Sebastian 'Bas' Keep's two-year wallriding project, Walls, sees the BMX legend introduce ramps to normally inaccessible street spots in the UK with the result being some of the most progressive riding ever seen in BMX.
We caught up with Keep to find out where the concept came from, how he picked the spots and how he felt attempting the now-infamous Croydon gap that ends the edit.
Where did the idea behind Walls come from?
I just wanted to ignore the unwritten rules that are within BMX. People say you shouldn't really adjust street spots, that you shouldn't try and tamper with them.
I just thought, what if we just completely tamper with them and take whole ramps to street spots?Sebastian ‘Bas’ Keep
I really wanted to ride a lot of the architecture that we have no access to usually because there are no ramps. I wanted to ride big stuff, and the only way to do that was to use buildings with ramps at the bottom to help us ride them.
Have you ridden a lot of walls previously?
Not really. I've always ridden big ramps in my career, I like riding big setups, but I'd never taken skate park ramps to the street. I knew if you did the possibilities would be endless. I went into the project thinking it was going to be a certain way, but then I came out the other end having learnt so much about what was possible, and how much work it takes to achieve even the smallest spot. It was a lot of work.
The project's been in the making for a couple of years. How challenging has the experience been?
I started it in November 2014, I think. The goal was to get 20 clips of jumping off bridges and buildings and stuff, but when we started the project we soon realised that it's really hard to find a spot – we spent hours and hours on Google Earth looking for bridge spots and buildings that I could ride down.
There are a lot of variables that go into making sure that each spot is built right. You have to be able to ride into it and ride out of it, and there's a lot of time spent visiting all these spots. You might find a spot in Scotland, then you'd drive up there and then you find out that you can't ride it.
It took a lot longer than I thought it was going to take, but it was worth it in the end. The whole thing was a learning experience. It’s almost like a new discipline of riding, no one’s really done it beforeSebastian ‘Bas’ Keep
Do you have a favourite spot from the project?
Croydon, which was the RideUK cover spot, was the best looking. I found it on Google Earth, and I knew as soon as I went to the spot it was special and that I could get an iconic photo. It just looked incredible.
It was also really scary. It was like three stories high, and it ruined my life for about six months. I knew that nothing in the world was going to stop me trying it, but I had a lot of guilt, like am I going to kill myself? It was like an obsession – I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I couldn't stop picturing the photo because I knew it would be good. We built setups that were similar to it, but nothing could simulate how big it really was.
How did you psych yourself up to hit it that first time?
I was terribly scared for about four months building up to it. On the day I wasn't really scared because I'd already made the decision that I was going to do it – some people make their mind up when they get there, but I made it up months beforehand.
Adrenalin kicked in and I was like, 'right I'm going', I just wanted to get it over and done with. Because it was such a big spot, we never expected to ride out perfectly, but the fact that I didn't completely die was a good thing and we got the photograph that I'd always pictured, which was amazing.
When we were driving home and George [Marshall] sent me the photo I was like, 'oh my god'. I knew we had something special. There was a lot of pressure on everyone on the day.
What's next for you?
The next project is focussing on my bike company, Tall Order. I just want to try and grow that next year, and maybe a continuation of Walls using my Tall Order team riders. There will be something, but I'm not sure yet. We're trying not to be too serious and keep it fun.
See more from Bas Keep's Walls project"