Dirt jumping is a form of sport where an individual rides his bike while jumping over dirt jumps or pile dirt. The idea of this sport is for the rider to take off, be airborne briefly and land successfully after that brief “fly”. Dirt jumping can also be accomplished using any wheeled vehicle but is normally done with a dirt jump bike. Beginners who want to learn how to jump their mountain bikes or any dirt jump bikes, need proper dirt jumps to practice on.
Why do I need my own dirt jump?
Going to a local skate park can be done but in some areas, a skateboarder, BMX riders, even mountain bike enthusiasts may not have a friendly existence when it comes to their recreational spot. If you rely on private skate parks to practice, it can become an expensive hobby later on.
Learning how to build dirt jumps on your own can be an ideal option if you have extra space on your property. Having your own can help you practice your techniques away from unwanted attention. If you have sufficient space, you will just need a couple of materials, the willingness to do some hard work, and you are all set to build your dirt jump. After materializing your plan, you can now think of how’s it gonna be on your next jump.
Building Dirt Jumps
First, let’s start off with location. This is crucial especially that you would need an area that is big enough to build dirt jumps. A good location will also determine if the trails you build will be good enough to use for practice.
If you’ve already learned how to build dirt jumps on your own, you will know that there are two main locations where you can build these. Both of these main places got their advantages and disadvantages. For example, you may think a field is a good spot to set those trail builders because there aren’t any trees on the way.
However, a field is an open area that gets easily dried out and crumbles. In addition, the wind can also stop you from executing that next jump while on a mountain bike ride. So, if you were to ask me, I prefer digging in the middle of the woods. There are enough trees to get protected from strong winds, and the heat of the sun. But, be cautious as the ground in the woods can be always wet.
Once you’ve already chosen the area, you can start to dig. You can also mark it by using chalk or paint. The type of jumps you want to perform using the trail should also be considered. If you are eyeing to perform a table-top jump, doubles, or a ski jump, then you will need a 30 feet area from start to finish.
The most important part to consider when choosing the location is the run-up. This should be downhill and measures around 80 ft. long. Then, you have to decide how many jumps you want to build.
The next important step is to gather the tools you need. Most tools in this project will be available in your garden shed. These tools being readily available can get the job done in no time:
- Gardening fork
- Gardening hoe
- 1-foot logs
- Garden hose with sprayer
- Garden gloves
- Own Dirt
You can also use logs or dead wood. These will provide a foundation for your jumps. Logs can also fill in the area instead of dirt or soil which can help cut costs. Dirt is necessary and you need a lot of it. You can calculate the amount of dirt needed using a soil calculator where you can multiply equations for the dimension of your jumps.
Start Clearing your Dirt Jump Site
You need a solid flat foundation to build your jumps. To do this, you have to clear the jump area of any debris and vegetation. Clearing the area can also be helpful if your dirt needs to be transported by wheelbarrow. A clear path to wheel dirt can hasten the process of building your jumps.
Build your Foundation
Logs can help anchor soil in place and will prevent jumps from sagging. Use them as your foundation by fitting them so they can stay together. You can use the available branches on the ground or saw branches off nearby trees on your property.
Use green wood that is not rooting to avoid problems with dead pieces that can cave in and will cause your jump to sink. Cut the outliers with a saw to the same sizes. You need enough logs for the center of each one that can be stacked up to about half its height. Stack the wood in a pile in the center of your planned jump to make it heavy-duty.
Having enough wood that can fill in half the volume of your dirt jump can make your jump stronger. If you are making a 2-foot jump, a foot or so of logs will suffice. Just make sure you lay the wood along the width.
Start Filling –in
This is the part where the tough work starts as you haul the dirt using a wheelbarrow and cover the stacked logs and the area around them. Make sure you have enough dirt filled up in the solid foundation of your jump. Do not worry about how the jumps look at this point, just make sure you have enough dirt hauled up in the area.
Pack the Dirt
You need a substantial amount of dirt to create a mound strong enough to withstand the daily grind of bicycle maneuvers and pounding. Start compressing the dirt using the back of your shovel into a rectangular shape. Add more dirt if needed to have a tightly compact jump. This step is important and should not be overlooked. Keep the soil in place by shoveling and packing down until you attain your desired height for the jump. A mound of 2 feet high by 5 feet wide can be shaped roughly into a rectangular cube and should be packed as tightly as possible to create a strong jump.
Form the Slopes
Using your shovel, shape the slopes of your launch and landing area. Keep compacting the dirt as you go by stomping your feet or patting the dirt with your hands. Shaping can be easier if the dirt is wet. If you are making a tabletop, a triangle with a flat top is the shape to make.
The side slopes determine the strength of the jumps. Shape and flatten the slopes with the base of your shovel. Give attention also to the transition and the landing. Mold one end of the mound to a longer and steeper incline than the others as this area will be your landing slope. You can make a 30 degrees incline or less for your landing slope.
Take-off slope can be made by creating 45 degrees or even gradual incline, especially for beginners. These two areas are important. A high clay content dirt can make the job easier as they contain the smallest particle that can be compacted easily and form a solid base.
