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Thread: Backyard Trails

  1. #1
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    Backyard Trails

    Hey.

    Been getting fairly serious about biking this summer. I've got a very small patch of woods behind my house and i've been slowly putting together trails through it. I've been looking for inspiration and advice on what obstacles to add.

    Mainly, i like to be able to get in a ride after work on weekdays, so having something in the back yard to run a bunch of laps on is nice. But I'd also like to improve my skills so i want to add some tech stuff.

    I built a small log-ride-bridge thing. It was a disaster. I recently rebuilt it and it came out a bit better.

    I tried to put together a banked turn but that didn't work out too well. Needs to be higher.

    Anyone have any suggestions or links to obstacles that are easy to build and take up minimal space? I have a chainsaw, hand tools and a bad back so i've got to keep the projects pretty small. I would also much prefer to maintain a pretty natural look, so anything made from logs, rocks, dirt, etc... would be great.

    Thanks a lot

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    how about a rock garden? i made one in my old backyard trails. took about 3 hours to set up about 20 feet worth of extremely rough rocky terrain. just make sure to dig them into the ground a bit and cover them with additional dirt so they settle nicely over time and dont just roll around. extra points for putting them on a slope so you can work on your technical climbing and descending, or in an area with camber to work on your balance.

    not the most back-friendly project, though, so find a friend to help.

  3. #3
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    Check out the IMBA website. They know a little bit on how to construct trails.

    Happy Trails.
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

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    Rock garden is probably a good project s4 (is that an audi reference?). I had a ton of good sized rocks in my woods, but i used most of them up. I had to cut a path into the side of a steep ridge to enable me to bike out of the woods back up to the house without having to dismount. I dug out a trench, but fearing it would erode immediately, i gathered up all the good sized rocks i could find and embedded them. Most of the rocks remaining in the woods are either too small to be useful or too big to move so i might have a challenge on my hands. Pic of work-in-progress from a while ago.

    I've got a TON of logs stacked up doing nothing. How would a 'log garden' work out?

    I'm so aggrivated... my back is an absolute mess after working on my log bridge last weekend. Hoping it recovers enough to get some riding in this weekend


    Thanks for the reference Bouler Pilot. I just checked out the site. Looks like they offer a trail-building book for sale. I'll consider it:

    Trail Building and Design | International Mountain Bicycling Association


    thanks
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Backyard Trails-stonepath.jpg  


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    Looks good, but I would recommend blending your back cut just a bit more. Probably a minor detail here, especially with a rock tread, but you don't want water waterfalling down onto your tread surface.
    edited picture link

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    Thanks for the tip and marked up image. I'll look into it.

    I'm due to run a little maintence on that rock path anyway. A few rocks shifted a lot over time and at the top of the path i got lazy... the transition from dirt to rock isn't as smooth as it should be. I need to continue the path another few feet to improve the flow.

    Couple of pics of my little log bridge. Nothing special but it's a great learning obstacle cuz my balance is pretty poor. I rushed it a bit so it's not as well built as it could be. To improve stability i bored ~1" holes through the tread logs into the support logs and pounded in thin branches as pegs. That helped hold things together a bit. If a pro was building this sort of obstacle, how are things held together? Lag bolts? Railroad spikes? I'm a fan of going 100% natural, but admittedly, the wood pegs will be of questionable longevity.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Backyard Trails-logbridge_1.jpg  

    Backyard Trails-logbridge_2.jpg  


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    Professionals would probably use large nails (I think there's a name for them, but they're about 8" long), and larger logs, larger supports. For you though, this is probably fine. By the time it breaks down, you'll be ready to conquer something bigger.

  8. #8
    I build my own.
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    The 1/2" fir (not treated) pegs in this are over 10 years old and still just as tight as the day I put them in. I consider this method as an art form and I use the argument that when it rots, there's nothing man made left in the forest. This bridge is very far out in the bush. I had a log bridge almost exactly like the one you built and I used 8" spiral nails like you used your pegs. It's portable and I dragged it all over my backyard to change up my "skills park". It's been holding up well for 2 years. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of it.
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    robbiexor - larger logs proably would improve stability. there's a tree down on the edge of my property and i really want to snag it to build more obstacles but it's right along the property border and it fell onto my neighbor's side so i'm reluctant to claim it. i asked him if he minded if i 'cleaned it up' for him, but he was kind of wishy washy... i think he's afraid i'll cut my arm off on his property and sue him or something. oh well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    The 1/2" fir (not treated) pegs in this are over 10 years old and still just as tight as the day I put them in. I consider this method as an art form and I use the argument that when it rots, there's nothing man made left in the forest.
    yeah, that's what i'm going for. if i get sick of riding or have to move or whatever, i want to be able to just leave everything as-is and be content that it will do no harm and eventually just disappear.

    i'm furious over how much garbage finds its way into my woods. especially the insane, preposterous amount of glass there is burried everywhere. after every rainfall, i have to do glass patrol along my trails and find all the newly uncovered pieces.

    it seems in decades past people just threw all their old glass bottles and jars into whatever nearby woods were available. there was a very similar issue in the neighborhood where i grew up - the wooded lots near my house were full of glass - earned myself i nice gash in my hand when i was about 10 picking up a ball that happen to come to rest next to a piece of glass sticking out of the ground. still rocking the scar from that one.

    the dowel for the pegs seems like a good idea. i used a cordless drill + 4 batteries to get my ~1" holes drilled. i think the logs might be oak... whatever it is, it's tough to drill through. how is it working with that manual drill? a better bit probably would have served me well.

