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Building and Riding the Backyard Whale Tail

Mar 29, 2020
Today we are going to visit a Dirt Merchant, no, not that Dirt Merchant. The Dirt Merchant. Like, a guy with dirt... inventory. This particular dirt is free because the merchant is trying to get rid of it. You get something different in every scoop, mostly clay, sand, lots of shale, and the occasional glove or pipe fitting. And we're going to need a lot for this week's project. Brian and I are marking what will be the most ambitious line on Berm Peak, and it goes just past the flight deck on this empty stretch of trail. That means it comes right before the Kevin Jump.
building and riding the backyard whale tail
So to get this right, we'll work backwards. So this project starts with a landing. These trunks form a cage to contain the dirt. Without them we could still build a landing, but we would need a lot more land and a lot more time. We are cutting the logs so that they block, somehow. They'll need something extra, so we're making monster nails out of rebar and driving them deep into the wood so they won't hurt anyone. To get the dirt from the trailer to the landing, we use the Gitter and shovel everything by hand. Without Brian's help, this would have been a never-ending task.
building and riding the backyard whale tail

More Interesting Facts About,

building and riding the backyard whale tail...

Each alligator load is half a ton and we ended up needing 5 tons or 10 loads to fill our cage. With the soil in place, all we needed to do was pack it down. So I decided to give the Wacker Packer another try. And this time it only took 5 minutes to turn Dirt Merchant's worthless inventory into a solid

riding

surface. Meanwhile, Kevin and Alexander began fixing some problem areas on the berm. The winger takes the most abuse, so the heavier, rockier trading ground should provide more armor. Building it should also make Kevin jump less sketchy to ride. This was Alexander's first time on Berm Peak.
building and riding the backyard whale tail
So before we got too far into the project, he wanted to follow the existing line. So we put the kicker ramp in front of the landing and considered it a preliminary test. Alex broke the record for fewest runs for Kevin's jump. Maybe it was the trip to Whistler, or maybe it was all the work Kevin put into the berm. In any case, Alexander got to experience the original Kevin Jump and the infamous shirring iron. And now, I'm going to do what many of you have been asking for. So that we can bring more speed to this roll-in, I'm adding a sort of skid plate to the bottom.
building and riding the backyard whale tail
I'm sad this challenge is going away, but we need something more functional to make this line work. Now to start working on the actual function, for which we need all this speed. These 16 foot 2x12s are typically used as joists. But we are using them as the sides of our transition. It's called a

whale

tail

, and although I've ridden

whale

tail

s before, I've never built one. So Kevin and I used what we learned from previous projects to try to get the dimensions right. Once we cut out our sides, we sealed them with decking stain. This is very rare on Berm Peak, but without the sealer, this wood will rot.
And using pressure-treated wood just wouldn't be right because, well, it's a whalebone. Figuring out where to place our whale tail was a group effort. We only had one chance to get it right and there wasn't much of an adjustment once assembled. Once we settled on a permanent location, we began

building

the whale tail. The terrain was sloped and out of curvature, so we would have to build it in place according to the terrain. Days before, I had already cut rough-sawn black locust planks, so we would have a weather-resistant, grippy driving surface. Last month we built this boot ramp out of white oak found here at Berm Peak.
I hinted that we would use it for something and that something comes just before the whale tail. After some testing, some tweaking, and more testing, we were getting close to being able to ride this thing. But there was no way to jump the middle of the gap at the end, so we'd need to practice focusing a few times and decide as a group that it was ready to ship. There really wasn't any more testing we could do. It was time to move on and see if all our markings and measurements paid off. The whale tail felt amazing and addictive.
Also, the edits Kevin made to the berm made the whole line feel perfect. You may be seeing this thinking, that whale tail looks ridiculously funny. And you would be well. It's so smooth and satisfying that you can really hear how much fun it is. With the whale tail immediately after the flight deck, we could consider this a new route. Now, Berm Peak Express ends at the landing and rhodorrooter starts right at the roll in. So our map now looks like this. And I want to continue creating technical and challenging features along this path. But we want to do it right.
If there's one thing I learned during this project, it's that coming up with a solid plan...it really works! But there is one more part of this plan that I have yet to execute. Thanks for

riding

with me today and I'll see you next time.

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