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I bought the materials for my backyard mtb skinny practice area.

Friday, September 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

(3) 8-foot 1x6 boards and (4) 8' 2x4 boards.

(3) 8-foot 1x6 boards and (4) 8' 2x4 boards.

Yesterday I went to Home Depot and purchased the raw materials to build my backyard skinny practice feature. I picked up (3) 8-foot pressure treated 1×6 boards, (4) 8-foot pressure treated 2×4 boards and a box of galvanized nails. The idea is to use the 1x6s to create the riding surface (1x6s are actually 5.5 inches in width), and the 2x4s to create the support structure. I bought enough 2x4s (which are actually 3.5″ in width) so that I can add on 3.5″ sections as my skinny riding skills improve.

As an aside, it was so nice to be able to go to Home Depot and pick all this stuff up (plus 10 bags of mulch) and have everything fit in my truck with plenty of room to spare. I really love my new truck–I’m so glad I finally bought one.

Worst. Skinny. Rider. Ever.

Worst. Skinny. Rider. Ever.

I know from my limited experience riding skinnies on the trails that my skills in that area leave a lot to be desired. In fact, it’s quite possible that I’m the worst skinny rider in the history of mountain biking. I confirmed this when I placed the three 2×6 boards in a line on the ground and only made it the entire 24 feet three times out of about 50 tries. Yikes.

Balance is such a crucial mountain biking skill, and this is a huge hole in my mtb game. Before I elevate the skinnies I’m going to practice riding them on the ground until I can traverse the entire 24 feet with consistency. Once I can do that I’ll elevate the skinnies a foot off the ground, and when I master that then I’ll raise them to two feet.

When I finally do elevate the riding platform I want to do it in such a way that I can set it up and tear it down quickly. We worked hard to make our backyard into a lush, tropical retreat, and a mountain bike skills area doesn’t exactly fit with that motif.

I’m going to try to put in at least 30 minutes of practice every day until I’m riding the line like I’m glued to it. I think mastering this skill is going to improve my mountain biking and confidence on the trails by an order of a magnitude.

Happy Friday!

John Stone Fitness Comments

7 Responses to “I bought the materials for my backyard mtb skinny practice area.”
  1. I used to hate skinnies until I learned to focus 20ft ahead of me. If you focus directly in front of the bike you will make too many small corrections and ultimately fail. If you focus out 20 ft, it is easier to maintain a straight line. Good luck!

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  2. When you do elevate them, make sure that they aren’t level. You will never find level skinnies. This sounds trivial, but you need to get use to riding up and down skinnies. When riding up you need to learn how to apply consistent pressure. When riding down you need to learn how to use a little brake without sliding off.

    Also, if you get use to riding on pressure treated lumber you will do great. Most of the skinnies where I ride are just make from downed trees that have been scalped with a chain saw. The wood is much rougher than pressure treated lumber and allows for much more friction.

    Lastly, double down on what craigstr said. This applies to all mtb skills. Cornering, rock gardens, etc. You need to be looking way out ahead of yourself. The bike will automatically go where you are looking. If you are looking down you will go down.

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      • Thanks man. Just wanted to say that I found your site about 6 years ago and have always found it inspirational. However, i haven’t exactly given my full effort yet at a transformation. We have (had) a lot in common actually lol. Pretty much the same build (bf your transformation), I was a smoker (6 weeks nicotine free!), I still smoke a lil’ weed, and when i saw you started mtb ridin’, i was like “holy shit, I gotta do this!” So, like you said once, now that i’ve kicked cigarettes, i feel like i can do ANYTHING!

        Anyways, just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story and I’m proud of you (as if that matters). Hopefully I’ll have some pics to show you in about six months and you can share a new Transformation of the Month!

        oh, and i was intrigued about your bike because i was a bmx racer back in the early eighties and just recently bought a Kona mtb that i can handle like a BMX bike, so i’m pumped to get back into it.

        Ok John, i’m done rambling!


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        • Hey Doug,

          Thanks for the kind words and for being a loyal reader!

          Great job quitting smoking. You’ve got the right idea: use that as momentum for the other things you want to accomplish.

          Kona makes sweet bikes, enjoy!

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