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  1. #1
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    A backyard pump track is born!

    So after thinking about it for a couple of years, we finally decided to put a pump track in our back yard! I thought I'd post up some progress pics as we go along.

    I hired some local trail builders, The Shovel Crew, to do the work since I'm lazy and need instant gratification. Today was the first day of four build days that will be spread over the next week or two.

    The first step was to mark up the yard. The shape of our yard naturally suggested the layout, which goes along the perimeter of the available space. The yard is 65' long, 25' wide at the widest point, and 15' wide at the narrowest point. I knew I wanted medium-sized rollers at 10' intervals, so the only big remaining questions were whether to incorporate a table top or step-up, and how much to vary the roller height. I decided a step-up would be fun, and the Shovel Crew convinced me that rollers of varying heights would be best, and they also suggested a crossover from one side of the track to the other that will allow more line options. Here's the marked up yard:





    The next step was to bring in dirt. We wanted the whole track to be above the surface level of our yard for better drainage, since we live in Seattle. My guys were able to find a 50/50 clay/sand dirt mix and we brought in about 28 cubic yards in 2 dump truck loads:



    We're committed now! The next step was to move the dirt from the driveway to the back yard. The mini-excavator had a perfectly sized bucket to fill a wheelbarrow. With 3 guys rolling wheelbarrows back and forth, the dirt started to move pretty quickly. They started by just filling in the outlines with a base of dirt.





    Once the whole track was filled in with a layer of dirt, a plate compactor was used to pack it down:

    Last edited by A girl from Seattle; 04-05-2011 at 06:54 PM.
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  2. #2
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    The plate compactor seemed like it did a really good job of packing everything down quickly.





    Then they started building up the tight 180-degree berm that will fit into the 15' wide end of the yard. The mini-excavator came in handy again to pack the dirt into some semblance of a berm:



    Then it became a matter of bringing in dirt to the location of each remaining berm and roller.





    The neighbors were fascinated!

    Last edited by A girl from Seattle; 04-05-2011 at 06:44 PM.
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  3. #3
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    Keep on pushing those wheelbarrows, guys!



    Check out the sweet step-up that's forming!



    Wow, it's starting to look like a pump track!





    So that's where we stand at the end of Day 1! I'm really pleased with the progress they made today, and I can't wait for Day 2! There is still a small pile of dirt in the driveway and some more height to be gained on the berms and rollers, so the excavator will be working for a couple more hours during the next day or two, if the weather cooperates, and then it will be all shovel work from there. I'll post up more pics when I get them!
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  4. #4
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    great stuff

  5. #5
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    That's great progress for one day!

  6. #6
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    your neighbors must hate you... LOL

  7. #7
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    Actually, I was really surprised by how interested they all were. They all seemed to think it was cool, nobody expressed any concerns or anything. People kept checking in at regular intervals to see the progress, and I'm sure they all think we're crazy but they were surprisingly supportive. I think my biggest problem with the neighbors will be keeping their kids off the track. It's all fun and games until someone breaks an arm and sues you! We're hoping the 6' fence with locked gates will help.
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  8. #8
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    Looks great! Keep the photos coming

    Quote Originally Posted by A girl from Seattle
    It's all fun and games until someone breaks an arm and sues you!
    Exactly the problem with people these days...

  9. #9
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    That looks like a lot of work. Wish it were in my neck of the woods, though--I might learn a thing or two.

  10. #10
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    Wow! Awesome! Looks like great dirt, too.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by A girl from Seattle
    Actually, I was really surprised by how interested they all were. They all seemed to think it was cool, nobody expressed any concerns or anything. People kept checking in at regular intervals to see the progress, and I'm sure they all think we're crazy but they were surprisingly supportive. I think my biggest problem with the neighbors will be keeping their kids off the track. It's all fun and games until someone breaks an arm and sues you! We're hoping the 6' fence with locked gates will help.
    best get a liability release before hand. no joke.


    That suggestion aside, nice work! Keep us posted on how it comes out.

  12. #12
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    I am fascinated by this! Post more updates.

  13. #13
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    subscribed!!

  14. #14
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    wow alot of progress for 1 day! Sweet

  15. #15
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    Washington law is very much on your side, should a neighbor kid get hurt...
    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=4.24.210

    That won't necessarily stop an a neighbor from suing though, just in hopes of winning some money if they can persuade a jury that you were negligent in some way. An umbrella insurance policy will usually cover your legal costs, though - since the insurer would be on the hook to pay out, they generally want to provide a lawyer to defend you. It's worth looking into.

