A mountain bike ladder bridge refers to a man-made surface usually made out of wood. Its primary purpose is to bridge a gap that might be unrideable or unsafe for mountain bikers. Ladder bridges may be built over streams, swamps, ravines, and fallen trees, enabling bikers to ride over obstacles.
In this article, we will briefly discuss the use of ladder bridges by mountain bikers and how to build a ladder bridge – the materials and tools needed.
Uses of Ladder Bridges by Mountain Bikers
Besides being a safe method for bikers to overcome obstacles such as bogs, ladder bridges could also add to the challenge of riding mountain biking trails. They provide opportunities for you to test your ladder drop, balance, and hand/ eye coordination skills.
Ladder bridges are also used to connect sections of trail that are prone to soil erosion. Thankfully, it is relatively easy to construct ladder bridges, as you will find out.
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Building a Mountain Bike Ladder Bridge- Tools and Materials Required
Mountain bike ladder bridges are long-lasting if they are made from a non-rotting wood. Therefore, picking the right wood (such as cedar) is essential. The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) recommends avoiding direct contact of wood with dirt.
To elevate the structure of the ladder bridge from the ground, one could use rocks and concrete footings. This ensures the ladder bridge does not rot quickly.
These are the steps in building a ladder bridge:
- Find an authorized location to build the bridge and open space where you could cut wood logs or planks
- Cedar is the ideal choice of wood as it splits easily during construction. Try to find deadfall cedar of at least 2 feet diameter
- If you are unable to find a suitable deadfall, use a chainsaw to cut down a tree of at least 1-foot diameter. If it is less than that, it will be difficult to bike across. The length of wood should be 2-3 inches longer than your gap. This ensures it fits correctly.
- Another way of obtaining wood planks is by taking apart wood pallets used in transporting goods
- Bury all your supports at least 18” to 24” into the ground. To avoid fast rotting, the wooden support has to be treated when putting deep into the soil.
- Get an excellent post hole digger. It reduces the time to used to dig a hole, although it could be slightly expensive.
- You will always need to have cross supports between your posts and down-angle supports
- Make a vertical cut every 2-3 inches.
- Use a sledgehammer to hit on the sides with nails. Make sure it is firm and steady.
If you are unsure about the process, XS Progression has an instructional video, as shown below.
With that, you are ready to build a mountain bike ladder bridge. If you wish to speed up the process, you could also purchase wooden planks in the sizes required from your local woodwork supplier or DIY store.