Ever since my wife and I starting talking about taking down my son’s playscape in the backyard, I had visions of using the wood to build trials features. We tore it down a year or two ago, and as planned, I retained some of the wood – in particular, four longer posts to make beams for riding skinnies. As we disassembled the rickety structure, it quickly became apparent that most of the bolts were so rusted that they could not be removed. My chainsaw made quick work of the wood instead, though that left a bunch of wooden “nubs” still attached to my otherwise pristine beams. While I could certainly saw the bolts (and might do that one day), in the meantime, I figured that these bits of wood would add another level of difficulty to the skinnies.

I did try cobbling some lines together last winter using the beams, but it was a bit scary not having a really stable configuration. Flash forward to a few weeks ago, and I finally got the L brackets needed to attach the scrap-wood bases to a couple of the beams. And of course that meant I needed to try riding my new creations!

Since I started with two beams, that meant I had the opportunity to create multiple lines. In this video I explored several different configurations to practice rail gaps, skinnies, getting onto the rear wheel to hop from a skinny, and skinnies with 90-degree turns. I can’t wait to make another pair with the other two posts, since that means longer rail gap lines, much longer skinnies, and skinnies with more turns.

As expected, the wooden nubs made riding these beams even more difficult. Beyond just riding across them, they made wheel placement tough. This presented challenges in two particular moves. The first was in getting onto the rear wheel from a skinny, and the other was getting around the turn without “tripping” the front wheel over the nubs.

One final thing to point out is that I had an epiphany regarding my technique for riding skinnies. Well, I should say more that I actually remembered to do something I already knew I should be doing: look further ahead instead of right at your front wheel. After I realized that to get up onto the beam that I should look a couple feet ahead of my front wheel and just keep the front edge of the beam in my peripheral, I was able to get on and across the beam fairly consistently. For the most part.

I definitely plan to do a lot more skinny practicing now, especially since I have multiple beams, and even more on the way. Skinnies really help build balance and bike control skills. So do the rail gap lines. I’m looking forward to more sessions like this!

Categories: Videos


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