Building a fun bike jump out of wood

Building a fun bike jump out of wood


Last week, we built our first in trail feature,
dubbed the Maim Frame. I purposely positioned it at the slowest point
on the trail to keep things interesting, but that’s kind of what made it so hard to ride. It seems like everything I build is sketchy
for the wrong reasons. So this morning, Kevin and I got to work on
a re-route that would make the Maim Frame a little more fun to ride. We did our best to restore the old trail,
and then make a loop that approaches the maim frame dead on. We had to go a little ways up the hill. This solution requires some pedaling to maintain
speed on that hill, but also lengthens the trail a bit. With a more direct approach, it’s way easier
to get speed for the maim frame, and that speed can get you into trouble. So things are back to being sketchy—for
the right reasons. This re-route has also changed our trail map
a little bit. With that out of the way, we’re done working
on Woodpecker for the time being. We need to get started on a totally different
project right now. You see next week Eric Porter is coming to
visit, and if you’ve ever seen his backyard you can guess what he wants to build. So this week, we need to build a runway. It needs to be fast, straight, and smooth
enough for a dirt jump bike. We need to get the flag line just right. We’re starting at the top of Woodpecker,
and going downhill straight towards the back of the garage. It looks like the trail is headed straight
on to the lawn, but that’s not entirely true. I can’t really explain it without spoiling
the surprise. So, let’s just get to building. In case you were wondering Kevin and I are
wearing khaki pants and grey shirts totally by accident. There aren’t any mirrors out on the trail
so neither of us noticed this until looking at the footage. Also by partial accident, we’re neighbors
again. That’s one of the reasons you see so much
of Kevin now, he lives only 10 minutes away from me. And he’s been a huge help. But Kevin always has been and still is, a
terrible influence. The only tree along our flag line is this
dead pine, and we planned to cut it down strategically, and carefully. That’s not what happened. Right here, I was watching the top of the
tree wobble like a noodle. As I considered the possibility of it breaking
off and hitting us, the real hazard came from below. The moral of the story is, don’t take down
trees this way. It
only took Kevin and I a couple hours to totally clear this short trail, including most of
the stump from that old rotted out tree. If this were Woodpecker we’d jump on our
bikes and call it a day, but this trail needs to be smooth, fast rolling, and hard packed. So, I broke down and brought in a machine. Well, technically this is a machine—it’s
the same little tiller I had back on Berm Creek. Although a micro cultivator has very little
in common with an excavator, what we’re doing with it here is very much the same. By churning the soil and digging down to the
clay, we end up with a more consistent medium that can be raked, sculpted, and compacted. We’ll be going over this multiple times,
pulling out old roots, breaking down the high spots, and filling in the low spots. But I think we might also build a little jump
at the beginning. We’re going to build the landing first. To get dirt for the landing, we’re dragging
it over from a fallen tree to the right of the trail. By mining our dirt from this high spot, we
avoid making a hole that will fill with water and breed mosquitos. Our jump will technically be a hip. A hip jump, is a jump that turns a bit. So the landing is often contoured to help
the rider change directions. Some hips can be huge and a full 90 degrees,
but this one will be very small and have a slight angle. As we add dirt, we rake all the roots and
plant matter out of it, and then little by little shape it in to a landing. To pack this dirt down properly, we could
use a little rain and it’s supposed to do that all day tomorrow. Tomorrow is today, and Kevin had to leave
town. So, I’ll use this rainy day opportunity
to build the lip. A lip is the same thing as a launch, and this
lip will be made from wood. I’m drawing what I think will be the right
radius for this little jump, and then using a jigsaw to cut the curve. These pieces of wood will be the sides, and
as you can see one is steeper than the other. Once we install our slats, the lip should
bias left making it the perfect counterpart to our landing. The sides are treated pine, while the riding
surface is black locust. Since all our lumber is rot resistant we can
bury this whole thing in the ground, and adjust the lip however we want. There is a science to this, but I’m just
using my experience as a rider to eyeball it. Now I’ve been known to misjudge jumps, but
this seems right. Let’s see if that really is the case. Getting the speed for this jump is not effortless,
but the trail isn’t finished yet. Once this is all packed down and buffed out,
it should be the perfect appetizer for the big jump at the end. My friend, Jep is in town and of course I’m
putting him to work on the trail. As I till the spots that still contain loamy
topsoil, he rakes it flat. Then we go over it again to clip roots sticking
out of the ground, and detail anything we missed. Back in highschool, Jep and I rode BMX together,
and now we both ride mountain bikes. That’s also the case with my friends Scott,
Dan, Nick, and pretty much everyone I grew up riding BMX with. I can’t tell you why they all started riding
mountain bikes, but I can tell you that they all still know how to jump. With the work Jep and I did, this trail is
pretty much ready for next week. The jump is running great, the trail after
it is smooth, and it all ends right at the bushes, which will hopefully work out. Also, Kevin’s back in town. When he left we were just finishing up the
landing. This week, we fixed up the approach to the Maim Frame, and
dug a new trail that leads to some bushes. We also built a small jump which ended up
being really fun, but at the end of the day most of this work was in preparation for the
feature we’re building next week. So let’s leave off with a first person ride
through our trail system as it stands. First, woodpecker. And back to the top. We can’t forget the pucker plank off the
top of the flight deck. And finally, a run through our new trail. Everything looks good for next week, and you’ll
need to wait ‘till then to find out why on Earth I’d build a trail that ends at
some hedges. In the meantime, you can take your best guess. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll
see you next time.