Trail building guide brought from old Pinkbike. -=NOT MY WORK JUST THOUGHT PEOPLE SHOULD SEE IT=-

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Trail building guide brought from old Pinkbike. -=NOT MY WORK JUST THOUGHT PEOPLE SHOULD SEE IT=-
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Posted: Jan 12, 2008 at 13:58 Quote
Hey there everyone, I had been looking around at all the old forums on pinkbike and found this trail building guide from a guy named southern freerider. He is really amazing at writing a guide for trail building. I though everyone should read it so I posted it. I take no credit for any of this. Southern freerider did all of this.

Posted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 6:05 am Post subject: ~ My Complete Trail Building Guide v1 ~


Please don't copy this and claim this as your own, you can copy and paste it however you like, just make sure you say it was writen by me.
Also, you may see this elsewhere on the web, don't slate me for this as I'm only trying to show as many people as possible and help their building.
Also, this guide took quite awhile to write, and it is all my own work, so if you don't like the length, don't complain, just read the section you're into.

///----------------Pollard's Complete Trail Building Guide v1------------------///

This is my complete trail building guide to everything trail building. I made this because although there are some very good guides on the web there aren't many that cover all the areas in trailbuilding, comprehensively, in one guide. This is only version 1, I will make a version 2 after recieveing feedback on this one, because there are many things I may have overlooked, or still do not know.

I have covered most aspects of trail building, including trail design, general dh trails, freeride stuff, dirt jumps and north shore. Though, you may want to skip to section that applies to you, or you want, because, the complete guide is quite long, and some of it may not be relevant to you.

Here are the sections I will be covering:

1. Trail Design
1.1 Where to build
1.2 What to build
1.3 Understanding Trail/Tread Grade
1.4 Creating flow
1.5 Controlling Trail Speed

2. General Trails
2.1 Tools
2.2 Inital Clearing
2.3 Secondary Clearing
2.4 Berms
2.5 Benching
2.6 Drainage
2.7 Smoothing out tracks
2.8 Maintenance
2.9 DH Track Tips

3. Freerider Stunts
3.1 Drops
3.2 Booters/Gap Jumps
3.3 Stepdowns

4. North Shore Stunts
4.1 What wood?
4.2 Tools
4.3 How to make rungs
4.4 Ladders bridges
4.5 Log rides
4.6 Get creative
4.7 Ladder Tips
4.8 General Tips

5. Dirt Jumps
5.1 Location
5.2 Tools
5.3 Starting out
5.4 Building the basic shape
5.5 Shaping
5.6 Drainage
5.7 Maintenance
5.8 Get creative
5.9 General Tips

6. Additional Stuff
6.1 Soil Types, pros & cons
6.2 Tool Storage
6.3 Dealing with social defects (chavs, etc..)


---------------1. Trail Design-------------

1.1 Where to build

Where you build your trail is one of the most important parts of building the trail, get this wrong and you either be making it difficult for yourself, or run the risk of getting it destroyed. There are various factors you need to consider when scoping for trail locations. Usually you won't be able to get a good area that covers all the factors, but weigh out the pros and cons and see what would be best for you. The factors to consider are, how hidden it is, how easy to get to, the relief (the area in terms of what the land is like, e.g. steep, mellow, treey, etc..), soil type. There are other area specific factors, but they are obvious.

Firstly, in most cases, unless your trail is legal, you want it as hidden as possible, so random people and chavs and ramblers don't unintentially, or purposely destroy it. Also, if other mountain bikers find it, it's usually good because sessions are funner and they might help maintain it, but sometimes it best to keep it completely hidden. Also, basic tip, never have it remotely visible from a fireroad, cause then the local ranger or warden is more likely to find it, and therefore more likely to destroy it.

Secondly, how easy is it to get too, not too big of a factor, but especially if you always have to carry tools to do trail work, you don't want an uber long ride or hard hike through the bushes. You can overcome this by locking tools to nearby trees. I generally have a 45mins ish ride to trails which is fine, and have been known to ride for over an hour with a spade each way to do trail work, but any longer and it might not be worth it.

Next, the relief, it depends on what kind of trail you want as to want sorta shape land you want to build on, but bear in mind steep trails wear quicker and take more work benching and mellow hills can be too slow.

Then there's, soil type, i'll explain soil types in 6.1, but basically you need to bear this in mind when deciding where to build. Don't just dig 6 inches in and asume that's what it is all the way in. dig at least a foot in, and take it from there.

1.2 What to build

Before you start getting dirty you need to have a vague idea of what kind if trail you want to build. If you don't, you'll be unfocussed, and the trail will seem thrown together and unnatural. And you may also waste time rebuilding sections.

I can't go through all the various options you have in terms of kind of trails to build, but the basic types are: DH track, generally bumpy, technical, and fast. This requires less work because you don't have to deal with drainage or erosion problems because they add to the feel and techinal side of the track. The DH track generally incorperates aspects of all the types of trails too, and requires a dher to help design because they'll know the best way to keep speed and have a fun and quick track.

Then there are basic singletrack trails. Simply a 6 inches or so wide flat track with up and downhill bits, non-banked turns and no jumps. These are quick and easy to build, but long so take a while. Drainage and erosion has to be serious incorpated into the design because of the high traffic and susectability to problems. Build it once, build it right.

