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  1. #1
    Delirious Tuck
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    Skills Park and Pump Track... Standard Features?

    I'm trying to get a local Skills Park and Pump Track developed and am in the brain storming phase.

    I have searched and read up on things/previous threads. Good info but not as focused as I have in mind for this discussion.

    Background: Town/City has built an amazing skatepark and has had guidance from US Nat'l Parks Service for a Skills Park/Area in a local park. Would like to take these concepts/momentum to develop an underutilized area as an MTB Skills park.

    Beginner/Intermediate Focus
    Pump Track
    Log Over skills
    Rock Garden Skills
    Possibly Drops

    I like Idea of a short 1/4 or 1/2 mile loop integration the beginner end of these features

    Goal is to provide a place for folks to get comfortable on an MTB and experienced riders a place to play on a pump track. We really don't have much "beginner" trail in CT, the Wisconsin Glacier blessed us with such rocky and rooty trail its tough for beginners to gain confidence... i.e. we get a bunch of one ride and done riders.

    This would be a huge tool to promote skills and responsible use.

    -What would you include in such a park and how would you lay it out?
    -How would you drum up community engagement and interest?

  2. #2
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    * 3 trail loop. corresponding with beginner, intermediate, advanced,

    * EACH loop has log-over, drops, rocks, rollers berms and jumps . . . except that the difficulty and speed of each of those is scaled accordingly.

    If you lived in my city, I could design/build it for you. But since I haven't quit my day job (yet), I can't come out there....

    Skills Park Build: Best approach?

    Help wanted: Selling a community on the idea of a bike park

  3. #3
    Delirious Tuck
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    Gracias!

    I read through those threads and some of the older before posting, there was one last year or the year before that had some great detail too it but didn't turn up... think maybe skookum was behind the thread... In any case.

    If you had only one trail, a pump track, and a skills area due to size constraints how would you do it? stack the pump track and skills area inside the trail loop or actually try and figure out how the integrate trail and skills area? I'm guessing we will have ~1-2 acres to build the "skills/track" area and room for 1/4 mile.

    Or are you saying stack 3 distinct loops that are pump and skill?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefriar View Post
    Gracias!

    I read through those threads and some of the older before posting, there was one last year or the year before that had some great detail too it but didn't turn up... think maybe skookum was behind the thread... In any case.

    If you had only one trail, a pump track, and a skills area due to size constraints how would you do it? stack the pump track and skills area inside the trail loop or actually try and figure out how the integrate trail and skills area? I'm guessing we will have ~1-2 acres to build the "skills/track" area and room for 1/4 mile.

    Or are you saying stack 3 distinct loops that are pump and skill?
    It would take more design-knowledge and riding experience, but yes, blending the pump and skill into different loops.

    BMX has been blending riding features for a long time, as has mtb. As I've said before, I just really dislike these skills parks where each "skill" is isolated. Drops over here, pump over here, jump over there.... It's just goofy and will get boring really fast. This type of skills park was seen as an addition to a cross-country trails spot, a sort of amenity at a trail head.

    However, a true bike park is a destination in itself. You cannot just do this little playground approach (swings over there, sandbox over here...) and make it cool and interesting.

    I'm semi-joking, but really though... check the 1986 RAD movie bmx race scene: Rad "Hell Track" - YouTube

    compare with the recent Texas Toast Jam. Note how the dirt course also has wood ramps in it AND a quarter pipe...
    TEXAS TOAST JAM – QUALIFYING AND GAUNTLET OF DEATH VIDEO – Dig BMX Magazine

    But it IS the type of thing you'd see at Ray's.. EVERYONE needs to visit Ray's if they are at all involved in building a bike park.

    Watch how there are different "trails" loops with different features.
    Ray's MTB Park - "Odd Couple" Contest : Taj Mihelich & Jeff Lenosky - YouTube


