Matt Jones took the opportunity to get his backyard dream track from an idea to reality thanks to some extra time afforded by lockdown.
Being a pro rider definitely has its benefits, and Matt Jones took full advantage of lockdown to get his dream backyard jump line built.
When did you decide to make a line of jumps in the garden?
Ever since I moved to my new house back in December, I had a plan to build rideable jumps in the garden but I was always a bit of a dream that existed in the future as I was pretty busy with travelling and not enough time was spent at home to make it happen. When lockdown was announced I began digging the very next day.
Once you had decided to get it dialled, what happened next?
I had to order in some dirt to get the jumps started, as I knew I’d have to start off small with minimal speed, but things got bigger fast so the dirt deliveries kept coming and I didn’t stop digging for the first 15 weeks.
How did you narrow down the options to the track you ended up building?
I never wanted to plan too far ahead. For me I’ve always had a map in my head of how a set of trails should look, but when it comes down to building it, the line takes its own course and things get more creative and spontaneous. So we went from jump to jump, building them the best they can be and then asked the YouTube audience what they thought should come next, and people were so helpful and imaginative that we often went with their ideas.
Did the need to not go to hospital during the height of the pandemic affect the design of the line at all?
I definitely kept a close eye on government guidelines, the vast majority of time was spent digging, and then when the time came to test the features, I was super confident in what I’d built. Thankfully the bigger jumps came when pro riders were allowed to return to sport and training.
Did the track layout change while you were building?
It was forever changing but the stuff that had been built and test ridden always remained. There’s things I want to change in the lines now, but I’m weirdly attached to what’s there, as so many people have shared the build and the story with me online. It’s like my first car that didn’t really run very well but I never wanted to fix it either, it’s just rad the way it is.
What did you know you did and didn’t want to do with this line?
From the get-go, I wanted to build a spine, a shark fin and a whale tail out of dirt. The whale tail ended up being made from ply wood but I managed to tick those three boxes in the line of jumps. The YouTube audience were the same, so many people wanted to see a shark fin feature from the start so that came quite early on. Other than that I honestly just went with the flow and made it up as I went along.
How did you work out what kind of dirt to use for the various stages?
Buying in dirt was a bit of a lottery. I called a mate who’s a farmer who had some loose soil piled up, so that got me going. But the best source I found was screened top soil which is about £14 per tonne, and then the dirt out of the ground in my garden was great too, although digging down with shovels was back-breaking. I’ve worked out that the full line is about 110 tonnes of dirt.
What tools did you use to build the line?
I’m lucky that I have a sponsorship deal with Silverline Tools who provide me with shovels, spades and rakes etc. But 95% of the time building was using a tapered mouth steel shovel, and a wheel barrow. However I did find myself using a plastering trowel to work some of the corners of jumps and smooth up the transitions. That was pretty cool.
How long did it take to finish?
I’m still not finished, but I dug everyday for the first 80 days, and then started having a few days off, but I don’t think it’ll ever be ‘finished’, I’m too addicted to the process of building.
Did you under or over estimate the amount of dirt you’d need?
Because I never had a plan, it was hard to predict how much dirt was needed so I just ordered 10 or 20 tonnes in whenever it was needed, however on a couple of occasions we’d move the whole 20 tonnes in one day, so it’s pretty insane how quickly it can disappear into jumps or rollers, even just using a shovel and wheel barrow.
What did you learn during the building of this line that you’d take to building another?
I’ve definitely learned to space the features out more. Some sections are quite tight and packed together. So spreading jumps out would make them flow more nicely to ride, but also leave scope to make them bigger in the future without running out of space.
Testing the new jumps each time after days of digging, and watching Ben (my filmer who lived with me for lockdown) ride dirt jumps for the first time.