Then there are general freeride trails. These are smoothed, buffed tracks from about 2ft to 4ft wide on average, all bermed up (banked turns), and usually with non-wooden stunts such as jumps, gaps, drop offs, hips, etc... These are the funnest because you can ride them over and over and still have fun, and trick sone of the stuff too. Same as singletrack in terms of drainage and erosion, a poorly build trail will fall apart and become unrideable with medium traffic in 3 or 4 months. A well built track can still be in great condition with high traffic after 2 or more years.

Finally, there are north shore trails, basically general freeride trails with or exclusively with wooden stunts (ladders, skinnies, etc..), called north shore because this style of trail originated in the north shore of canada. Also, be aware what you built influences who'll ride it, how many will, and affect the chances of the forestry commission destroying your trail.

1.3 Understanding Trail/Tread Grade

Basically, the trail grade is the steepness of the slope on the trail. There are a few basic but essentiall trail building tips relating to this, that must be abided by in almost all situations. Firstly, avoid the fall line, never build a trail that goes down the fall line (the shortest route down hill diorectly, the way water flows), because water will funnel down the trail stripping the trail of soil, exposing roots, creating gullies and scarring the enviroment, and also means people will brake, exasperating this.

Secondly, avoid flat areas because water tends to collect on the trail if you build on the flat. To avoid collecting water on the trail, make sure the trail tread is outsloped and outslopes towards somewhere lower than the trail tread. The half rule (more appriate for long lasting, high traffic XC trails), is where the steepness of the trail shouldn't be more than half as steep as the slope it lies on. This rule basically, stops water running down , and therefore wrecking your trail. Finally, use grade reversals as much as posible (within reason). Grade reversals are when you reverse the trade grade for a bit before going back down again. This sheds water, and adds variety and flow to an otherwise straight and boring section.

1.4 Creating Flow

Flow is what a trail has when everything seems to 'work', and flow naturally together, and is the ultimate goal when building a trail. Hard to explain, but basically, the way to create flow is to be consistent throughout the trail in terms of speed and type of feature, or if a variety is opted for, don't make abrupt changes between style and/or speed, because this recks flow. Also, contary to the opinion of some, a bumpy and technical trail can still have flow, but flow tends to be easier to make in smooth trails. Also, a poorly built trail tends to wreck flow because it harder to ride and don't make ya feel as good.

1.5 Controlling Trail Speed

Controlling the speed of the trail riders is a crucial and usually overlooked aspect of design the trail. For example, lets say you have a fast section, but then have to lead into a slower tight turn (this should be avoided anyway), you need to stop the rider slamming on the brakes right before the turn because this is how braking bumps occur and trails get wrecked. The best way it to use choke points. Basically you stick a few big rocks or logs along the trail, then make some gentle turns round them, gettin gprogfressively slower. This slows the rider down gradually, preserving the trail, and not wrecking trail flow. The big rock in the way of the original line stop people avoiding the slower line.

------------------2. General Trails---------------

2.1 Tools

What tools you use is a lil bit personal preference but using the right tool saves time and more importantly, effort. Also, it always helps if you buy the best quality tools you can, and keep them nice and sharp. Rust proof tools are a must if you plan on leaving them locked toi a tree in the forest, but if you can't get it rust proof, you can just stick the affected tool in a rubble bag instead.

First of all, there is the good old spade, which you use for most things trailbuilding wise, very versatile. Use a round tipped spade if possible as it makes getting into tough ground easier, and a big head means you can move more dirt quicker, making you more efficient. Long handle also makes work easier cause you'll have more leverage. This kind of spade is the general use spade. If you plan doing a lot of jumps and berms a short D-handle spade is helpful for 'whacking-in' jumps and berms. This kind of spade is the common gardening spade, short, light, d-handle, and a flat square head on it.

Then you have the mattock (a.k.a. pulaski, pick, adze) this by far the useful and time saving tool, which is mainly used for benching, berming, smoothing out bumps, and chopping roots and branches. Remember, when choosing the size of the head, bear in mind you'll probs be swinging it around for 5 or 6 hours, so don't buy a real heavy one.

Then, you have a rake, very useful, can clear the top soil, and smooth and shape berms and jumps with it. Fire rakes are the best, got tough pins and a long strong handle.

Sheers or similar tool(s) to clear foliage are essential if you are building anywhere that requires some defoliaging.

Also, rouble bags are very useful for transporting dirt, saves a hell of a lot of time and effort, and when you work in a pair, you become uber quick. They are the main tools, and of corse there are a few more specialist tools that are needed in some situations, for example, building wooden stunts (north shore), but I'll go through that later.

Remember to also bring with you a phone, water, food and bug spray (more useful than you'd think).

2.2 Initial Clearing

This is the first part of the actual trail building process. This invloves removing all branches that might get in the way, all logs and anything else that isn't top soil or mud where the trail will be. Don't do this to the entire trail, jus the section you plan on building. Remeber, build you trail on esection at the time, don't half-do bits, and skip bits without fully completeing them.

2.3 Secondary Clearing

This is the stage where you get rid off the top soil, the organic layer, basically, the layer of rotten crap that is above the soil. You need to get rid of the looser topsoil for the general trail tread, and shift it completely befdore you start digging up the mud or for berms. Depending on where you building, the type and thickness of your top soil will be different, and therefore there are a variety and ways of getting rid of it. Light stuff can literally be kicked away, heavier stuff can be raked, and heavier still (or if it rooty), will need mattocking, or digging up with a spade. Also, make sure you leave the shifted topsoil in a neat way, cause an ugly trail isn't as fun to ride.

