Building a mountain bike jump over my driveway

Building a mountain bike jump over my driveway


Last week, we took this muddy, rutted forest
road and turned it into a durable gravel road that is now Berm Peak’s grand entrance. But of course, it’s not just a gravel road. We built a few rock bump jumps into the side
that end at a small landing. Because the rock jumps can be accessed from
snake pit trail, it makes for a really fun line. But you need to slam on your brakes to avoid
hitting the retaining wall, and that’s a big waste of speed. Of course, Pat opted to just ride up the retaining
wall. This doesn’t work well, but it works. And it got me thinking, we could make this
trail continue to the other side of the driveway, and keep going downhill. To keep this trail going, I needed to make
some improvements to what we had, including the landing and the trail after it. The dirty gravel has really been coming in
handy for this. After tuning up the trail for a bit, it was
time for some experimenting. For starters the cypress trees needed a little
pruning, but not too much because I wanted this feature to be hidden from the front yard. To make the path on to the driveway rideable
was more challenging than meets the eye. You see, this driveway was built up with stone
during the construction of the house so removing stone from the retaining wall could cause
the driveway to crack or even collapse. But I was able to move some non-bearing stone
and throw some dirt at it to make things work. Still, not what I’d call an amazing lip
but a good start. Feels sketchy, and kind of soft given the
season we’re in. In the Southeast there’s Spring, Summer,
Autumn, and mud. That’s a little better, but still not what
I had in mind. With all that speed, we could pop up on to
the driveway and maybe even get a little air. But to build a proper lip on the retaining
wall we’d need a lot of dirt to cover the rocks. And I’m no good at building dirt lips anyway. Lately the 10.5 radius has been my go-to for
just about any jump. But on this one I made the last 8 inches flat
so we can juice it recklessly without getting thrown over the handlebars. To install this on the retaining wall, I could
dig it in as far as possible and trim away the side supports with the reciprocating saw
to make it fit over the rocks. Now that I’ve built a few of these lips,
I’ve got the whole process down to about 45 minutes. And given the lack of maintenance and resistance
to water, I suspect this won’t be the last one we build. This wooden part will make the very top of
our jump, while the bottom will need to be dirt and gravel. I must admit, this was a little more work
than I anticipated. But with some of the material left over from
the road project, I was able to get the lip positioned, and even make it blend into the
surroundings. But this lip could be so much more. From the very day I drove up this driveway
with my realtor I wondered if we could build a gap jump over it, and many of you had the
same exact same thought when you saw the map of the property. But the side profile actually looks like this. From this direction the approach would be
uphill, so that’s a no go. From the other direction the jump would be
a step up—a big one, and I’m not sure how we’d get the speed for it. But there’s one spot where the profile looks
like this, and it’s right at the auxiliary parking space where we’ve built our lip. And that might be just a little bit by design. Time for a test. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it looked possible
to clear the driveway. To get both tires in the gravel I’d need
a fair bit more speed, and it would be a serious yank. So the next day Kevin and I got to work on
trying to clear it. We were coming up short and the culprit was
speed, or lack thereof. The snake pit skinny is only possible to do
so fast without messing up, and you need to make up the difference after it, while jumping
rocks and setting up for the driveway gap. Despite the rough landing I even tried the
gap on my hardtail for some extra boost to no avail. So we kept refining our lines, and pushing
our luck. Kevin definitely jumped the furthest, but
it wasn’t both tires in the gravel. After that, we both started getting a little
sketchy, and decided to call it quits. The
next morning I got up early and fixed up the trail. I added additional height to the landing so
we could pump it for speed, and some more support at the bottom of the lip for a smoother
takeoff. Pat also came by to give it
a shot. With those improvements to the trail we were
immediately doing better than the previous day. In the summer with a harder surface, I’m
positive we would have sailed past the gravel, but despite this handicap we were giving it
everything we had. Pat definitely cleared it with a clean dismount. And with that the driveway gap was officially
a reality. But it’s my driveway, so I had to clear
it too. So I took a couple of tips from Pat on line
choice and gave it another shot. I said it would never happen, but we have
a driveway gap. And, it leads right to another trail entrance
in Moonshangle thickets. That means we can keep this downhill run going
and add additional, crazier features. And now that this line continues across the
driveway, we can call it a trail. I considered naming it lower snake pit since
that’s where it starts, but since it crosses the forest road it needs its own name. Thanks for riding with me today and I’ll
see you next time.