When it comes to built features, there are a few best practices to keep in mind to help if there ever is an incident. While we would love to think no one will ever get hurt on anything that the chapter is responsible for, the truth is it’s not if it will happen but when.

First off we need to define what is a feature. It is any built structure that can be made of wood, dirt or rock. These include but are not limited to bridges, drops, jumps, skinnies, etc. Let us make it clear that we do not discourage the inclusion of these features, we just need to make sure the design, implementation and maintenance of them is taken into account.

So here are a few things to keep in mind when building and maintaining your built features:

  • You should devise an inspection and maintenance plan for each feature and schedule regular inspection of what is built. The inspection should be for Technical Trail Features (TTFs) and built wooden structures like bridges.
  • Make sure that plan is obtainable and easy to perform. It is up to you and your chapter to decide the intervals for inspection. If it’s not easy and obtainable you and your chapter will not want to follow through with the task.
  • In the event of a strong storm that may cause damage by wind, erosion, or downed trees, you should inspect all features. This inspection is in addition to your regularly scheduled inspections.
  • You need to keep a log of your features, when they are inspected and what work was done if there is a repair.
  • Make sure this log is accessible by a number of people, basic and is simple to use. We recommend using something like Google Sheets or another web based program to store your inspection log.
  • Nothing says you can’t check features while riding, just make sure your intended purpose of the ride is to inspect features. Riding your bike is often the easiest and quickest way to access these features.
  • Wooden Features:
    • Check fasteners for rust, corrosion, missing or broken pieces.
    • Check wood for rot, broken or missing pieces, and is structurally sound.
    • Make sure the feature is still firmly anchored to the ground.
  • Natural Features:
    • Check for erosion and puddling caused by normal use or rain event.
    • Check for debris that may make the feature unrideable for the intended user.
    • Make sure the feature is still rideable as it was originally intended.
  • When in doubt consult or hire a professional. Many of these features require some skill and past experience to design and build. Jumps in particular. If you don’t have a background with jumps it might be a good idea to get someone involved who does. Poorly built jumps can get real dangerous real quick. Good jumps can be ridden safely because speed, distance, launch and landing angles are taken into account. Same goes for wooden construction. Don’t half ass it.

With these few bullet points in mind your organization can do your part to keep your liability low as well as provide a great riding experience because you know all your features are dialed at all times.

For more information please read this article published by our insurance agent:
https://www.marshmma.com/blog/building-mountain-bike-trails-can-be-risky-business

A great example of a Google form used for inspection. This form will automatically create a spreadsheet:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1pGrNYhz_Nnrg1el43KTTxhnDrC1H2XdhqGsKwyjorFw/edit?ts=60abce32