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|Think one-handed tables are a new trend? Think again, Barspinner in the late '90s.|
Many consider Ryan "Barspinner" Brennan one of the original (if not the first) Sheep Hills locals. As a young teen, Brennan started visiting Sheep Hills often, and throughout the years, his talents aboard a BMX bike were featured in the pages of Ride BMX and Dig BMX, as well as influential videos such as Ride's "Thunder." As one of the original locals, Brennan also witnessed the various stages that Sheep Hills endured, growing from a local dirt jumping spot to a media hotbed of activity that included large scale TV commercials. These days, Barspinner doesn't ride Sheep Hills nearly as often as he once did, but he's a walking encyclopedia of Sheep Hills knowledge. This is Barspinner.
ESPN.com: What years did you consider yourself a Sheep Hill Local?
Barspinner: In 1993, we started going to Sheep a lot, almost everyday. Adam Pope, Jason Pope, James Meyers and myself came up with the name "Sheep Hills Local." I consider these guys and the likes of Shaun Butler, Timmy Ball, Marvin Loetterle, Hippie Sean, Death Rock Dave, Dusty Shaw, Hippie Jay, Mark Maligmat, Boozer, Dogger, Ricky Vigil are all SHL for life! The OG's.
Where are you originally from and why did you make the move to Huntington Beach?
I am originally from Costa Mesa, Calif., which borders Sheep. I eventually moved to Huntington Beach to enjoy cheap rent in the HB house and lots of wild times!
|OG Sheep Hills locals. That's Barspinner on the bottom left.|
At the time, what was your occupation and was it flexible with your time as a SHL?
I worked for the Warehouse Video Store. I made $4.25 an hour, bought a season pass to Bear Mountain and did a ton of snowboarding with Brian Foster. Eventually though, I was getting paid by Airwalk, Odyssey and a few other sponsors. I made around $1700 a month between 1997-2000. I also managed the construction of the 1998 MTV Sports and Music Festival in Memphis at 19. I sold Soil videos too, so I was a young entrepreneur.
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?
When I was young, the POWs were idols, like Brian Foster and Jay Lonergan. Later on, Josh Stricker always had awesome style. And oh yeah, Nasty always went big too.
Please give the readers an example of one of the kookiest things you ever saw go down at the trails.
The Fuzzy Hall Mongoose commercial. The crew was massive Hollywood style. They had 18-wheelers and all types of stuff including a Tim "Fuzzy" Hall life-sized doll on a crazy contraption. I heard they were going to pay $100 for someone to groom the trails, so I showed up early, shook the guys hand and told him I was working for him. Later that day, I bought a sweet wooden canoe for $100. The next day, signs got put up at Sheep and the park rangers started monitoring the fire roads more often.
Did you sincerely like riding Sheep or were you there just because of the proximity of the "industry"?
Sheep Hills had magic. It had its dry seasons, but at one point we built the 10-pack (which was the first rhythm section around) and it was amazing. In the later years, it was like a secret surf spot gone mainstream, complete with photographers tired of shooting it. I can still remember Jerry Bagley riding and telling me to step it up. At that point, the original locals were getting jaded by transplants bringing a training feel to the trails. It started to seem as if people would show up to get famous and paid. The dirt scene was strong, but Stricker packed his bags and left for Posh. I at times wish I had went with him.
|From left to right: Barspinner, Josh Stricker and Ricky Ratt.|
If you have any last words on Sheep please feel free to include them here.
Sheep was one of the best parts of my life. I can't explain how rad it was to ride with Shaun Butler, Stricker, Ricky Vigil, Neal Wood, Brian Foster, Todd Lyons, Chris Moeller, Timmy Ball the Pope Brothers and all these awesome people. At its peak, the office was packed with hecklers, BBQs and every afternoon, the session would start hitting with big tricks until dark. Jimmy Levan once said it was a contest with no prizes. The prizes we won was friendship, brotherhood and getting to travel the world. I miss the smell and the temperature change riding over the bridge. I still see the original locals, and I feel like they are family. We just had something that not many people get to experience in life: an energy of youth collaborating to reach a goal.
And what are you up to these days?
These days I own and operate Team Soil with the help of team manager Ricky Vigil. I pay guys like Mike "Hucker" Clark, Chris Hughes, Dan Norvell, Joey Cordova, Mike Castillo and Larry Edgar. So I feel like I still give a lot of life experience to these young pros. I want more sponsors to pay their riders what they're worth. You've got to give 100 percent in BMX these guys live off contest winnings, shows and passion and ride for the thrill of it. I also have been running a Summer & Winter camp with the city of Newport Beach, Calif. It is the only BMX camp in the world located on the beach and I own it. I am very proud to say that. Besides that I enjoy hanging out with my girlfriend Nicole. I have also been going snorkeling as much as possible and I just bought a little boat and have been zooming around the California coast living it up working for myself. True believer!
For further Barspinner updates, visit Ryan's Web site,barspinner.com. It's one of the longest running BMX Web sites on the Internet, in existence since 1998.