Tag Archives: skills park

Developing construction skills for a skills park: a work in progress

I published a post yesterday to my local mtb club’s blog titled, CROCT’s Sechler Skills Park continues to evolve.

The skills park is my primary responsibility as one of CROCT’s many volunteer trail workers. My motivation to work on it?

  • Our in-town Sechler Park MTB Trail is a river bottoms trail and doesn’t have a lot of challenging terrain. So having a skills park in the middle of it is way for local riders to practice their skills and challenge themselves
  • It’s handy to have a local skills park for instructional clinics. Kids who live in town can ride their bikes to the park via the local network of paved trails
  • I’m always working on my own riding skills and being able to construct features that are appropriate for my own development is a treat

Last summer, my interest in learning to jump via Ryan Leech’s Jumping with Confidence online course (affiliate link) spurred me to learn how to build beginner and intermediate level table top jumps. I had the full-time use a tractor with a bucket, free street reclamation dirt from the City of Northfield, a budget from CROCT to have it hauled in, and labor from other trail worker volunteers to help me shape, learn, test, and rebuild the jumps until we got them ‘good enough.’

By the end of the season, I’d gotten to where I could consider myself solid at beginner-level tabletops. Here’s a 1-minute video clip of me riding the 7 jumps that we built:

And the jumps proved to be a hit with kids and adventuresome adults, of course.

In addition to the 7 tabletop jumps (6 beginner-level, 1 intermediate-level), the skills park also now has:

  • 3 berms (1 large wood berm, 2 dirt berms)
  • 2 wood drops (1 beginner-level, 1 intermediate-level)
  • 2 large log piles
  • 1 line of 8 small rollers
  • 1 log skinny/logover obstacle, configured for several levels of difficulty
  • 2 railroad ties configured for uphill steps
  • 1 large boulder
  • Several skinnies (intermediate-expert) with changing configurations

We’ll be adding more features to the skills park this year.

My summer as an MTB skills park dirt boss and heavy equipment operator

This past summer, fellow mountain biker and uber volunteer Bill Nelson used his Ford Tractor to help CROCT, our local mountain bike club, fashion various obstacles in our new skills park area along our Sechler Park mountain bike trail. I soon became his apprentice operator and it inspired me to take on the role of skills park ‘dirt boss’ for the trail. More details and skills park photos in this CROCT blog post.

Bill Nelson, Ford tractor Griff Wigley, Bill Nelson

Preview photos and video of the Lebanon Hills skills park, opening Friday, Aug. 10, 3 pm

The entire Lebanon Hills MTB Park will be closed most of the day on Friday August 10 until 3 PM as the Leb Dirt Bosses and Dakota County Parks staff prep for the opening of the new trailhead and skills/terrain park.  The current parking lot will be closed and the new one (paved) opened for the first time. Access to all the trails at Leb will then be behind the new trailhead building.

South/adjacent to the trailhead building is the new skills/terrain park.  I got a chance to pre-ride it a bit on Monday with the guy who constructed it, Tim Wegner, owner of Trail Source.  (Last fall, I blogged about Tim and his contributions to mountain biking, as did Chance Glasford in his blog.) Dave Tait, one of the Leb Dirt Bosses, joined us for the photo/video shoot.

Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park DSC02373 copy Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park DSC02381 copy Tim Wegner, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park
Above: Dave and Tim riding some of the separate beginner and intermediate level skinnies, rock sections, and logs.

 

Tim Wegner, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Griff Wigley, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park
All of the advanced rock sections have multiple lines. The series of photos above shows Tim (left) riding an intermediate line down the one side of the rock pile, Dave (center) riding an advanced line down the middle of the same pile, and me (right) riding up the pile.

 

Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park
Riding down these three rocks (above) is challenging because of the gaps between them. Weight back, wheelie, unweight, repeat. Dave made it look easy. Ride up the rocks for a bit less of a challenge.

 

Griff Wigley, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Griff Wigley, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Griff Wigley, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park
The same rocks (above) can be criss-crossed in a variety of ways, intermediate-to-advanced. I predict they’ll be popular with intermediate level riders looking to advance their skills as the rocks 1) have round edges and 2) are surrounded by strategically-placed wood chips to soften the, um, unplanned landings.

 

Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park
This rock section (above) is considerably more difficult when ridden this direction because of the slight downward approach to the extremely narrow skinny of rocks in the middle. Dave was able to clean it a couple of times. The video (see below) of him riding it the other direction (easier) also shows the right-turn, then left-turn narrow wooden skinny approaching the rocks section.

 

Griff Wigley, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Griff Wigley, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Griff Wigley, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Griff Wigley, crashing at Lebanon Hills MTB skills park
Two other tough obstacles: 1) the skinny made of uneven upright logs (left photo above) has a couple of slight bends in it; and 2) the large round bolder in the middle of the field can be tackled from all directions, not all of them successfully (right photo) I discovered.

 

Tim Wegner, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Tim Wegner, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park
There are two connected bermed turns in the NW corner of the park. Beginners can take them slow but there’s room to get a good run at them if you want to go fast.

Tim Wegner, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park Tim Wegner, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park
The south end of the park has three lines of rollers and jumps. Tim shows that you can have fun just riding down the them  at various speeds; riders can pump and manual over them, too, of course.  The back two runs end with two large berms.

Dave Tait, Lebanon Hills MTB skills park DSC02493 DSC02494 DSC02495

DSC02497 DSC02500 DSC02501 DSC02502
Dave shows (photos above in the 50-second video below) that you have fun jumping there, too.

 

See a large slideshow of all the above photos.