MTB Skills Area – Must have features?

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  • MTB Skills Area – Must have features?
  • fr0sty125
    Member

    What do people think makes for a good mountain bike skills area? I’m looking for examples, pictures and suggestions for must have essentials for a purpose built skills area that will be constructed by professional contractors.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    drop offs with increasing heights are great

    the llandegla one is quite good example

    Skinnies of varying width/height/angles
    Drops, as above
    Berms. Not enough people really learn how to ride berms
    Phatt jumps
    Rock garden

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    drops, steps, step ups, rock gardens, berms a 4x track, a double and table line (in parallel) a/b/c sections to build up on, log rides, skinnies, rollers, kickers….and maybe a garden shed

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    Depends on who you want to attract – I’ve seen quite a few beginners groups on the one by Manchester velodrome – adults who appear not to have ridden a bike for years, and the skill level is very, very basic.

    The Manc one would probably be good to take a look at, if you’re after ideas for what a novice-friendly skills loop might look like.

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    tabletops with big take offs + landings, but a short ‘top’ – so that they’re easily cleared – this is great for confidence.

    usually, tabletops in skills areas are just far too big, or tiny – which if anything is even harder.

    (A take off which is so short that your front wheel is airborne while your back wheel is still on the flat, is not an easy thing to deal with)

    the take off + landing slopes need to be at least 1 andahalf bike lengths.

    (i’ve even got some drawings somewhere that i did for a local Council about 1000 years ago if they’d be handy?)

    JEngledow
    Member

    One of these must surely be essential these days:

    +1 for the double and table line (in parallel) – a lot of people struggle with the psychology of jumping doubles, but if you can see a direct comparison between the tables you’ve just cleared and a set of doubles then it’ll make the transition easier (in theory)!

    Premier Icon timidwheeler
    Subscriber

    Doubles in a range of heights.
    I would put beginner’s features off to one side and arrange features by difficulty rather than putting all the doubles in a line or all the drops in the same place.
    Most importantly can you build it close to my house?

    Van Halen
    Member

    Surely a normal trail or town is a skills area? Most have all the things listed above.

    Apart from the loop which would be ace!

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    The idea of a skills area is that you can repeat until you master the skill rather than riding 20km to do it once.

    Premier Icon Onzadog
    Subscriber

    Who do you want to attract? Are you looking at people just playing and learning by trial and error or might they be coached?

    If there’s going to be any level of coaching, a nice clear flat area big enough for a wide figure of 8 is invaluable. Make sure the surface is soft enough to stumble on but not long draggy grass as you need to be able to roll on it.

    When you start coaching people, you realise how much work people need on fundamentals like braking, gear changing and cornering.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    A nice comfortable table-top.
    So many skills areas have jumps built for BMX – tight, with awkward run-ins, or a dipped top.
    Llandegla for example – jumps in the skills area – rubbish. Jumps on the trail – great.
    Same with Dalby (last time I was there).
    Just a nice dead straight jump with a long backside transition.

    What I really want is this:
    Leighton Buzzard apparently

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    I quite like the skinnies at Dalby though. Ever-narrowing with plenty of get-outs.

    Premier Icon edhornby
    Subscriber

    good mobile signal and easy access for the ambulances

    fr0sty125
    Member

    There will be complete novices riding this and I expect experienced riders. It will be in an inner city area. I will have a look at the Manchester one see what they have.

    Ahwiles I would be very interested in seeing them.

    [EDIT] FYI the city already has two purpose built BMX tracks and a pump track.

    MrNice
    Member

    another vote here for drops/jumps in increasing sizes. It helps to avoid the situation where everything is either “easy peasy” or “I’m not trying that”

    Premier Icon mcnultycop
    Subscriber

    Ones where the feature of the skills area have gradings that translate to features on the trail.

    Drops, berms, boardwalk, off camber turns, rock gardens should all feature.

    Grantown-on-Spey skills area is best I have seen:

    rene59
    Member

    good mobile signal and easy access for the ambulances

    Was going to say a first aid station but this is better!

    glasgowdan
    Member

    travellinjones – Member
    Grantown-on-Spey skills area is best I have seen:

    http://vimeo.com/34968269

    Hrm… no, to me that’s not much of a skills area. Motorway gravel, tiny drops, wide wide woodwork, I’d feel cheated if I was getting built up for some new local skills trails and got that!