  16. #16
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    As an insurance Agent I would be hesitant to write a homeowners policy on the property.

    If I was a property owner with a pump track that anyone other than my own family would be using, I would raise my liability limits has high as I could.

    Really awesome project!!! Good Luck!

  17. #17
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    You can write up a waiver and have people sign it. Copy their driver's license and take their pic as well. Under 18 better bring a parent. If they are not cool with it, you are not cool with LETTING them ride (I wont even allow you to hang out without signing, family and GF have to sign too). It is your pump track. Pump track nation and Rays MTB both have waivers you can steal some verbiage from.

    A friend told me this and it has stuck with me. When someone gets hurt, they dont sue you, their insurance company does. Cover your rear!

    Cool project, I too started a backyard pump track this year The compactor looks like a good idea, i have been using the stomp method with limited success

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dl1030
    The compactor looks like a good idea, i have been using the stomp method with limited success

    http://www.yardproduct.com/product_i...roducts_id=540
    or
    one of those water-filled rollers helps wonders.

  19. #19
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    Thanks for the props! And the legal advice. A lot to think about there. I never thought about the fact that it's the insurance company that sues you, so even if you're confident that your friend/relative would never take legal action, that doesn't mean their insurance company won't. A sobering thought. I will look into an umbrella policy and I will definitely have a "no waiver, no helmet = no ride" rule.

    The guys are back this morning for a couple more hours of work with the mini-excavator, so I hope to post some more progress pics tonight! Yay!

    DL1030, post up pics of your pump track progress! And yes, the plate compactor is an awesome invention, although those tampers seem to work pretty well too.
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  20. #20
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    I wasnt going to clutter your thread but since you asked.

    This was the first 10yards of dirt and some basic shaping for experience. Have tore these up and added more dirt for taller berms but kept the line.


    got another 20 yards and piled all berms (new and old) 3.5'+ tall. Will try to get a better pic tonight as these dont show the overall track very well. basic 'L' shape track


    *I have never built a pump track before (or rode one), lol. learning as I go and having a blast doing it! 1'x10' for rollers, (4) 9' radius berms, (1) 12' radius. i ride 26" bikes, looking for a 24"

    as for your track, you are using 20" bikes? that 180 berm must be around 6' radius, that is pretty tight! how tall do you plan to make the berms? height makes a huge difference i am finding out.

    drainage is going in after the track?

    are you learning/helping as they are building? you are going to have a life time of shovel work, better to be taught than to teach yourself. I wish there was someone local that could teach me some tricks.

  21. #21
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    DL1030, that looks like a great start, keep going!! It's fun to look at what other folks are doing for inspiration. I think the dimensions you list are right on. Most people seem to build their rollers too tall and too close together to get good flow. A one-foot tall roller doesn't seem like much and 10' spacing seems huge, until you ride it and then they look a lot taller and closer together at speed.

    We're riding a 26" bike, but it's a DJ bike and I think it will work well. You're right, that one berm at the end is tight. It's going to get steeper though, height is supposed to help a lot and we'll just have to practice until it gets doable. Other folks have built pump tracks with even tighter berms, so hopefully we'll be OK!

    I've been leaving the work to the guys since they bid it as a complete job, but I have no doubt we'll be doing plenty of shoveling later for maintenance, line changes, and building up the features as we get better. All this reading and watching has taught me quite a bit!
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  22. #22
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    My guys made some more progress today! Here are a few pics.

    They seem happy as long as they have shovels in their hands:



    Adding more dirt and starting to shape these berms:



    Big progress, very exciting!



    Not sure how a pitchfork got involved.



    Now it's all covered by tarps and we must wait a few days for it to settle and not be rainy. The weather looks good for Friday and Saturday, so it could be rideable this weekend!
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  23. #23
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    awesome!

  24. #24
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    Nice work, keep us posted on the pictures.
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  25. #25
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    I'm jealous, great work.

  26. #26
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    Even better pics!



    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  27. #27
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    Nice work man!

    Looks like a blast

  28. #28
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    PM me your address- I live in maple leaf.
    Will bring beer

  29. #29
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    Looks awesome for such a tight space. Did you get some extra drainage in there?

  30. #30
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    Good job! Looks Great!

    Hey Seattle,

    Subscribed

    Looking forward to the rest of the story!

    Take care and Good Luck,

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  31. #31
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    Awesomeness right at the backyard...