2.4 Berms

Berms are the essense of a really fun trail, built well, they can require no maintenance, and add an element of fun to a trail that without the berm wouldn't be as good. There are loads of different types/styles of berms, but they all tend to follow the same basic principle, so once you understand the basic idea of how to make them, check out the various examples I've shown ya and make the berm to suit the situation. Also, one of the most important, if not the the most important thing to have your berm be like is having a smooth transition from the flat trail tread to the sloped tread of the berm. Above the ground this is simple to achieve, but because we'll be digging the berm into the ground (easier to build, mud you get from the ground, you do half the digging, looks cooler, and lasts longer), this is much harder.

Examples of berms:










Firstly, you need to completely visualise the berm, and where you need to dig into the ground in order to make it. The diagram I made shows where you have to dig in in order to make a berm that has smooth transiition from flat to slope. Remebr, it also helps to have an expereienced builder, or at least an experienced rider, to help you make it look and ride 'right'.
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Once its all visualised, you need to completely remove the layer of topsoil in the shape that I just showed you in the diagram, this is where you'll be digging into the ground.

Now, there is a debate as to whether you should use wood as a retaining wall in berms (rocks are always good), and my opinion based on lots of experience and feedback from lots of other trails is, providing the wood isn't gunna rot anytime soon, and used properly it is fine, but no wood is more reliable (but then takes a hell of a lot longer). You'll just have to see what works. So, if you're gunna use a retaining wall, make it along the outside of the berm, in the shape on the berm, and mnake sure it's nice and strong.

Then, preferably with a mattock, although it can be done with a spade, shift the dirt from the shape we cleared, up onto the retaining wall (or just generally in the shaper of a berm), so that the hole that is made by this is the bottom half of the berm (see the idea yet? taking the mud from bottom, using it on the top, so the digging down bit is part of the berm). Make sure you've covered the retaining wall (if used), with at least 6 inches of dirt. (I repeat, never use topsoil).

Once the general shape is made work on the entrance and exit of the berm, make sure it is a smooth transition from flat to slope, and to understand if you think it'll work or not, visualise riding it, would you like it (be unbiased, self-pride isn't damaged if the answer is no).

Then, with a rake (or feet), smooth out the berm so it looks whister smooth, then water (if you can), and 'whack-in'. The water (this is why we like the rain now and again), is essentiall to a well packed berm. To whack in, use spade at first, then you feet. Your feet apply more pressure, so if done first, will just make huge footprints. Now the berm should be in rideable condition.

You're not finished yet though, you need to smooth out the backslope. This is inside bit of the berm, smooth it out so you pedals don't hit it, and it looks better. Now you should be good to go, ride it a few times and then if it doesn't ride perfect, go back and fix it now.

Tips: make as many as possible because you get better with experience. Build it once, build it right. Take your time, don't rush it. Common Mistakes: not enough mud on retaining wall. Used topsoil. Too abrupt transition. Too steep.

2.5 Benching

Benching is where you turn a steep (or not very steep) slope, and make a flat trail tread. A good full benched trail is the sign of a good long lasting trail. I've seen so many trails that are riuned cause the builders couldn't be arsed to bench the basic trail, I think because they don't look at it as a fun aspect of the trail, they don't bother.

The first thing to do, is to shift the layer of top soil. Using a mattock makes quick work of this.

Then you need to cut away into the mud, until you have a flat trail tread (don't use mud that you dug up for the trail tread, it renders the trail not as strong and long lasting). Remeber to slope the tread very slightly outwards, so any water trails over down the slope.

Then, you need to smooth out the backslope, to make it blend in with the landscape properly.
IMBA made a good pic showing this:
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Then you're done. But to gain style points, cover the mud you dug out in the topsoil you dug out (and bracken or whatever too), that way you aint scarring the landscape and your trails blends in, it also looks neater. Benching takes a lot of work, but once you have a mattock, and good mattock technique, it quite quick, and certainly saves time fixing afterwards.

2.6 Drainage

There isn't really drainage to be dealt with in general trails, more avoiding drainage issues that could come up. Here are some basic ideas to follow in order to avoid drainage problems: outslope the trail tread to shed water, follow half rule (see 1.3), incorperate grade reversals, make sure water can always escape from the low bit of berms. Also, use you rcommon sense, water goes downhill (due to gravity), so make sure it can get off ya trail.

2.7 Smoothing Out Tracks

Not always wanted, but it generally makes for a nice track buffing it smooth. Not too much to really explain here, but its easiest with a mattock, and get rid of any annoying roots too, cause they come through eventually. Smoothing out tracks is generally common sense, but remeber the phrase, build it once, build it right.

2.8 Maintenance

Trail maintenance is an absolute must, unless of course no one rides it and it completely isoltaed from the elements. So basically, you need to maintain your trail, otherwise all that time and effort you spent would be wasted. The time vs. trail longevity involved in trail maintain means a couple of hours every month of so keeps the trail alive and kicking. Another thing to bear in mind is the more you percrastinate sp? (put it off, hehe Steve) fixing a part of trail takes longer than i would if you did it earlier, so just get on with it.

Firstly, you need to look at the trail very carefully to discern what needs maintaining. This involves getting off the bike and walking the whole trail, looking for quagmires (marshy muddy patches, caused by bad drainage), pools of water that will have formed by bad drainage, ruts, bumps that weren't there when you made the trail, anything that has been damaged in some way and anything else that you can think of that'll need maintaining.

