extreme. Too many kooky things went down there. Here are a few: racers in full uniform shooting photos for their sponsors, paint huffing bums coming out of the bushes, mini bikes, RC cars hitting jumps, moms with lawn chairs and coolers, paint ballers, Super G on the mic.
|Brian Foster on the cover of issue 5 of Dig, at Sheep Hills.|
Did you sincerely like riding Sheep or were you there just because of the proximity to the BMX industry?
I absolutely loved Sheep. It was more of a training spot for racers and dirt jumpers than it was trails. You have to pedal a lot to hit the jumps, and it is usually really bumpy. Even calling them dirt jumps is a stretch, because it's not dirt. It's a mixture of sand, flour, salt and moon dust. With all the negative things I say about Sheep, the times I had there were some of the best in my life and that place is very responsible for my success.
If you have any last words on Sheep please feel free to include them here.
All trail spots wouldn't be possible without a group of dedicated diggers. The dirt at Sheep was so bad that you needed to rebuild every couple of weeks. Hippie Jay and Freddie Chulo stand out in my mind as the guys that put in the most work, and to have a conversation about Sheep and not mention Barspinner Ryan (Brennan) would be a crime.