    EDIT: Hey by the way, one of the things I've learned over the past seven years of switching to mtb and riding with xc riders who don't have the bmx background that I have is how to design for people who really are beginners. If really-well thought out, you can make an extremely cool and interesting course that is also very beginner friendly. It's most about angles of take-offs and speed calibration. Just today I was riding with a top XC racer . . . he was learning drop-offs and bunnyhops up things. Things that I've been doing since I was 13, but I think hard about that kind of thing when I design. "Design" means designing for all the people who are going to ride a spot, not for you and 5 of your friends. Also, I was never a competition-level skatepark rider or dirt jumper... I was basically your average intermediate bmx rider who'd grown up with it. I actually only competed in flatland.... Too many times, BMX parks and skateparks get designed by pros, for pros. I don't believe in that philosophy for public parks. You design for the middle, then have some areas for beginners and extra things for pros. The reason you shouldn't design mostly for beginners is that beginners can actually become intermediate-level riders really fast. Those intermediate riders will be the glue that holds the spot together. Casual beginner riders are never going to take care of a spot and love it and make it thrive.
    Last edited by cmc4130; 01-18-2013 at 06:17 PM.

  5. #5
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    More than trails, bike park are getting more pushed/developed by professional because of the risk management, integration, progression, insurance requirements, level of commitment needed, equipment required for the build, community involvement, documentations and technical plans that are getting required. Most newer projects are in the 100,000 to 250,000 just for the initial phase... Some PTBA members are specialized in bike park, such as Alpine Bike Park, IMBA Trails Solutions, Progressive Trails Design, ETD, Hilride and myself. Hiring a pro to at least design the park will help you have a better product in the end.

    As for the topic title, yes, there are standards features and Alpine Bike Park launched a product line called Flow Form which are awesome! ;-)

    (PS, I don't work in the States).
    A trailbuilder from the north

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    helḷ boys,i,am faina(marco)from italy,

  7. #7
    Delirious Tuck
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    I think maybe a Bike Park is a bit much for what we're trying to accomplish, i5 Colonnade and Boulder are huge in relation to what we're looking at in concept.

    So I guess to really really stretch this definition: Looking to build a pump track with an adjacent trail featuring a set of natural material technical trail features of progressive difficulty that is short enough that people can do laps to practice TTF skills... and call it a Mountain Bike Skills Area/Park at the end of the day.

    From the Town perspective, they have the perfect option of 4 acres up to 17 available for our potential use, and already have one of the better Skate Parks in the North East. I'm assuming that since they have a concrete, engineered skate park that the MTB skills area insurance/liability management/mitigation/cost shouldn't scare them off.

    Our group has built trail soup to nuts, hosted bike fests, fought to keep parks open to MTB... how hard could building a pump track, skills trail (CMC I love the idea of trail vs. "clumps of features), and maybe a skinny course? Are we being naive?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefriar View Post
    . . .
    Our group has built trail soup to nuts, hosted bike fests, fought to keep parks open to MTB... how hard could building a pump track, skills trail (CMC I love the idea of trail vs. "clumps of features), and maybe a skinny course? Are we being naive?
    Are we being naive... Good question. Complicated answer! There are a lot of things that volunteers are great at "helping" on. But, there has to be a leader who approaches it as an architect/designer/craftsman/builder would.

    Now, can "anyone" be that leader? Yeah, sort of. In the same way that any of us could master various crafts.... we could build a beautiful cabinet, handmake a bicycle frame, or rebuild a vintage motorcycle. But most people simply don't do those things. Or if they try them they leave them unfinished. Or the result is half-assed, and never gets improved or maintained. Then again, some people do just get super into and obsessive about a hobby and actually do really well, even though they started from scratch--they become self-taught experts. Ya know ?!

    I think for typical xc riders who don't have bmx background, pump tracks are not at all intuitive. Typical xc riders also don't seem to have the motivation to build a pump track start to finish. They think it's a neat idea, but they don't seem to develop the obsessive desire to make the finished product awesome. In the same way that a non-mountain-biker, say a generic Parks official, thinks a 4 foot wide crushed granite sidewalk is a great trail. They are not clue-ing in to the details. However, just having guys from the DJ or BMX scene is not good enough either. Even experienced bmx/DJ riders are not necessarily good designers/builders. I have seen many lines built and abandoned because they just didn't work right. Pump tracks are weird in that they can look good on paper and in person, but then you ride one and you're like ewwww, something is not working.... Many people have difficulty trouble-shooting the track. Even experienced pump track riders can disagree how to 'fix' a failed track.

    So, to answer your question. If your club has someone who seems to have the drive and vision to lead the pump track / skills park effort, then sure, your club can do it relatively cheaply, and you don't need to hire anyone to do it. However, many riders/clubs talk about it for years, and it just doesn't happen. So, that's one reason to bring in pros. (And, if you do, make sure they are pros who are actually pump track experts and not just singletrack builders who also know how to run a bobcat--I have seen some pretty weak "pro" work).

