I enjoy mountain biking but the closest bike parks are still pretty far away and I don't go often, so I decided to make a park in my own backyard! Even if you have a small backyard you can build some simple things to help you keep your mountain biking skills sharp. Having a bigger yard, or woods near your house, helps but is not essential. I will show you how to make some simple features that will make your mountain biking EXTREME! Building features in your yard is a great idea if you are not that good at biking (like me!), and want to improve your skills without others watching you crash and mess up.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
To start you will need a few things. You can get by if you do not have all of the tools or materials, you might also not need all of them, but these are the tools I used:
-Drill (hammer works)
Materials I used:
-Screws (nails if you choose to hammer)
-4 in. diameter trees
Step 2: Making a Trail
First, you will need a trail, so unless you already have one start whacking and clipping a trail. To make a trail look nice, cut only the branches and plants you need to and try to leave as much as possible. However, in places where you have jumps you will want the trail a little wider. In some cases you may need to put dirt down on the trail. In my woods the ground is pretty spongy and is hard to bike on so laying down a layer of dirt helps out a lot.
Keep your trail entertaining, don't just blaze a trail straight through the woods, instead make it wind around and add a few things such as jumps, berms, balance beams, and bridges. However, don't crowd the trail, keep a good distance between each of the features and don't let the turns get to tight.
In the following steps I will show you how to make some different features that will make your trails exciting.
Step 3: Build a Bridge
Before you start building, find a place to make the bridge. I found the perfect place, it had enough trees to build on but not to much to make it to tight for turns. Now cut down a few trees that are about 4 inches in diameter (straighter the better), these will be the basis for your bridge. Once you have chopped your trees down strip them of their branches and cut them to the required length. You do not have to use trees, 2x4's or 4x4's would work well instead, trees are just cheaper and easier to get a hold of.
Now take some scrap wood, (I am using mostly 2x4's and 2x6's) and make some support triangles and screw them into nearby trees to support your bridge. Then you can lay down the trees you cut earlier, screw them in and test it a little bit to make sure they are strong enough.
You are now ready to lay out some decking. I used scrap wood for this. It really depends on how narrow you want your bridge. Just make sure you make the boards a little longer around the turns so you get enough area to turn on.
The best thing about these bridges is you can keep adding on and expanding! In a few places I am making landings so you can jump off the bridge and return to the trail. To do this cut down some trees and pile them up then put down a layer of dirt on top of them. Using trees is helpful because otherwise you would need a ton of dirt, and its just not worth digging it out of the ground with shovels.
Step 4: Jumps
Jumps are pretty easy o build. The hardest part for me is finding enough dirt, so I just dig a hole by each jump and use the dirt from that. Depending on the size you may just need to pile dirt and pack it down, but if you want to make it extreme then its going to take a little longer to build.
To build a bigger jump lay down a layer of wood then a layer of dirt and keep doing this until the jump is big enough. The shape of the jump is important to, you may have to go off of it to see what you need to change, but a nice smooth curve is what you want.
Step 5: Berms
The purpose of a berm is to help you make a tight turn at high speeds. Berms are actually quite simple to make and work very well. Start by piling up dirt into a long pile then pack it down and keep doing this until it gets banked enough. Depending on the turn you may need a huge berm, to do this either make a layer a rocks or wood (split fire wood is perfect!) then apply a top layer a dirt to smooth it off.
Optional-- On one of my berms I made it so you can jump the berm and land into another trail. The build is basically the same just make sure you can get over the berm. This is great if you are trying to expand your trails.
Step 6: Random Features
Urban Features- You may not realize it but there are hundreds of things around your yard to bike on. There are a few dried out ponds in my yard, and with a little sculpting these make excellent jumps and half pipes. Also, large rocks are great features to bike on.
Balance beams- Cheap, easy to build, and a great learning tool, balance beams will sharpen your biking skills immensely. To make yours, take a couple of logs that are roughly the same size then take some scrap wood ( I used 2x2s) and screw the ends into each log.
Step 7: Putting It All Together
Once you have completed all of your features, make a course that puts all of them together. Once you have a course, try racing it or biking it without messing up, there are all kinds of possibilities.
I am posting some videos of the trails I have made, I'll be posting some more in about a week because I crashed and got some stitches in my leg and cant ride right now. Also, sorry for the bad video quality but if I had a.. ...hmm... maybe a Go Pro like the one seen here (https://www.instructables.com/contest/extreme/?show=PRIZES) I could post some sweet videos!
Anyway, have fun, be safe, and make your mountain biking EXTREME!
Finalist in the