I have gotten sick of riding around the trails here in town and there just being hardly any technical trail features on them.I have decided to build a drop on a private trail (Public trail on private property) with the permission of the trailbuilder and so far it has been an interesting process that I figured I would share.
Step 1. Finding a location.
This part was the one I thought would be easy but as it turns out,I’m either really picky or just lazy… honestly both,haha.There were several spots on the trail I had pictured it but once you start to think about getting materials to the drop site,that helps influence the location.I chose a location very close to the beginning of the trail near the parking lot because of ease of material transport as well as the terrain.Since I wanted to build a ledge style drop,I looked for a somewhat natural ledge to build on to that would have a nice smooth transition to land on.
Step 2. Cutting the trail.
Depending on where you build a drop,you may have to cut a few things,I had to cut a whole new trail.I didn’t want to build it on any existing line so as to not catch anyone off guard and mess up the trail flow that people are used to so I made my own line.At this point,I had help from a felIow rider so it only took 2 hours or so to cut a ride-able trail. I started at the landing transition and worked my way up the hill weaving the trail through the trees after a straight line leading to the drop.Depending on the size of the drop and the rest of the trail,you may want to make it slightly difficult to get to the drop to keep lesser skilled riders from accidentally finding it and flying off the end.After I got enough trail cut for the lead in,I started curving back over to the existing trail to connect it.I had planned on not cutting the trail entrance until the drop was built but I decided it would be better to have people "ride it in" and pack the trail down first.After the trail was cut,I had to connect the landing back to the trail as well to complete the loop.
Step 3. Ride it in!
This part should be a lot of fun! Tell all your friends to go ride the new trail you cut since they didn’t help clear it,haha.Make sure the trail flows nicely and there is not much distracting you from the drop ahead.Modify and groom as needed.
Step 4. Test Drop. (optional)
This is not really necessary,but will ensure that you have the location right and the drop feels smooth.I was unsure of how high to build it so I made a small 1 foot drop with some scrap wood and it took 3 times before I got the feel right to just float off the end.Now that I know roughly where I land,I know where I need to back the lip up to,as well as roughly how high and long to make it.
Step 5. Purchasing Lumber/Planning.
You may not need to purchase wood if you have it donated or laying around,but you may still need to cut it at a site other than the build site so you need to know what to cut and how many.For this bridge,I am purchasing all the pressure treated lumber,bringing it home and cutting it,then transporting it to the trail and assembling it there.Take a tape measure out to the site to get some numbers and sketch up the bridge.This should get you close enough to buy the wood without buying too little or too much,as well as tell you exactly what to cut.At this time,plan warning and difficulty signage.
*Don’t be one of those ugly or hazardous bridge builders,build it strong or don’t build it at all.Cut the riding surface boards as evenly as possible so it looks good and doesn’t gore someone if the need to go off the side. 😎
Step 6. Cut/Transport/Build.
However you do this,get friends to help! I’ll cut the wood here,mark it,take it to the trail in the car,then hike it from the car to the build site.Depending on how far you have to go to get to the build site,you may have to get creative and backpack it and ride it in to the site.Block the trail with the lumber so riders take notice during construction.Build it!!! Have someone put up the warning signs at this time before you get excited and forget. 😃
Step 7. Happy Freefall!!! Break out the cameras and helmets and decide who’s going first!!! Take lots of pictures and share them on Singletracks!