Before you go ahead and fix the problem, work out what caused it and fix the cause, don't just fix the problem because the cause will make the same thin ghappen again, leaving you more work.

Drainage problems are easy to fix, most peopel can clearly see where water will go (downhill), so make sure it doesn't collect anywhere or run down the trail.

If braking bumps or ruts appear, you either are building on too steep ground and people are over breaking, not obeying the half rule, or even close to it, you have bad flow and have a fast sectrion leading into a sharp corner (you starting to see how following my guidence makes good long lasting trails yet?). Basically, you need to redesign that section of the trail, and clearly close off the old route.

Also, one aspect of maintenance that most people neglect to do is get feedback from a wide range of people using it. Because for example, the berm extrance may suck leading to bad flow, or that section is too tight and slow, or only you this pro are hitting that stunt and everyone else is going round it, or people are walking this stunt as there's no alternate route. All these things will need to be addressed as a lot of the time you'll be able to pin the trail (because you built it, duh), but some weaker riders can't even get through the sections. This aint right, just about everyone should be able to get to the bottom of the trail. The way to do this is the make you doubles tables (apply concept to northshore), or make an alternate, route. Where lets say the trail temporarily splits, one way a hig hskinny later, the other, an easy low ladder. You can predict where alternates will be needed, but it takes experience to know where.

2.9 DH Track Tips

Involve downhillers, there input is essential as they know how the track shoul dlook feel and ride like, they'll also know how best to design the track too.

Make sure you include as much vertical drop as possible, the longer the trail the better, and make best use of what drop you have by building across the hill, not straighten down it.

Plan for shuttling if possible, as some people especially, in canada (haha, jokes) are lazy and don't like walking up hill sto the top, whereas us english always have too, we not aloud cars in our forests.

Don't criss-cross fast DH runs, the only time you can criss-cross is when the trail is slow and you can see other riders around you. Include a variety, e.g. maybe slow and techy at top, then open up the fast and smooth (made the transition smoothly).

Rock is good, rock is your friend. Include as many rock gardens as possible as us DHers love it.

Berm it up baby, berms help you keep speed, and of course don't berm everything on a DH track as over camber turns and shit elimate the good from the bad bu tberms enable speed to be carried through turns.

Include jumps, drop-offs and alternate lines, and don't be wooden structurs (north shore), unless it uber wide, rollable, itsn't technical at all, use it more as a solid booter or landing ramp.

--------------3. Freeride Stunts-----------

3.1 Drops

Basically, a drop can either be built with a landing ramp or not, with a gap or without a gap. Obviously a gap makes rollin the drop impossible, and you can't have a gap without a landing ramp. There not too much to explain as far as building drops go, but I'll just go through a through ways to build drops, and how to (I'm not including a north shore ladder drop, I'll explain that later on).

Firslty, there is build a drop on a steep slope. To do this, you basically, dig out an Lshape in the side of the slope, and use the mud you dug out for the lip. You can either just use mud exclusively for the lip, or build a retaining wall for it. Using kinda the same principle as for berm retaining walls, except as a lip.

For tips on how best to stack logs and/or use 'box lips' see the bit below '3.2 Gap jumps...' as it applys the same principle for both. And yeh, for advice on landing ramps, it the same kinda thing as a takeoff or landing ramp explained below.

As for where else to build drops, cliff faces obvious provide a great place for drop. Only building usually is clearing and smoothing out bumps so they quick to build and you have unlimited runout which is good, leaves room for progression.

Finally, you could build a drop of a big natural bould under the ground, either with the rock exposed or not, it doesn't matter, but you simply builda strong lip using techinques described below, and a corresponding landing also using the technique below.

A few useful pointers for building drops: steep trannies (transitions, basically the curve of the landing ramp), build strong lips (use a rock slab or a wooden structure if possible) because strong lips won't wear down as quick over time and make the drop safer, never make do or die drops (where you can't roll the drop, or with a gap) in th emiddle of a trail without big obvious signs saying so, otherwise you end up with a bunch of dead xcers at the bottom of the drop.

3.2 Booters/Gap Jumps

Firstly, I'm not talking about dirt jumps like with steep lips and pits between, I mean freeride jumps. Booters are basically gap jumps without a landing, usually into a steep slope.

When deciding upon location for the jump try and incorperate as much of the natural relief as possible, so you are only really making a slope steep, or 'jumpafiing' a mound in the ground, basically you want to use the natural shape of the ground to your advantage, not just saving effort, but the trail ends up looking cooler.

There are 2 main ways to build take offs, the first is where you use pegs and logs to create a 'box', where you fill in the box with logs then dirt. This only works when you have access you good quality wood and a location that won't get the odd person trying to destroy it (trust me, in the UK it happens more than you'd think), but this method is quick and make a very strong, very neat and very compact takeoff and whenever possible make one these. The second, used when theres enough logs and very public land, it just to stack up logs in the right way to creat a solid base, and then pack mud on the it ,either just on the front, front and sides, or all around it. It's always best to pack mud all around it and makes it stronger and less liekly for a randomer to destroy it. Also, rocks work too, better than wood is it sooooo much longer, not that using good wood is ever really an issue.

The first method goes like this. First, prep the arae where the lip goes, just clear it of loose topsoil and all logs and rocks, and then visualise what you'll be building so you know what to aim for.

