It has been quite some time since I’ve ridden my small trials practice area in the backyard. In addition to some rubber truck and tractor tires, I’ve also included some small rocks as rideable features. While riding pallets is certainly fun and allows for easy rearrangement of the features, riding rocks provides an additional challenge due to the imperfections on the surface that force you to learn better bike control. In my practice area, I’ve used small rocks, so I can practice in a low consequence environment. When you know you’re going to fail, crash, and bail, it’s nice to have the bike less than a foot off the ground.
There are currently three rocks in this practice area. The one on the west side (see photo above) is relatively smooth and nearly flat on top, though it’s not perfect like a concrete surface. The one on the east side (see close up in the video) is absolutely terrible on top, making it my favorite rock to practice on. The rock in the middle is very smooth, but is not only rounded on top, but it’s extremely sloped, so it’s like hopping on a fat off-camber rail (it’s tough to stick the landing). That’s the rock I’m hopping towards in the photo above. At some point I intend to add more rocks to the area, but these have been challenge enough for me already since I still have not mastered them.
While I absolutely love doing gaps, the rocks give another opportunity as well, which is to practice staying on them while maintaining control. I was sort of trying to do that on this ride, but probably not to the extent I could have. I think the next time I ride here I’m going to avoid trying to do any gaps, and instead just focus on seeing how long I can stay balanced on my rear wheel atop each rock.
There are also a handful of rubber tires, some of which are integrated into the course, while others were previously installed, but have been removed temporarily in order to find a better way to use them to create rideable obstacles. I also plan to add more tires, some wooden features (hopefully cable reels, phone poles and railroad ties), more (and bigger rocks), and whatever else I can get my hands on.
Finally, I’ve realized that the topsoil back here is just too loose. It’s tough to ride on because it’s soft (harder to hop on) and because it moves around when you try to steer. Furthermore, it settles too much, so the dirt in the tires keeps getting lower. To help improve the rideability, I intend to add some quarry process stone (crushed stone with stone dust) as well, both as a top layer to ride on in the whole area, as well as to use as fill in obstacles like the tires. This stuff compacts nicely, and unlike loose stone, won’t trip you up by moving around under your front wheel.
Despite the need for some improvements, the area still offers me good practice, tough challenges, and fun riding. Keep an eye out for more riding videos here, and possibly a video or two on improvements and additional features.