Complete your Launch
Decide how long and high you want your take-off to be. Determine the distance of the gap between the two that determines the distance you’ll be jumping your bike. Locate the ideal flat area without plants, trash, and debris. Build your launch area and add a lip to your take-off slope to help you get airborne.
To get the curve right, you can use a shovel or the front wheel of your bike to create a pattern or curve. Do this while compacting and shaping your dirt into a take-off ramp. Make sure to pat down all the impressions created by tire ruts until the curved area is completely smooth. Repeat the process several times in parallel locations until you can create a take-off ramp that has several circular grooves.
Pack two piles down making sure your take-off ramp is as compact as possible. Ideally, the take-off ramp should be about 3 feet shorter than the landing ramp. The base of the landing ramp should be at least twice as wide and long as the take-off ramp.
Takeoff and landing ramps should be able to hold their shapes. Add more dirt and pile it on the areas that have come loose. Flatten the dirt once more, adding water to help retain its shape and let it sit for another 2 to 3 days before testing them again. After several setting days, walk up and down both ramps to check if they can hold their shape and try riding the area with your bike.
Wet the Area and Give it Some Time
Make sure to pack the dirt in the mound as tightly as possible. Wet the area gently using a hose with a sprayer attachment or use a nozzle top watering can. You can moisten the area which you do not want to wash the dirt off. This will cement the jumps to make them solid. Let the water sink in and repeat the process. If you are using soil with a lot of clay, the process of water draining will be longer. You will need to dampen the jumps several times.
Let it Set and Wait
Waiting for the dirt jump to be ready does not mean an hour or a day but several days. It’s going to take time for the soil to settle completely with the help of water and the sun. Waiting can be difficult as you are excited to test and try the jumps but your patience will be rewarded at least after four to five days. Your dirt jump will harden as time passes, rain can help strengthen it by soaking it completely and leaving nature to set it right.
Test Drive the Jumps
This will be the last step in your DIY project. Check on the condition of your dirt first before running a few test runs. Then, start checking on the soil condition. Check the texture and start looking if it can keep its shape. Also, check if it looks solid. Look for visible signs of crumbling. When it has, you need to repeat the process of wetting the area once more and let it set.
Get additional whacks of the shovel for good measure. The dirt should not slough off when you walk on them. Time and rain can help reinforce the shape of your jumps as well as the tracks created by your bike. Test your dirt jumps and enjoy the ride.
Different Types of Jumps
There are different types of jumps that you can perform after a few days of setting up your dirt jumps. You can practice at your convenient time without having to worry about when your turn will be compared to going to a public practice location. Now that you’re all set, let’s take a look at the different jumps that you can do once the soil is ready.
- Double -This is known as a gap jump where the rider can take off and land successfully.
- Tabletops – This is the type of jump where the rider has to take off at one end and land on the other end with a flat tabletop.
- Ski Jumps –This is where the rider takes off and land on a downhill slope.
- Rollers – Performed at the beginning of the trail and are similar to a tabletop.
- Step-ups – A step-up is performed when a rider jumps from an incline and lands on a raised platform.
- Whoops/Rhythms – This refers to the three small ramps close together where a rider has to jump over them.
- Spine – This type of jump is when a rider has to take off and land. There is no gap like the case of double and notable like the case of a tabletop jump.
- Berm – A type of jump performed on sharp turns
- Hip Jumps – This type of jump requires the rider to turn from45 degrees to 90 degrees while airborne. This can jump can be attained on the left or the right side of the ramp.
Advantage of Having your Dirt Jump
Learning how to build dirt jumps brings a lot of advantages to bike enthusiasts. Read some top picks I’ve listed below:
- Convenience is the major reason why people start building dirt jumps on their own. You can practice anytime you want with no worries about other people snaking in front of you. You will have hours of enjoyment right outside your home.
- You can practice at your skill level and create something that works for you right on your property. You don’t need to go on a mission to hone your skills. You can support your enthusiasm to launching a jump just outside your house, within your property. This is made possible when you have it at home.
- You can modify it according to your needs. You can modify your tabletop for example, and make it into a double or step up if you feel ready to level up your techniques.
- A well-made track can lessen the impacts of soil erosion and runoff. This can benefit the environment as well.
- Having your own can help you reap the benefits of exercise. This is because riding these courses can burn a lot of calories. It is the same thing as a full-body workout for your muscles at the same time doing something you love.
Another big advantage is that you are also helping the environment. Building your own jump can help lessen soil erosion impacts and runoff. You can also step up your game plan and set up barriers near steep areas and slopes located in your yard to further protect them.
Building a dirt jump in your vacant space is actually a great DIY project. If you know how to preserve it, then it will most likely last in the long run. Remember that a dirt jump does not anchor deep on the ground so you will have to constantly check if you can still use it. It is always wise to consider planning ahead and check on the soil conditions. Turning your space into a wicked track is not impossible. With the right tools, patience, and a lot of muscles put into work, you will get a great, rock ‘n roll riding experience!