Then, collect all the wood you'll be using to make the pegs. The pegs are the things that get hammered into the ground, and that the back logs lean against. You can use any thickness log within reason, but bear in mind thin ones will break and thick one need sharpening and are still a bitch to get in the ground. Hammer them in with a sledgehammer, or stump or large log, or whatever you find. Then, collect all the wood you'll be using to make the sides and back of the box. You'll then need to cut the wood to size. The easiest way to get an axe, or the axe side of the mattock and just do it that way, but saw still work, just slower and neater.

Then, you need to use to jigsaw skills and peice it all together to look like the outline of a jump. Another thing to bear in mind is you can use you north shore building skill sif you good at that instead of pegs, works better than pegs but it takes longer and much more difficult. Jigsaw the box together, or tetris it together (whatever floats ya boat), then fill the box first with rocks, or logs if you don't have rocks like us brits. bearing in mind you be putting 6 inches of dirt on top. Then simply put the dirt on (just topsoil remember).

Never ever ever ever ever get the mud from a huge great big hole next to lip because firstly, its as danger as f, secondly if you needs to abort the jump you're stuffed, and thirdly, it more liekly to get you trails destoryed. Stop being a lazy bones and make a hole not near the lip. But then you say you have to walk real far every scopeful, you instead you fill a rubblebag with dirt, and transport the dirt that. It works well with 2 bags, and 2 people. 1 person digs for awhile, filling up the bags, and the other carries the bags to the lips, then swap.

Once the dirt is on the takeoff shape it with a rake (use an experiened builder if possible), or a spade, or if you real cheap your feet. If you can't tell whether its a good shape or not, visualise riding it and seeing whether you ride it good or not.

Then comes the process of dirt compression, or 'whacking in' as its commonly known. You start off by getting the dirt wet (if not possible, don't worry, skip this stage, then come back later in the rain and re-pack), then start out whacking it in with a spade (D-Handle flat spade if possible), then use you feet to compress the dirt. Use the spade first cause there is less pressure and won't leave footprints in it. Once it packed enough, your feet won't leave footprint and you can pack it nice hard.

Then, don't ride it till it dry because otherwise you'll leave huge ruts in it, which then hardens, and you takeoff officially becomes worse because you couldn't be bothered to wait.

The second method works the same as the first, except as opposed to making a box, you stack up the log in the shape of the jump, then covering the whole thing in 6 inches of dirt. As to how to stack the logs, there a bit of an art to it, and tetris skills come in good use. Try and link in logs to line the side too, sometimes overlooked it adds strength to it.

Landing ramps work in the same way, except for the fact it needs to be considerably wider than the takeoffs.

Then, once you gap is done, don't go home, make the run in and runout good, because a shite run in/out means shite jump thgat either leaves you pedalling liek mad or coming short, or slamming on the brakes and making braking bumps, or slamming on the brakes and crashing.

General tips for building booter and gap jumps: get out and build as many as possible, and ride them a lot too. You'll soon work out what work shape works, what distances work, what widths work, etc... Also, don't build sniper trannies! What i mean by this is don't make the landing ramps soo short and steep you need sniper precision to nail it properly.

3.3 Stepdowns

Building a stepdown is basically a mix of other trail building techniques, such as landing ramps, take offs, genreal trail skills for smoothing in run, etc... So instead of repeating myself I'll just give some general tips:

make a good in run, crap inruns make riding the gap harder and no as fun
clear the run out fully, so often do i see stepdowns with like no run out it sannoying, it just means th eurn out gets bumpy cause people slam on the brakes.
don't build snipe rtrannys, just means judging speed becomes too much of a hassle
if the tsepdown vertically drops a lot steep trannies are a must
if you incorperating a stepdown into a trail, you have to have an alternate for those non huckers out there
build with the guidence of an experience stepdown sender so your not wasting your time on something that's unrideable
again, as with most things, experience really helps

----------------4. North shore Stunts------------------

4.1 What Wood?

The wood has to be durable, resistent to moisture, decay, insects, and the elements (sun, cold, wet, dry, snow, ice, etc...). E.g. redwood, cedar, white oak, cypress, locust and mazanita (I don't actually know the last 3, but IMBA says they are fine). Generally, use your common sense too, or experiement. Commericial wood can be used to, but get advice from the dudes in the shop as to how resistent and durable it is. Don't use wooden pallets, scrap wood, ply, soft woods (e.g. pine), random sticks, chipboard, or any other inappropriate materials. Don't cut down trees unless permission has been given, so if you don't have permission you'll need to use dead wood. Make sure the dead wood is big enough to resist decay and/or detiriation, and always remove the bark. If in doubt of the wood you want to use, consult an expert, someone who knows what they talking about, or an experienced trail builder.

4.2 Tools

There are a zillion tools you can use to do the job but here are the ones I reccommend for the majority of north shore stunts (on top of standard trail tools).

Axe, used for making rungs and genrally chopping stuff (very useful). You can use the backside of a mattock but you'll be using it alot get a dedicated axe.
Saw, cutting down rungs and also general cutting and sizing wood (very useful). Big 2 person saws are needed if you have to cut through seriously big logs or stumps or whatever.
Wedge, used to split logs to make rungs. Use common sense and advice as to what size and style to get.
Hammer (sledgehammer), using with the wedge to make rungs.
A bark peeling tool, e.g. spud, drawknife, adze. Choose which you think will be easiest for you.
Small hammer, for hammering in nails.
Nails, not really a tool but don't forget them. People have nail preferences but i find 6" and 9" galvanised nails to be the most common. Spiral nailed are supposed to be even better too. Obvious for huge stuff 12" nails can be used, but don't unnecesarily. Also, screws can be used but then you need a drill and plenty of power for it.

