For the past two months my friends and I have been busy building an intricate network of ladder trails and various obstacles on Stringers Ridge in Red Bank, TN. We got the idea from those Kranked videos put out by Radical-Films. So if you are a hardcore mountain biker you probably have seen some pictures of those North Shore elevated bike trails.
These elevated ladder trails are few and far between in the south. If you want the really, really, good trails I suggest heading north to anywhere in Canada: Vancouver, The Kamloops, all of British Columbia,The North Shore, or if you really want to meet a great mountain bike rider check out Deep Cove, B.C. for Thomas Vanderham.
We have been gathering wood from construction dumpsters, and off of people's properties in order to build our trails. First, you will need a large quantity of 2x4s, x4s, and 1x4 planks, heavy duty 4 inch long nails, chicken wire, roofing nails, saws, hammer s, level, and a creative mind.
The planks are very hard to come by and we found that wooden packing pallets work very nicely. You can find these palates at your local grocery store or hardware store. I highly suggest that you ask the store or property owners before you start to take all the wood your car can handle. Also you could try building sites and homes that are being remodeled becuase people will throw out good wood which can be reused by a person like yourself.
We start out by picking out a section of hillside or flatland in the woods and then clearing out a path on the ground. Then we nail supports, into the ground, made out of 4x4s and 2x4s. It is very important that you make trusses in order to support the load of the ladders and the rider. Next, we take two 2x4s and lay them parallel about a foot and a half apart, with the 2 inch section facing up. Then, nail your planks down on the 2x4s. I usually space these about 4 inches apart.The purpose for the chicken wire is so that your bike can have some traction on wet trails. Since my friends and I live in the South and it seems to rain at least once a week the chicken wire is a must. I usually nail down these strips of chicken wire with roofing nails or a staple gun.
When this is complete nail the ladder onto your supports. You can get creative as you want and as bold as you want. We have managed to build a seesaw that kicks some major ass. The idea behind the seesaw is that you have enough weight on the entrance side that when you go over the seesaw it will drop back into place. I recommend taking some large stones and tying them onto the underside of the seesaw. You will also need to build some guides on the left and right of the seesaw so that the ladder will stay inline with the trail. We accomplished this by nailing a foot long section of 2x4 on top of the 4x4 so the ladder fit on to the 2x4. Next, we nailed two six-inch pieces of 2x4 on the left and right of the ladder to inhibit its horizontal movement. Now all that you have to do is nail two ladder width length pieces of 2x4 about six inches in front of and behind the 4x4. This will inhibit the ladders forward and backwards movement.
You can build these trails as high as you dare to go, but I highly suggest that you start small and then as your riding skills improve you can build higher. Change-up the difficulty by adding turns and large drop offs to you ladder trails. We are currently building a 20-foot drop off down the side of a ravine. So have fun with these and you might want to invest in a camera because the wrecks will be spectacular.