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Old 09-01-2010, 01:23 AM
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psykodad psykodad is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Mission Hills, CA
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How to Make a Mountain Bike Course

How to Make a Mountain Bike Course

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Mountain biking can be a very fun and rewarding sport, but without the proper place to ride, it can be no fun at all.


  1. Get permission. Nothing ruins the reputation of mountain bikers more than illegal trails. This is very important as it will make a difference to ask, before just building.
  2. The Forestry (commission) Service will destroy an illegal trail if they find it.
  3. Follow proper building procedures. A good place to find this info is IMBA. (http://www.imba.com/resources/trail_building/sustainable_trails.html)
  4. Find a large area to build at. Forests are a good place, but they must have a trail through them. Forests work well because they have obstacles already there.
  5. When you find a nice place to set up, try to build some jumps out of wood or dirt. Make them a reasonable height but not crazy. Perhaps 1-3 feet off the ground. Before you make the ramps though, make sure you have space to slow down when you get off the jump -- you don't want to ride right into a tree or mound or dirt.
  6. After you get some jumps in, you can add some more fun things.
    • Dig a space in the ground about 5-6 inches deep.
    • Find some logs or other types of large round pieces of wood.
    • Cut them down to sizes bout 1.5 feet long.
    • Put them in the ditch you dug and put some dirt around them so they don't rock around.
    • Space them apart so you get more bounce. Don't go to crazy on them or your tires will end up looking like squares.

Avoid the 10 Most Common Trail Building Mistakes
For as long as humans have been following trails, we've been making mistakes on trails. Still, our missteps - whether they left us in the digestive tracts of saber-toothed beasts or wandering the intestinal roadways of trail-encroaching suburbs - usually only affect ourselves.
When trail builders make mistakes, however, they affect everybody. Trail users, land managers, vegetation and wildlife all feel the sting of the well-meaning but inexperienced trail builder.
In our travels, we often see the same mistakes again and again, but the good news is they can all be avoided. In an effort to bury them alongside dinosaurs in the evolutionary graveyard, we bring you the top 10:
  1. Not Getting Land Manager Approval. We know, we know: you just want to build trails. But believe that nothing - not a single darned thing - more important before starting trail work than the approval of the land owner/manager. In our experience, a failure to secure permission is the single biggest cause of trail closures. When it comes to building trails, to ask for forgiveness is not better than to ask for permission.
  2. Falling for the Fall Line. Put simply, fall line trails are erosion nightmares. They turbo-charge natural and user-created erosion, exposing rocks and roots and generally living short lives before becoming loose, wide, ecosystem-damaging disasters. To build trails that last, use the Half Rule: trail grade, or steepness, shouldn't exceed half the grade, or steepness, of the hillside; and the 10 Percent Rule: overall trail grade should be 10 percent or less.
  3. Guessing the Grade. Nobody, no matter how masterful their eye, can guess trail grades right every time. Sure, it's fun to try, but use an inclinometer to confirm the grade whenever you're laying out trail - it's worth a regiment of self-powered, Fantasia-style Pulaskis, because no amount of trail work can fix a trail built on an unsustainable grade. If you don't have an inclinometer, we highly recommend an investment in this indispensable tool.
  4. Going Against the Flow. Not even race courses - which are sometimes designed with erratic flow to throw off a racer's rhythm - should make this trail building faux pas. All trail builders should make "smooth transitions" their mantra. Bad flow, especially fast sections leading into sharp turns, is a primary cause of user conflict. When you are building, think flow - it's the key to an enjoyable trail.
  5. Half Bench is Half Baked. The only time you should ever skimp on a fully bench cut trail is (1) when the side slope is so steep - 80 percent or greater - that the backslope exceeds six feet in height, or (2) when your trail design forces you to build close to the downhill side of a large tree. In both cases, a proper crib wall should be built to support your partial bench, and, as in all trails, the tread should maintain a five to seven percent outslope.
  6. West Virginia Climbing Turn. Our friends in West Virginia affectionately gave this name to some of their steep, fall line turns, and while they've gotten away with it in a few locations because of the soil and user types, most fall line turns will erode badly. If you want your climbing turns to endure, build them on sideslopes with no steeper than a seven to 10 percent grade.
  7. Building Houses of Straw. Remember the little piggy who built his house with straw? He got chowed by a wolf. Using shoddy materials when building trail structures leaves you and others similarly vulnerable by reducing the structure's safety and longevity. This opens the door to things like pain, guilt and even lawyers. Build it right. Keep the wolves at bay.
  8. Finishing a Line Before Its Time. We heartily support on-the-trail training, but some new trail builders are so eager to keep building more! new! better! trails that they don't devote enough time or care to each new trail section. Resist the temptation to move forward. Don't finish a line before its time, and always patch past mistakes.
  9. Continue Building a Pathway to Grandma's House. This is what we call some trail builders' obsession with lining trail with logs. A properly constructed trail shouldn't need them. In fact, lining a trail with logs can trap water and increase erosion.
  10. Ignore Old Wounds. As mountain bikers we may think our scars are cool, but scars on the land left by closed trails are damaging wounds that need to heal. Always reclaim eroded areas with check dams - natural obstacles like logs or rocks that divert the flow of water and soil - and reclaim all closed trails with transplanted native vegetation that conceals the old corridor. Shine the spotlight on the great trails you've built, not the ugly scars that have been left behind.


  • Another fun thing to do is find a long thin log about a foot in circumference, or a 2 by 4. Prop them up with pieces of wood under each end. try to get a small ramp on each side and then try to ride on it. It's hard and takes some practice.
  • Try to get creative with what you do. Don't be afraid to try different things.
  • For a nice ramp, try getting a log about 1-2 feet wide. Place the log horizontally across the trail and pack sand on either side. MAKE SURE TO PACK THE SAND REALLY HARD in order to stop the log rolling away as you jump it.
  • Don't make the jump too tall otherwise if you have to much speed you could jump into a tree.


  • As always you should wear a helmet. If you make bigger jumps or put things in the air, and you fall off, you could be in a world of hurt.
  • Also, don't try to do anything stupid like ride off a jump backwards with your eyes closed.
  • If you are making a trail for other people to use place warning signs to warn riders about upcoming hazards e.g. ramps, drop offs or bomb holes.

Things You'll Need

  • A decent mountain bike
  • Bike helmet
  • Some pieces of wood (logs and 2 by 4's work good)
  • A large place to ride
  • Protective gear (helmet, gloves, elbow/knee pads if you need them)
  • Friends to ride with (it's a lot more fun with company)
  • Spade
  • Gloves

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Mountain Bike Course. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


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