4.3 How to make rungs

Having not ever made rungs do it being england over here (no big trees to make rungs from), I've never personally made any rungs, but I've found two different links that do an excellent job of explaining it. Check them out.

4.4 Ladder Bridges

There are loads of different ways to make ladders, and of course it depends on where you're building too, but I'll just quick run through a typical method of building them, and through in a few constrution tips along the way.

First of all do all the initial clearing where the shore will go, and also make sure you clear any dangerous things in the surrounding 'fall zone' too (the fall zone is where a rider would fall if they had to abort the stunt, or fall off).

Then, gather all the wood you'll be using, you can do this as you go but it helps to gather in bunches. For example you coul dhave 1 person making rungs, and the other nailling it all together. Also, debark the wood at this stage too.

You'll need to then make the upright posts that will hold the ladder up. Chop some logs up to size, bearing in mind at least 2ft will be underground. Then, dig a 2ft(ish) hole, for the posts, stick a big flat rock as a base (having no rock base leaves the wood prone to detiorate damaging the stunt's long term integrity). Then, stick the post logs down in the hole and fill the hole in, this should result in a strong supporting post.

Once you have enough posts in you'll need to put the main stringers in, the stringers are what the rungs are nailed to. To do this, cut them size, and use your common sense. Use your biggist nails to connect the stringers and the supporting posts.

Then, beef up the structure using diagonal struts and again common sense, and make it stronger than you first anticipate it to be. Use the pictures to give you ideas where to beef it up.

Then, nail the rungs on, without consistent gaps to shed mud and water from collecting, see examples for spacing ideas.

Then, you just need to put additional traction on if needed, see 4.8 on what to use for this.

4.7 and 4.8 will give you further tips and guidence on building north shore, be sure to read through them too, and if in doubt, use you common sense.

4.5 Log Rides

Log rides are where you have the option to ride along a log, adding a technical challenge to the trail. There are 2 styles are log rides, cut away ones, and non cut away ones. The pictures will show you the difference.
Cut away: [P= size=m align=c] [/P]

First of all choose what you want to do, and choose an appropriate log to use. If you decide upon a non cut away one, don't debark, otherwise, debark. Either way, you're going to need some form of additional traction otherwise they'l quickly become a slippery nightmare, see 4.8 for traction tips. To cut away at the log, you can use any method, such as axe, saw, or whatever but by far the easiest is a chainsaw. Even though you have to carry it to the trail, the trail and effort saved easily outweights any transport trouble.

You can include log rides wherever and whenever you want, and again, use your common sense.

4.6 Get Creative

One of the most fun things about building north shore is the creativity you can incorperate. It almost becomes an art form. Look at the following examples for insipration and come up with your own uber creative line.





[P= size=m align=c] [/P]
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4.7 Ladder Tips

Don't put a ladder in that is out of place, by that I mean for example don't put a super skinny ladder 15ft up in the middle of an easy trail.
Make the ladder high up, this adds an element of danger but also makes it more challenging and fun.
Armor the entrance and exit, make sure you make the area as durable as possible, using rocks if possible.
Vary the length, height and width to add a challenging aspect to it.
Makes turns in it, and off camber sections, make sur when doing turn to make the corner bits wider so your wheels can track round without falling off.
Make steep ups and steep downs, but make sure its still rideable.
Link em up, link ladder sections to make an uber cool trail.
Stick some drop offs in there, consider the impact force of the drop on the landing and make stronger if necesary.
Combine ladders with other crazy stunts such as teeter totters and discombobulators.
Keep them a secret, obvious tell ya mates, but try and hide them because unless you've been given permission, the forestry commission will destroy them in all probability.

4.8 General Tips

Don't have an exposed sharp edges, not just protruding nails, but sharp edges in the wood hurt too.
Rungs shouldn't stick over the edge by any more than a few inches.
Avoid gaps greater than 2".
All nails (or screws) should be corrosion rssistent. Galvanised stuff works well.
For additional traction:
you can score the surface with a saw,
cover riding surface with anti-slip paint designed for tough use,
attach diamond mesh lade (chicken wire and roofing materials tend not to last too long)
Only build on stable land, marshy land is a nono.
Build preferably with an experienced builder to stop you making stupid time wasting and dangerous mistakes.

------------------5. Dirt Jumps----------------

5.1 Location

For the location of dirt jumps, you use pretty much same concept as general trails (read 1.1), except with a few differences. You'll want the dirt jumps on a flat, or preferably, slightly downhill slope, so pumping to the end is easier. You'll also probably want some form of a roll-in to save a hard pedal-in too but that's optional. Mud is also quite an important factor, read 6.1 for a mud guide. Also, you really want to keep in hidden and away from where people might find it. Also, if the trees around the jumps tend to drop a lot of pine needles or leaves or whatever, you might not want to build under them unless you like sweeping them up, however does provide with nice shade in summer, so its a tradeoff. Also, be by a water supply such as a river or lake helps because you can collect water from there to use on the jumps.

