How to build a DH track

Plow King

Little bit.
Seeing as there are alot of questions about how to make downhill tracks, I figured I should give some advice to up and comers thinking of going and building a track.

Before even starting work on the trail you should.

1/ DO NOT make the track obvious as to where it is.

I've seen people just clear out the entrance to the trail on the side of a fire road or main street. That is stupid, you might as well just put up a sign saying here is a trail, come use, destroy or close it. Bush bash into the trail, where the trail head starts (make sure you dont step on any plants or vegatation) Take multiple lines into the trail every time, and if it looks like a trail is starting to appear cover the trail with leaves and put fallen over trees and dead fallen over plants in the way.

2/ Scout your local area, look for the steepest part. Find a really rocky area to start with (doesn't have to be ridable) Once you have found that then try and make the track on or around that area.

3/ Do not make it near peoples homes. this will piss people off because they will have bike riders screaming down near there neighbourhood. This will piss people of and almost certainly get the track found and shut down.

4/ Do not tell people where your trail is, this is fairly obvious. Only tell your close riding buddies/ friends. You don't want lots of little shits coming to your trail, building new lines, making loads of noise and destroying stuff. Word gets around, these kids could tell there parents, who could tell other people, which could also get the track closed down. Make sure you explain thoroughly to your close friends not to tell anyone about the trail.

5/ Do not cut down trees, Don't friggin do it, simple as that!

6/ Try not to use north shore obstacles, use them only where necessary. And if you do use them DO NOT nail them into trees, lay them on rocks or dig the wood into the ground.

6/ Do not leave rubbish lying on the track, take it with you. This does not give the sport of mountain biking a good look if the track does get found. If the track is bombarded by rubbish I can assure you the track won't have a chance of survival. If people have found the track and have left rubbish there, take it with you and dump it in a bin. however, if it is biodegradable make a pit and chuck it in there ,and with other dead trees. you can make a compost heap and put it on other trees or plants.


Starting the track.

1/ Mark out where you want the track with some string. Do Not make indents in trees/ or cut bark off, this can consequently kill the tree if you accidentally ring bark it)

2. Begin clearing out the track, top to bottom. Do not take out plants, only weeds. If it is necessary to take out plants replant them somewhere else. As for the width of the track, Try to keep most of it single track. The only sections that should be wide are the technical sections, i,e rock gardens.

3/ Always, always make b lines around the harder obstacles. If kids do find the tracks, and they cant do it. They will more than likely knock it down because it is too hard for them to do. But if you have a b-line they will hopefully enjoy the track because they are able to hit it, and will want it too stay there so they can enjoy it for years to come.

4/ Decide what you exactly want to be on the track, jumps, rock gardens drops... Plan exactly where you want them, how big, and check for things like run-up, run out and any other obsticles around that could cause a threat. I,e cliffs.Find a spot where they would be easiest to build and have the least effect on the environment.

5/ When building drops and jumps try to use what you can find, Don't go digging mass piles of dirt, see what else you can find. digging hug holes of dirt is not going to help the local ecosystem. try using rocks that are packed together to form a lip or landing. find some rocks (size, depends on how many) Put the main ones at the bottom and then you cant start to form the shape of the jump landing with the rocks, use the flat rocks on the top (where your riding onto or off)


6/ When building rock gardens, make sure these have several lines, that range from exceeding your ability to way below your ability. Make sure that the easier lines are slower. (same reason as mentioned before, if randoms come to your track who suck and cant do it they will want to destroy it) When you start building look for a rocky part on the hill. If there arn't many rocks on one part of the track you have to bring them in. dig them into the ground. Rock gardens do not contain, or should not contain loose rocks, they are extremly dangerous. (note, when moving rocks if there are creatures under them put the rock back ,and be careful of dangerous animals, i.e spiders.)


7/ the only place on the track where you should use alot of dirt should be on the berms. the berms should be made with fallen down trees and rocks heavily packed together. The angle and height of the berm depends on where it is placed. Basically the faster the corner the longer and less curved it should be, whereas a slow corner usually has a not as long berm and more curved. Most berms should be about 50cm high and packed down heavily.