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    Trail Ninja - almost forgot - nice bridge pic. are those store-bought tred planks or sawn from logs?

    i'm a little bit into woodworking outside of trailbuilding and the prospect of buying a chainsaw-mill setup and sawing my own lumber is very appealing. too bad it cost a fortune and my saw probably couldn't handle it (Husquvarna Rancher 450 or something like that).

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    I have about 1 acre to work with, it has some nice features to work with and enough rocks to build 3 gardens. it does not have much of a slope so i am constructing some platforms and ramps that will go about 8 ft high. I just finished repairing my seesaw.

    bike seesaw

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    that's awesome. i hadn't even thought about trying to make a see-saw.

    i'm crammed into a tiny ~1/2 acre so it really restricts what i can do. i have a nice drop-in hill as pictured above and one pretty sweet giant rock in the ground that serves as sort of a drop. really looking to spice it up a bit with tech stuff.

    also looking to add banked turns so i can keep some speed through the tight turns i have to use to keep the trail within my property. i recently tried digging a curved trench, standing up some logs in a row along the trench, then backfilling to create a banked turn. i think i had the right idea but it has to be 2 or 3 times bigger for it to be effective. digging alone by hand makes it difficult though. any advice on that?

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    this isnt really much, but you may also want to try a couple narrow "bridges". keep them as low as you're comfortable with... even a few inches off the ground is enough. go as narrow as you think you'll be able to manage, and work in a couple slight bends. i had a nice one at my old house that was only about 1-2 feet off the ground at the highest point, but it was about 40 feet long and made of 4x4, so it was quite narrow (though you can use 2x6, 2x8, 2x10, etc, depending on how good your balance is). it had 3 alternating bends in it at about 15 degrees each, 10 feet apart. i dont think ive ever ridden an obstacle that did more for my balance. unfortunately i dont have any pictures, but it was as simple as you could possibly imagine... just a few 10-foot 4x4s end to end, supported by large logs at each joint.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    The 1/2" fir (not treated) pegs in this are over 10 years old and still just as tight as the day I put them in. I consider this method as an art form and I use the argument that when it rots, there's nothing man made left in the forest. This bridge is very far out in the bush. I had a log bridge almost exactly like the one you built and I used 8" spiral nails like you used your pegs. It's portable and I dragged it all over my backyard to change up my "skills park". It's been holding up well for 2 years. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of it.
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    I'd like to try this kind of attachment. Care to offer up any tricks and techniques for making these connections?

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    simple skinny over a low log PT 2x6 wood screwed into the log with undersupports. Simple and a confidence builder since it's low to the ground
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Backyard Trails-skinny-2.jpg  

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    @lopolyjoe, you want to have lots of time to kill if you're using hand tools like the brace & bit and a pocket knife for carving dowels. the advantage is weight, stealth & you never run out of fuel or batteries. the forstner bit I used on that project is a lot slower than an auger bit and there's no good reason not to use an auger bit. I carve the dowels tapered to wedge into the log below the plank. If the wood is all dry when you build, it will swell as soon as it gets wet and probably never competely dry out to the moisture level you built with. This keeps the pegs firmly wedged.

    The planks were rough sawn by a friend & they are only 3/4". normally I would use much thicker planks but that bridge was designed to frighten equestrians and moto-riders. It will only handle about 300 lbs. On Vancouver Island where this bridge is, we are fortunate to have red cedar lying around in the forest & lots of people including me split planks from red cedar logs.

    Saw mill: You don't need an Alaskan Mill. This little gadget works great.
    Beam Machine® - Lee Valley Tools


    Take your time cutting boards because you can strain your saw even with a rip chain. Give your Husky lots of rests & it will eventually do the job for you.
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    glad to see some good feedback. thanks guys.

    Trail Ninja - great link to the beam machine. maybe i'll give it a shot. i need to get a rip-chain as well.

    i was using auger bits to drill the holes for my pegs (bits of branches) but the bits are low quality and super dull so it took forever.