5.2 Tools

For dirt jumping it's less personal preference toolswise, but you can do all the work with a simple spade, so all other tools just make life easier. In priority order:

Long handle spade, used for general digging, and shaping if you don't have a special flat head D-handle spade. The long handle makes life easier for your back, and a pointed tip makes initally getting into any tough ground easier.
Short D-handle spade, with a flat square head, used mostly for shaping, but can also be used for general spadework.
Wheelbarrow, used if you're getting your mud not from the pits inbetween the jumps.
Rake, can be used to shape lips, though not everyone likes them over the standard spade.
Mattock (a.k.a. 'pick'), used to get through the initial layer of very tough ground (not essential).
Broom, used to sweet dusty or leavy hardpacked trails (not essential).
Bucket or watering can, to water jumps if you have a lake or river nearby.

That's about it, remeber you can use what you want, or any additional tools if need be.

5.3 Starting Out

Get some insirpation by scanning the web for killer sweet dirt jumps. Or just check out these sweet pics I found.









Now you have some motivation, round up your mates (threaten them if need be with beatings and stuff) so you have someone to help dig, and it'll also be quicker that way. Also, scope out the spot you'll be building at prior to this. Round up ya tools and your bikes and head off.

Once you're there, do intial clearing everywhere in planned jumps vacinity (see 2.2), then, once you visualised where you be building the jumps, do secondary clearing anywhere you'll be digging into the ground.

5.4 Building the basic shape

First of all you need to understand the shape of a dirt jump and the connecting pits. To do this, analyse pictures of some quality jumps to get the idea. Then, start off my digging up the dirt from infront of the first lip, to make the first pit, and pile up the dirt where the lip will be. Then, do the same for the landing ramp, starting the pit that'll connect the first and second jump. Then, skip on the the shaping stage, or you can get the basic shape of the rest of the jumps at this stage too. You can for example work with ya mates building jumps simultainously. If you need more dirt to get the lips high or wider, widen the pit, or use the dirt from the drainage (5.6) holes. Don't just keep on digging down otherwise the trannies will be too abrupt. If you dig deeper, you'd have to make the gap between the jumps bigger.

5.5 Shaping

Once the dirt is in the general shape of the jump, you'll need to 'whack it in', compress it. Ideally you should wet the jumps at this stage, but you can always wet them later and recompress, but it's best the wet before you whack it in. Now, use your rake, or spade to spread the dirt around so its all smooth and looks like a jump. To whack it in, hit it with a spade as hard as you can, and keep whacking until its all smooth and even. Make sure to whack in the sides and back too otherwise it'll fall apart.

I have heard of another way to whack them in, which is to put carpet over the dirt then hit to carpet, but my way works too, just try both and see which you like.

Remeber, shapin glips in an art, so get as much practise and so can, and ride a lot so you know what the 'perfect' lip should be like. If in doubt, do it, then get an experienced jumping to tell you where you went right and/or wrong.

Also, very important tip here, if the jumps are wet (they probably will be after ya finished building them cause you wet them), do not ride them, you'll leave big ruts it them. Leave for a couple of days (or until next weekend), so they go real hard. Don't be impatient, you just wreck them (I know it's hard to wait once ya finally finished but be patient).

5.6 Drainage

Now, drainage is something you should consider because you even start digging, there are a few different ways to do this, so have at look at these various examples to see what ya options are.

It doesn't take rocket science to build them, water goes downhill, use that nice easy to remeber fact and you'll be fine. Also, try not to buil din the bottom of a water basin otherwise you get more to deal with that to do be dealing with.

5.7 Maintenance

Maintenance is one of, if the most important part of building the jumps, without it, the jumps will deterioate and fall apart, and all that effort has gone to waste.

You start off by getting feedback from ya mates and other riders to see if they like the general shape and flow. If not, fix that first be rebuilding or reshaping anything if necessary. This is often overlooked unfortunately, and some jumps are only then ridden by a few beause they are soo hard, or too sketchy. So, get feedback to make sure ya jumps are good for everyone.

Then, fix up any damaged stuff now. Don't just fix, fix the problem not the result of the problem, but if it is just someone being a dick or an accident just repair.

Then, sort out any other problems such as cracked lips, ruts, puddles, general crap all over jumps such as leaves and stuff, by using your common sense. Also, clean up any litter as it wrecks the general atomsphere and get the jumps destroyed.

5.8 Get Creative

Remeber, if at all possible, get creative and don't just build a basic row of jumps, mix it up, throw in berms, hips, step-ups, step-downs, whoops, etc.. Be creative and come up with the craziest things around.

Here's a few pics to get you inspired.

5.9 General Tips

Build as much as you can, start small and get bigger, good jumps take experience to build right.
Don't drop litter.
If it rains, get out and dig, don't be a pussy.
Take you time, Rome wasn't build in a day, neither was woburn or wisley.
Remeber to maintain the jumps.
Build a runout, and don't forget to leave room for it when planning it.
Build the jumps nice and wide, nothing's worse than skinny trannies.
Make tabled landing lips, basically, it means you have a bit of a saveguard if you going too slow because you screwed up the pump for example.
Know your soils! Read 6.1 for a guide to mud.
Round up any many mates as possible, the more mates, the quicker the jumps come up.
Put carpet on the landing lips, this keeps the mud together, especially you tryting spinny tricks or case a lot.
A VERY IMPORTANT TIP, don't bring your girlfriend along to help dig, she'll just dump your ass, bring her riding, but NOT digging.

-------------6. Additional Stuff--------------

6.1 Soil types, pros and cons

(sourced from IMBA: Trail Solutions)

Sandy Soil:

Dry: Loose, feels rough, you can see indivudual grains of sand.
Wet: Squeeze a handful of it. Sand will form a ball that crumbles apart easily and does not stain your fingers.

