Interview: Effraim & Pete Brandt.
Photos: Tim Treacy.
Welcome to Episode 3 of Flat Snitches, an educational resource on the history of trick inventions in flatland. We have a very special guest for our third episode, Ladies and Gentlemen… Tim Treacy from San Francisco! Tim was one of the first pioneers of the scuffing technique in flatland in the 1980’s. San Francisco was a hot bed of creative talent back in the day at Golden Gate Park that are now legendary in flatland circles and via coverage in Freestylin’ inspired riders across the globe.
Have you ever done a backyard? Maybe a two footed rolling backyard in the modern era? Were you ever curious. Where did this trick come from?
Episode 3 focuses on the Backyard, myself and Pete Brandt dig beneath the surface of this trick and interview the man behind this staple move in flatland. It’s time for the interview!
Back in the 80’s, I recall your name coming up a lot in the magazines. And many credit you with one of the earliest originators of scuffing. Can we squat the rumour to begin Flat Snitches Episode 3, did you create the Backyard Tim?
Yeah, I invented the backyard in my ‘front yard’, funnily enough. Summer of 1986, I think late summer. It was more of a large curb than a front yard, but then I grew up in the Sunset District near the beach in San Francisco.
Can you talk in more depth when exactly you created the trick? And when did you first show the trick in public?
I remember exactly.1471 35th Avenue between Judah and Kirkham in San Francisco in the Sunset District; where I grew up.I learned all my flatland on an incline, thinking back on it. A couple of local teenagers came by on their bikes and knocked on my door; then just would not leave from the front of my house.They were asking for riding advice. They were learning bunny hops or something. So, I went down and talked to them for a while, and I had my bike behind me, and was just screwing around on the pegs.
And the backyard unfolded for me. I started doing it, a couple of scuffs. I then practiced it as a scuff trick, and showed it at The Center in Golden Gate Park a couple months later. I guess, you could say in today’s language, it went viral right after that. To be honest, it is quite an easy trick and can be continued indefinitely, so we were all just trying to figure out different ways to get in and get out of the backyard. They were doing no-handed backyards soon at GGP and I didn’t make the no handed part up. We just learned from each other.It was pretty special. There was more of a competition against ourselves than against each other,and their was a certain friendship from that.
I cant imagine there were a lot of ways to document back in the 80s, other than photography perhaps?
I have a photo of when I was in Freestylin’ Magazine in 1986 or 87, but I never was one to photograph myself, through any volition of my own. I was a really skinny kid before I started lifting later. I have a picture of my first bike. My dad bought it for me at Aji’s on 9th Avenue in San Francisco. It was a Redline and it was all red, including the tires; everything red; $400 back in the 80’s. It was sweet.
Can you remember when the Backyard was first documented?
Freestylin’ Mag, May 1987 I had a full page photo with the backyard being demonstrated with me in front of the De Young Fine Arts Museum in Golden Gate Park. It was on a steep walk up, so I had to do about 9 or 10 full 360 revolutions for the shoot to finish on that hill. The backyard is like riding a bike; once you learn it (like many things) you can do it as long as you want or need to, so that was fun.
What were your inspirations at the time?
I was making tricks up all the time. The culture of BMX and Skateboarding was so cool because none of us were competing against ourselves in San Francisco and the Bay Area; we were just trying to pull new tricks and see what the other dudes were doing.
To make up as many tricks as I could. I made up hundreds, but they were scuff tricks, and combinations, and a lot were some good tricks. I would put a note pad by my bed and write down what I made up in my head, if I did as I fell asleep.
I recall you were a big part of the Sunday sessions taking place at the Golden Gate park in SF?
Every Sunday. The Center was the place to be, actually in the Bay Area, not just San Francisco. Now that I think about it, who would not want to come to San Francisco Golden Gate Park on a Sunday, especially if it was the raddest place to be at the time; if you lived around there.
What were your motivations with flatland?
I grew up in on a hill (slight but enough to get a lot of speed, so it makes not sense. I think at that time, I could practice scuffing and balance for hours in my house with MTV on, so it was cool that way to dial in certain things. I just loved it, I guess.
What was your process in learning the backyard?
It was me just goofing around with my bicycle behind me. I named it the backyard in a car when we were driving past some backyards a few weeks after making it up.
Did you have a scuffing trick you learnt before that, that lead to the trick?
No. It came up kind of by accident. I did 100’s of scuffing tricks. I practiced in my living room, listening to MTV for hours; you didn’t have to ride to scuff, so I practiced upstairs or in the garage; Twisted Sister, Def Leppard, Van Halen, etc…
How long did it take you to learn the backyard from start to finish?
Not too long. It is like learning to ride a bike. Sort of like golfing takes years to get good at, but snowboarding takes a day of falling, then you got it. The Backyard is like that; easy once you learn it. Maybe a week. The backyard is like riding a bicycle. Once you learn the backyard, you can do it as long as you want.
And how long was it before you saw someone copy it, and how did you feel about your trick being copied?
I left for six months, and came back and it was being done at The Center no handed, so it got picked up pretty quick, probably less than six months.
Would you say the riders you were riding with at the time were a big part in your creative progression?
Yes, it was the culture at the time. The really cool thing was that we were not competing with each other. We just got excited to see a new trick, and really appreciated the good riders. It was so esoteric, and everyone had their own style, so we all just kind of looked in awe at every trick dudes were doing. There were no cell phones, no internet, just us and our bikes, and the streets. It was way cool.
What variations did you do on the backyard?
I made up more than I can remember, actually. I would just make stuff up.
Can you recall which came first the backyard or the front yard?
The backyard was the first. There was no front yard. I thought it was cool they reversed the name for my trick for a front version, at the time; of course it is not ‘my’ trick, but I thought so, since I ‘invented’ it.
That’s good insight Tim. Anything else you want to say Tim that you feel we have missed from this chat?
Oh man. There is too much to write. You covered quite a bit. I remember, though, we would be at the Center in Golden Gate Park, and someone would say, “Let’s do the Wharf! (Fisherman’s Wharf). We would go down and shut down the streets in front of Alioto’s. Well, actually the tourists shut down the street.We would pick up about a hundred dollars from the tourists, and go to the Embarcadero to eat and ride more. One guy from Texas gave me $20 once; I was like wuuuh? That was a lot of money back then, but there is oil in Texas.Cheers guys.