8/ end of trail. the end of the trail should connect to a fireroad of some description. If this is not possible make sure when you walk back upto the top of trail on the trail. So that you dont trample of damage any more vegetation. If your trail does come out at the end of a firetrail make sure that you bush bash onto the fireroad. (don't tread on any plants, trees vegetation)

scratchy said:
When the gradient is steep rock armouring the trail doubles as techincal for the rider (rock garden) and protecting the track from rutting out.

Rocks should be used in areas succeptable to erosion. Make sure water never travels down the track, water is ultimately what erodes the track so things like mild scalops (a couple of digs so the track slopes off to one side for a metre or so, you don't notice it when you ride, but it allows water to drain off.)

You need to pay special attention to berms, can they drain water easily or will they catch water?

Also gradient reversals should be used whenever possible, it creates more of a flow feeling (up and down, pumping- flowing), it stops riders jamming on brakes and rutting up the track and allows riders to regain some height, hence keeping the run as long as possible. A good gradient reversal on a DH track will skim off a bit of speed, but the rider doesn't have to pedal.

Very easy things to overlook when building but 12 months later, it makes a huge difference.
Thanksyou scratchy for the extra stuff. Very usefull. Cheers
 
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Skywalker

Likes Dirt
2/ Scout your local area, look for the steepest part. Find a really rocky area to start with (doesn't have to be ridable) Once you have found that then try and make the track on or around that area.
Make sure you scout the area properly. Don't just start cutting a track thinking it will go somewhere. Because in reality.. it probably won't. You have to plan your track well. Walk the whole terrain and imagine how fast you'll be going, then plan the lines. Cut and have fun! :D

PS Good work there norcs! Sticky it please... every point is very relevant in starting your own trail.
 
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Mattydv

Likes Bikes and Dirt
thanks for the tips. it'll make some of my own trails alot better and last alot longer hopefully :)
 

Renegade

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Nice work as always Chris. Just in time aswell as I'm planning on making my own freeride track. Thanx heaps and ride hard you pansy:p
 

scratchy

Farkin Activist
OK, Stickied, I might deleted some posts just to shorten the gaps between the info.

One thing that wasn't mentioned was erosion.

Berms are great and all, but if there is massive braking ruts beforehand then that's not cool.

When the gradient is steep rock armouring the trail doubles as techincal for the rider (rock garden) and protecting the track from rutting out.

Rocks should be used in areas succeptable to erosion. Make sure water never travels down the track, water is ultimately what erodes the track so things like mild scalops (a couple of digs so the track slopes off to one side for a metre or so, you don't notice it when you ride, but it allows water to drain off.)

You need to pay special attention to berms, can they drain water easily or will they catch water?

Also gradient reversals should be used whenever possible, it creates more of a flow feeling (up and down, pumping- flowing), it stops riders jamming on brakes and rutting up the track and allows riders to regain some height, hence keeping the run as long as possible. A good gradient reversal on a DH track will skim off a bit of speed, but the rider doesn't have to pedal.

Very easy things to overlook when building but 12 months later, it makes a huge difference.
 

Jarrad

Likes Dirt
downhill track

hay guys do you have any sugestions for a site that is not so steep any feedback would be great
 
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Gravjunkie

Likes Dirt
Another tip.........We are all keen riders and when we scope an area to build a track, we get so psyched to ride it. Take your time and build it right the first time. You'll appreciate your first run a lot more and maintenance on the track will be so much easier in the future.

Unfortunately tho'.....no matter how much advice you give, some people can build tracks, the rest....well.....you just ride what those people have built. :)
 

Switch

Likes Dirt
For all those people who own their own pine forest, as it would be wrong to use the hundreds of acres of corporately owned forest :rolleyes: . They are great places to build DH tracks as they have next to no undergrowth so a couple of hours with a rake and you can be on your bike, add to that the extensive networks of fire trails to get you back to the top with ease and discretion and you are on a winner.
 
Using quickset concrete to cap the up ramps of jumps is a good idea imo as it prevents erosion and makes for a good strong ramp that is harder to destroy. Just make sure you build the rest of the ramp well too. Also make sure you don't leave any spare concrete lying around, try and use it somewhere else. Pallets are also good for landings because they are strong and wide but using natural landings is preferable. The idea, as said before, is to create a minimal impact trail.