  32. #32
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    It's rideable!!! The guys made big progress today and it's practically done! Here are some pics from test riding. Now it just needs to dry out and firm up over the next 5-7 days, then a final day of pimping and it's finished. It's looking awesome, I really like how it turned out!! I find it hard to get around it right now, but it's still pretty soft and should get easier as it firms up. I can't believe I have this in my back yard now when 2 weeks ago it was all grass!







    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  33. #33
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    Pretty cool! You should shoot some videos once it hardens up.

  34. #34
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    That looks great!

  35. #35
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    this is a great use of space. really wish i'd done something similar. though, i think your side is wider than mine by a foot or two.

  36. #36
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    Definite props! And another bonus....no more MOWING!

  37. #37
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    Thats awesome!

  38. #38
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    That turned out cool !

  39. #39
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    And to turn it into a expert only pump track, plant poison ivy along it's side... ;-)

  40. #40
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    Looks great. Now the real work starts to make sure it doesnt go poof in the wind. The hard part will be to keep it in good shape. Just a suggestion, but maybe add a launch ramp for more speed?
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  41. #41
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    heck yeah! looking great Seattle!

  42. #42
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    What an excellent use of space, looks great!
    I'm enjoying my childhood way too much to ever give it up.

  43. #43
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    great now i have to build one for my yard
    good job.
    Great photo's, for future reference there is no need to actually physically move a plate compactor they should move on their own via your guidence. if the compactor merely vibrates and quits moving simply clean the air filter and uusally that sovles the problem .

  44. #44
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    Thanks for the comments. I've been riding the new pump track a little bit each day for the past few days, although I can't ride it much because it's still soft in a few places, especially the 180 degree berm at the skinny end. The soft spots rob your energy, making it hard to keep up momentum, plus riding on them creates grooves in the track that I then have to stomp down. However, I'm happy to see that it is slowly but surely drying, even though it has been rainy. I keep the whole thing tarped except when the sun comes out. I think it's going to be at least another week until the berm sets up firm.

    The good news is I can now consistently do several laps in either direction without getting hung up. It's really fun and I can tell I'm going to love this thing! And as hard as it may be to believe, I already felt a difference in my trail riding when I did an XC ride over the weekend! I was looser and better able to use my body to put the bike where I wanted and conserve momentum. I was psyched to feel a difference already!

    Drainage: still needs help. There is a drainage pipe running through the 180 berm and next to the step-down thing that turned into a table/double thing. Those aren't really doing anything. My biggest concern is how the track will hold up to rain. I could see the clay dirt soaking up a lot of water and being soft all winter... but I'm hoping that with time and lots of riding and some sun this summer, it will set up hard and concrete-like. We'll see.

    Maintenance: Again, only time will tell how much attention will be needed here. I added some dirt to a couple of places yesterday and it seemed to bond well with the existing dirt, so I think ongoing dirt additions will be possible without too much effort. One of the builders told me I'll probably need to develop a little routine of sweeping it off and watering it before riding it each day. Hopefully the berms will hold up over time.

    Poison ivy at the edges: LOL. There's already a fence, a house, concrete stairs, and numerous rakes and shovels littering the edges, so a certain level of skill is already called for! Of the 5 people who have ridden it, 4 of them have crashed so far.

    Plate compactor: Interesting concept about how it is supposed to just travel along by itself. It seemed more like it wanted to travel DOWNWARD if it wasn't pulled along! Like it would dig itself a hole to China if left unattended! Regardless, it saved a ton of work.

    Launch ramp: I wish we had room! But we really don't. It's OK though, once you get going you're good. I'll just think of the lack of a lanch ramp as a skill builder.

    Still to come: a little bit more shaping work -- the berms could be taller, or at least extended along the edges so you can maintain a high line all the way through. And some of the rollers would be better if they were more like a sine wave. The guys are back for a few hours today, then maybe another half day next week. Then eventually we have to figure out what to do about landscaping, which will be a whole other project of sorts. I'll post more pics as it gets finished.
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  45. #45
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    For trails you will use road mix as it bonds together via clays and such better and will of course stay compact for far longer than regular dirt. For water grade your slope (left to right or what have you) at least 1 percent to allow water to run off.

  46. #46
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    doublt post

  47. #47
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    What does this road mix consist of? I'm guessing my mix is 50/50 clay/sand or 60/40 clay/sand, screened to 1/4" minus. How does this compare to road mix?
    "Careful. We don't want to learn from this." -- Calvin & Hobbes

  48. #48
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    Very cool
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  49. #49
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    I'm jelly.
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  50. #50
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    road mix has some 3/4 or less in it.

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