    My suggestion is rather than a pump track at first... just go build some berms on some of your existing xc trails. Add some wood features too. See if that gets your club's blood pumping and brain churning. After all, riding through the woods and hitting interesting/fun things is what it's all about.

  9. #9
    Delirious Tuck
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    the more I think about it a "Skills Loop" idea you had is great.

    I'm imagining a trail that has the progressive features built in (a series of 3 progressively larger log overs with a solid gap between each as part of a flowy trail that then has 3 progressively larger drops shortly after each other, and then a stepped rock garden that starts w/small rocks and builds up in size over 50 ft (10ft small guys, 20ft med, 30 ft all-sorts + biggies) and they are part of a small loop and EVERYTHING has a smooth go around... Make it small enough that doing lops to come back for progress wouldn't be too tough.

    ... then have a pump track at the start or in the middle of the loop with a couple adjacent log rides of different heights and direction changes (ideally linked - we're big on skinnies here) and I think that'd be an ideal.

    hmmm I like that

    On the build skills front, we have a couple folks on the crew that help build at Highland Mountain Bike Park from time to time so we can go deep on TTFs and berms.

    I think the challenge will be our locals with backyard DJs/Pumptracks building in an acre or more of space and for beginners is where there challenge may lie. How hard is it to go from building a backyard size DJ or Pump Track to the "open" format?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefriar View Post
    the more I think about it a "Skills Loop" idea you had is great.

    I'm imagining a trail that has the progressive features built in (a series of 3 progressively larger log overs with a solid gap between each as part of a flowy trail that then has 3 progressively larger drops shortly after each other, and then a stepped rock garden that starts w/small rocks and builds up in size over 50 ft (10ft small guys, 20ft med, 30 ft all-sorts + biggies) and they are part of a small loop and EVERYTHING has a smooth go around... Make it small enough that doing lops to come back for progress wouldn't be too tough.

    ... then have a pump track at the start or in the middle of the loop with a couple adjacent log rides of different heights and direction changes (ideally linked - we're big on skinnies here) and I think that'd be an ideal.

    hmmm I like that

    On the build skills front, we have a couple folks on the crew that help build at Highland Mountain Bike Park from time to time so we can go deep on TTFs and berms.

    I think the challenge will be our locals with backyard DJs/Pumptracks building in an acre or more of space and for beginners is where there challenge may lie. How hard is it to go from building a backyard size DJ or Pump Track to the "open" format?
    I don't think it's hard.... think "pump trail" rather than "pump track." You are adding pump features (berms and rollers, and maybe tables and rollable double) to trails. If you come back around to where you started, you have a pump loop....

    I like your progressive loops idea--definitely what I'm talking about . . .

    Check out this Transition Bike video:Lars Shreds the Double On Unemployment Line on Vimeo and this one of Duthie Hill: Duthie Hill on Vimeo

    Note how rollers sections are built into the flow of the trail. Note how the berm corners are pumpable, when they have a shorter 7, 8, or 9 foot radius. Note at Duthie how there are drops and log rides and all kinds of things incorporated into these flow trails.... This is where mtb is at right now.

  11. #11
    Delirious Tuck
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    That Transition Vid makes me giddy.

    Some candy from PinkBike:
    Bike Parks and Trails That Shaped Our 2012 - Pinkbike

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefriar View Post
    No, but that transitioned-face bowl corner style of wood berm they are doing on the pump tracks are a great idea. When the face is transitioned like that, it means that the rider chooses their angle of tilt depending on speed. It is better than flat-bank/ribbon style berms for this reason.




    The first berms I saw like this were on a Facebook post a few months back. I posted it in the "Wooden Pump Track" thread I started on pinkbike, here:

    Wooden Pump Tracks . . . . - Page 3 - Pinkbike Forum



    These guys in Switzerland used concrete.... Although I'm not sure I agree with that concept... If you're going to get into concrete... why not start designing a true concrete bike park in a skatepark style ... you can still have the rollers and berms but you can also do a LOT more as well. Plus, you can't change concrete. You better have the geometry exaaaaaactly right... cuz there's no tweaking !
    Concrete Pumptrack in Switzerland

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