Top tips above, anyone who wants to start a trail should take note of this stuff.
 

Timbot

Likes Dirt
OK, Stickied, I might deleted some posts just to shorten the gaps between the info.

One thing that wasn't mentioned was erosion.

Berms are great and all, but if there is massive braking ruts beforehand then that's not cool.

When the gradient is steep rock armouring the trail doubles as techincal for the rider (rock garden) and protecting the track from rutting out.

Rocks should be used in areas succeptable to erosion. Make sure water never travels down the track, water is ultimately what erodes the track so things like mild scalops (a couple of digs so the track slopes off to one side for a metre or so, you don't notice it when you ride, but it allows water to drain off.)

You need to pay special attention to berms, can they drain water easily or will they catch water?

Also gradient reversals should be used whenever possible, it creates more of a flow feeling (up and down, pumping- flowing), it stops riders jamming on brakes and rutting up the track and allows riders to regain some height, hence keeping the run as long as possible. A good gradient reversal on a DH track will skim off a bit of speed, but the rider doesn't have to pedal.

Very easy things to overlook when building but 12 months later, it makes a huge difference.
Shouldn't building berms help alleviate braking bumps by allowing you to hit corners quicker with less brake?
 

scratchy

Farkin Activist
Yes, In an ideal world they do help as the allow people to hit the corner quicker. But what you'll find 99% of the time is that people have hit the brakes before the corner and rutted it up. Either the berm is too tight or the run in too fast, either way people are backing off before the corner. Perhaps that is where the art of trail building comes in.

Maybe a good idea is to have some gentle berms at the start to get people in the flow of the track, before chucking massive 180 degrees berms down.
 

demo man

Used to be cool.
The problems with berms are mainly about water drainage. The problem with corners in general is that they ask people to slow down, and that creates braking areas.

Try adding small uphill rises before corners to wash off some speed naturally (but no stop-starting please). Get water off the track as often as possible. When there is a jump or rise, make sure that you use that to your advantage... make sure the water that is going to get caught by the rise can get off the track. Jumps and rises can be used in the same way as water-bars on roads are used.

Build the whole trail so that is has a 5% outslop, meaning that the whole trail is off-camber by 5%. This will not really be noticable to the rider, but it will be to the water.

Berms are great, just get water off the track right before them and right after them, and don't allow pools to be created in the middle of them. too easy.

rock armouring is great. It's best use is in wet areas, and it can be good for steep areas also. This method takes lots of hard labour though - be prepared (crow-bars etc.)
 

donthucktoflat

Eats Squid
i have learnt two things about building trails with Glen Jacobs. these are that he knows exactly what he wants and that when using rocks use BIG FKN ROCKS. small rocks will vibrate the soil off them and you will get massive erosion. BIG ROCKS ROCK!
 

milto

Likes Dirt
Downhill

Thanks heaps mate,
I'm getting into DH/Freeride now i'll be able to practice without heaps of fuss and geting in the way of hard out riders.

Cheers,
Nick.
 

scissors

Likes Bikes
Thanks heaps for the advice, i'll put it to the test. I got a really steep hill which has no other use, cars can't get up it so i guess it's mine for the taking.
 

partyanimal

Likes Bikes
i've found that putting a piece of pvc pip a the lowest point in a berm helps to clear water from it really fast. At my track i was once riding in the rain (ok it was a storm) and everywhere down below was flooded but not tmy berms.

partyanimal
 

BLAKE-2234

Likes Bikes and Dirt
to sir plowness

hey mate im actually trying to build a dh track (that is already an unused walking track) at the bottom of my street and because you live in the shire quess what i do too so was wondering if i could get some help guys from bike culture (jon odams) is trying to find time to walk the trail and find out how much work is going to be needed to get it rideable as its pretty rocky and steep but i think its rideable ( i would ride it if i had a dh bike) but yer i thought i would just tell you this incase you wanted to help but i dont know
ps the track is down akuna avanue if you know where that is

cheers blake:) :)
 
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