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    Trail Ninja- What hatchet is that in your picture?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    @lopolyjoe, you want to have lots of time to kill if you're using hand tools like the brace & bit and a pocket knife for carving dowels. the advantage is weight, stealth & you never run out of fuel or batteries. the forstner bit I used on that project is a lot slower than an auger bit and there's no good reason not to use an auger bit. I carve the dowels tapered to wedge into the log below the plank. If the wood is all dry when you build, it will swell as soon as it gets wet and probably never competely dry out to the moisture level you built with. This keeps the pegs firmly wedged.

    The planks were rough sawn by a friend & they are only 3/4". normally I would use much thicker planks but that bridge was designed to frighten equestrians and moto-riders. It will only handle about 300 lbs. On Vancouver Island where this bridge is, we are fortunate to have red cedar lying around in the forest & lots of people including me split planks from red cedar logs.

    Saw mill: You don't need an Alaskan Mill. This little gadget works great.
    Beam Machine® - Lee Valley Tools


    Take your time cutting boards because you can strain your saw even with a rip chain. Give your Husky lots of rests & it will eventually do the job for you.
    How does that thing work? Do you need a certain size saw?
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    Sorry guys, I'm in and out of the hospital getting cancer treatments (all together now... Awwww... OK that's enough.). Bear with me if I disappear every once in a while.

    @longms it's a Gerber Gator mini hatchet. the little knife fits in the handle. a very handy "survival" tool.
    Gerber Gator Combo Axe at REI.com
    Not perfect, but for $35 not a bad investment.

    The Beam Machine clamps on the saw blade and slides along a 2x4 you nail to your log. It will work just fine on any saw. The saw is working very hard so use a better quality saw and give it lots of rests. Sharpen your chain lots.


    A rip chain doesn't really help much. they tend to be expensive, wear out just as fast as a regular chain and don't cut noticeably faster in my opinion.
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    @Trail Ninja- thanks for the info. That thing looks sweet. I may have to pick up that one and the next size up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    Sorry guys, I'm in and out of the hospital getting cancer treatments (all together now... Awwww... OK that's enough.). Bear with me if I disappear every once in a while.

    @longms it's a Gerber Gator mini hatchet. the little knife fits in the handle. a very handy "survival" tool.
    Gerber Gator Combo Axe at REI.com
    Not perfect, but for $35 not a bad investment.

    The Beam Machine clamps on the saw blade and slides along a 2x4 you nail to your log. It will work just fine on any saw. The saw is working very hard so use a better quality saw and give it lots of rests. Sharpen your chain lots.


    A rip chain doesn't really help much. they tend to be expensive, wear out just as fast as a regular chain and don't cut noticeably faster in my opinion.
    thanks for the additional info. so it's still a lot of wear and tear on the saw. sounds like I'll stick to the "X" method for making log rides
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    Geez - sorry to hear it Trail Ninja. Wish you the best.

    I'm getting my back fixed up via meds and physical therapy so i'm hoping to do a little more work on my backyard trail in the coming month or so. Haven't ordered the Beam Machine yet because i don't have any serious lumber to play with at the moment. Hopefully we get a big storm and a few trees fall over Can't bring myself to cut any down for no good reason

    I read some different views about rip-chains online. Bunch of people say you can just grind your existing chain at a different angle and improve it's rip characteristics. Maybe i'll give that a shot.

    I have a hand-file set and dremell tool attachments for sharpening. I know harbor freight sells that benchtop chainsaw chain sharpener but i haven't tried it. Any advice on sharpening - i just been winging it and haven't had any problems yet but i do very limited work with the saw

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    Quote Originally Posted by lowpolyjoe View Post
    Geez - sorry to hear it Trail Ninja. Wish you the best.

    I'm getting my back fixed up via meds and physical therapy so i'm hoping to do a little more work on my backyard trail in the coming month or so. Haven't ordered the Beam Machine yet because i don't have any serious lumber to play with at the moment. Hopefully we get a big storm and a few trees fall over Can't bring myself to cut any down for no good reason

    I read some different views about rip-chains online. Bunch of people say you can just grind your existing chain at a different angle and improve it's rip characteristics. Maybe i'll give that a shot.

    I have a hand-file set and dremell tool attachments for sharpening. I know harbor freight sells that benchtop chainsaw chain sharpener but i haven't tried it. Any advice on sharpening - i just been winging it and haven't had any problems yet but i do very limited work with the saw
    I hardly ever use power tools. I just sharpen the chain at the angle it's already at, I don't even bother using a guide. I'm probably not the best person to ask.

    This is my tool kit.
    Backyard Trails-tools1.jpg
    I have a device that can access the total knowledge of man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and argue with strangers.

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    Hello, Im not trying to hijack your thread, it is just the closest thing to my topic. Im building some trails on my property which is flat farmland with some timber, and pretty boring. The forum wont let me post to ask questions as I havent posted! I havent had anything to say until know, so Im kind of lost. Cool looking obstacles BTW!
    Thanks,
    Lee

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