    Premier Icon longcranks
    Subscriber

    Pump track at MTB scale. Start ramps to access pump track and other features such as drops, berms, flat corners, etc. Typical trail obstacles; rocks, roots, off-camber turns, short technical climb Good drainage, all weather surface, clear slight lines, safe landing/run-out areas. Tie-in with local cycling infra-structure; LBS, guides/coaches, clubs and associations.

    Repeat is the best I have seen. Each to their own.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Lots of stuff, easily repeated, basically. If you look at the glentress one now, it’s pretty terrible, the actual features are decent but it’s become a very tiny xc loop rather than any sort of meaningful skills area.

    The one at Comrie Croft is very good in most ways IMO, goes all the way from a tiny pumptrack for kids bikes, up to decent sized jumps and mandatory air drops and the like, and all super compact and mostly ridable in little loops. It’s not that impressive to look at but it works really well, I always end up riding it til I can’t, rather than getting bored.

    Premier Icon Kona TC
    Subscriber

    Hrm… no, to me that’s not much of a skills area. Motorway gravel, tiny drops, wide wide woodwork, I’d feel cheated if I was getting built up for some new local skills trails and got that!

    Whilst not mahoosive I’d not say they were tiny. And freshy built trails are deceptive, after a few weeks the edges will sink into the ground and the mud will get washed onto the trail untill you’re left with actual singletrack.

    I like that Leighton Buzzard one.

    I would prefer a trail with some gradient though, drops wouldn’t work on a pump track (without pedaling). Maybe having 4 sequentialy bigger drops (and bail outs) so you can ride the trail building upto the bigger ones each time. Then crossing the push/ride up track, then 4 tabletops with parralel doubles. Then something else like tightening switchbacks, switchbacks with steps in them, sections with awquard line choices. So you could do just one section on repeat, or do the whole thing.

    I think tight berms are one of the less well ridden features at trail centers, at Swinely you could ride much higher/faster entrances and exits than the main braking bump riddled trail, showing that they could be ridden with less braking in the first place! But difficult to build them on flat ground

    TiRed
    Member

    Haldon Forest skills area and pump track are just about perfect. You can’t go wrong copying that.

    Successively bigger drops with chicken runs past all of them so you can do full runs and and flow better when you’re working your way up with heights. Putting berms in between the drops is a good idea because then you get twice as much out of the same piece of trail, and having other things to occupy the brain can help you progress by reducing tension.

    A proper beginner tabletop. Side by side tabletops and gaps done the same so you can mix up the smaller gaps and bigger tables as you progress.

    Northshore features close to the ground so you can build technique/confidence with minimal risk.

    Two flat corners, one left, one right which exit uphill, so you can work on improving exit speed with better cornering technique by comparing how far uphill you get without pedalling.

    Some rock garden sections.

    Have a look at leelikesbikes.com there’s tons of good ideas there!

    fr0sty125
    Member

    Significant gradient will be difficult the area is pretty much flat.

    I_Ache
    Member

    fr0sty125 – Member
    There will be complete novices riding this and I expect experienced riders. It will be in an inner city area. I will have a look at the Manchester one see what they have.

    Ahwiles I would be very interested in seeing them.

    [EDIT] FYI the city already has two purpose built BMX tracks and a pump track.

    Please say its Birmingham. If so where?

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    Northshore features close to the ground so you can build technique/confidence with minimal risk.

    +1 and the gradual drops/tabletops already mentioned.
    Oh and stick to one skill at a time don’t have drop into berm into jump into etc and if you are doing a run of little – medium – big drops make sure there is enough space between them for land, get a wobble on, recover and then brake to a halt if needed before the next drop.

    Van Halen
    Member

    None of my local trails are 20 miles long. Maybe 1min max. I can repeat as much as necessary. I don’t understand the mentality to ride loops only once or without stopping and doing good/hard bits again.

    That said I don’t understand skills areas. If you can’t see/find a challenge on a normal trail, or ride around town, you are not really trying.

    thekettle
    Member

    If the features are laid out in a way that makes them all visible from a central point, it’s much easier to coach a group on (as observation is easier). Llandegla achieves this well.

    Premier Icon mcnultycop
    Subscriber

    The drops are just a little bit too close at Llandegla. Fine if you have the skills, less so if you are learning them.

    oliverd1981
    Member

    I’m going to say a see-saw, I’m not sure what you learn riding one but they’re ace fun.

    Make sure that there is a clear route back to the start of the line that doesn’t get in the way of any one riding the obstacles.

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