Silty Soil:

Dry: It feels smooth and powdery, like flour.
Wet: It feels smooth, but not sticky, and crumbles apart.

Clay Soil:

Dry: Clods are almost impossible to break with your fingers.
Wet: It is sticky, easily forms a ball, and leaves stain on your fingers.

Loamy Soil (BEST):
mix of various types

Dry: Clods are moderately difficult to break and somewhat gritty to touch.
Wet: It niether gritty nor sticky; it forms a firm ball when squeezed.


Water-holding capacity:

Sand - Low
Silt - Medium-to-high
Clay - High
Loamy - Medium

Drainage Rate:

Sand - High
Silt - Slow-to-medium
Clay - Very slow
Loamy - High


Sand - Low
Silt - Medium
Clay - High
Loamy - High

Susceptibility to water erosion:

Sand - Low
Silt - High
Clay - Low (if compressed) High (if not)
Loamy - Low

6.2 Tool Storage

I'm going to give you tips on how to store tools around the trail, so that you don't have to lug them around with you. One way is look them to a tree, this works when you have a something in the tool to put the lock through. When doing this, still hide the tools, just make sure you lock it to tree deep in the forest, but still nearish to your trail., and remeber to bring the key with you! I have forgot a few times and it serious annoys you, lol. If you can't lock the tool to a tree you have to litterly hide it or bury it, don't bury something so you can't find it, I once spend over an hour finding a rake, lol (I found it in the end). Your other tool storage option is to find a storeroom of some kind near to trail to store them in.

6.3 Dealing with social defects (chavs, etc..)

Basically, if you build to near any places chavs (or whatever you call them) chances are they'll come over and ruin your fun and your jumps, you build as far away from them as possible. If your building and them come over giving you trouble, simply wave your spade them and hope they go away, if they start trying to nick you bike, beat them to death with the spade (I take no responisibility), or even better a mattock would definitly stop them screwing with ya.


Thanks for reading (part of) my guide, please post or email you tips or corrections, and providing they sensible I'll include it in v.2. Also, if there are any sections I may have missed, just tell me.
Please visit and sign up to my forum and discuss this and other trail building techniques there.

I hope you all enjoyed this as I did. and if Southern freerider is reading this great job M8!

Here is a link to the original

Posted: Jan 12, 2008 at 19:29 Quote
bomb thread. so what i am wondering, when building in the woods, rake up all of the leaves and stuff thats on top till you get to dirt?

Posted: Jan 12, 2008 at 19:33 Quote
backflip101 wrote:
bomb thread. so what i am wondering, when building in the woods, rake up all of the leaves and stuff thats on top till you get to dirt?

Well it does actually help. If your dealing with gras what I did was weed wacked the grass so low that the dirt started to show then I raked. But yeah you can just rake all the leaves and stuff away. The more you rake the smoother the run in will be allowing for more speed towards the jumps.

Posted: Jan 12, 2008 at 19:34 Quote
WOW..some of that stuff is amazing! makes me want to go out and ride so bad!

Posted: Jan 12, 2008 at 19:36 Quote
I forgot all about this thing it was like my bible when I started building

Posted: Jan 12, 2008 at 19:39 Quote
jordanmolby wrote:
WOW..some of that stuff is amazing! makes me want to go out and ride so bad!

I felt the same way dude! I went outside to plan where to put my jumps.

Posted: Jan 12, 2008 at 19:40 Quote
I myself have one problem though. Where do I dig the dirt for the jumps. It says do it in the gaps but not to dig deep. I should be renting a backhoe to get my dirt for me but im not too sure where he is to get it as I will have 2 sets of dirt jumps beside each other in 3 different rows.

Posted: Jan 12, 2008 at 19:42 Quote
dirtjumper25 wrote:
I myself have one problem though. Where do I dig the dirt for the jumps. It says do it in the gaps but not to dig deep. I should be renting a backhoe to get my dirt for me but im not too sure where he is to get it as I will have 2 sets of dirt jumps beside each other in 3 different rows.

if its possible a big hole somewhere out of the way like beside the outermost row will work or build dugouts

Posted: Jan 13, 2008 at 4:49 Quote
Thats what I was thinking. I got about a section with about 25ft by 25ft that I could dig out of. Thank god for Backhoes.

Posted: Jan 13, 2008 at 5:06 Quote
this could be usful to any novice (like me) cheers for the post


Posted: Jan 13, 2008 at 6:18 Quote
dirtjumper25 wrote:
Thats what I was thinking. I got about a section with about 25ft by 25ft that I could dig out of. Thank god for Backhoes.

man we have a 5X7 hole we dug with shovels for dirt

Posted: Jan 13, 2008 at 6:23 Quote
cheers its going to be so helpful for me im planning of building a trail this yearBeer Beer

Posted: Jan 13, 2008 at 11:40 Quote
wtt-tmr wrote:
cheers its going to be so helpful for me im planning of building a trail this yearBeer Beer

Glad you guys like it.

Posted: Jan 13, 2008 at 11:43 Quote
thank you so so much!!!!!!!!

Posted: Jan 13, 2008 at 11:50 Quote
I'll put some pics of my trai which is in progress, i've got a perfect location.
Finshed building hip jump kicker and started landing, I also cleared some room for another berm so i can have 'S' berms which will be awesome

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