Yesterday, after posting about how I had finished the base of my teeter, I had a little IM conversation with Brad:
Brad: When do I get to come try it out?"
Fatty: Oh, I think we’ll finish it tonight or tomorrow.
Brad: Cool, I’ll send out an email to everyone to meet at your house tomorrow at 7am.
Fatty: No, I said I MIGHT finish it tonight.
Brad: Well, if everyone’s going to be at your house tomorrow at 7, you’ll be highly motivated to finish it before then.
Brad was right. Knowing that people would be coming over to put the teeter through its paces the next morning, I got to work as soon as I got home. Luckily, the challenging part of the teeter — the base — was done; building the ramp was just a matter of cutting 2" x 4" boards into equal-length slats, beveling the ends of the 2" x 6" x 12′ boards, and drilling a hole in the right place.
Finishing the Job
Here’s are a few notes about this part of the job. This is mostly just boasting and meandering observations, so you can skip on to the next section if you want. It has pictures and video and descriptive text and stuff.
- Somewhere, I measured something wrong. According to the design I made, the ramp was supposed to be 15.5" wide. I’m glad that before I started cutting boards, though, I measured the distance between the uprights: 17". I didn’t want 1.5" of play between the ramp and uprights, so made an executive decision: the ramp would be 16.5" wide. My guess is that extra inch is from the 2" x 4" boards not really being 2" x 4".
- My technique for placing the boards on the ramp worked perfectly. By the time I had cut all the 2" x 4" boards I had bought, I had 28 16.5" pieces, each 3.5" wide. The ramp is 144" long. So that means I had 46" of gap space (144 – (28*3.5)) I had to distribute. You have no idea how proud of myself I am for remembering there would be only 27 gaps to divide this space into, not 28. So individual gaps would be 1.7" (46 / 27) wide, meaning the total distance from the left edge of one board to the left edge of the next board would be 5.2". On my ruler, that’s close enough to 5 1/4" to call good. I marked increments of 5 1/4" on one 12′ board, clamped the two 12′ boards together, then used a t-square to draw a line across both boards together, so any little errors I made in measuring would be represented on both boards, keeping things even.
- Things seem much bigger inside than outside. As I built this teeter, I kept asking myself if those 12′ boards were too long. I’d look at the way I couldn’t stand them upright in my garage because they hit the (high) ceiling. When I finally finished the teeter and assembled it in the backyard, suddenly that 12′ ramp looked just right.
- Why the hole is offset 4" instead of 3". I had planned to offset the hole by three inches, but — of course — there was a big knot intersecting the point the hole would go. Knowing that I didn’t want to bore a big hole overlapping a knot, I moved the hole location an inch to the left. In practical terms, that means it takes an inch longer before the teeter flips over, and you have an inch less rollout at the end.
- My wife has a good eye. As I was about 2/3 of the way done building the ramp, my wife came out into the garage, looked at the hole in the ramp, looked at the base, and said, "Hm." I hate it when she says that. She then pointed out that the lateral bracing I had put at the top of the diagonal bracing would get in the way of the ramp — it would be impossible to put the ramp on the low setting the way I had it. It only took about ten minutes for me to shift that bracing down about three inches, but I’m glad she pointed this problem out while I still had everything in the garage, not once I had it out in the yard.
Take a Look
Just before dark, it was done. It takes two adults to lift and move each part, but my wife was game to help. Here’s how it looks when I sit on the ground and take a picture so it looks as steep, long, and imposing as possible.
And here’s what it looks like when you’re approaching it:
And, to give you an idea of how high the ramp goes, here’s me standing by it this morning, with the ramp at the high setting. I’m 5′8", and the top of the ramp is higher than my head. Not that this end of the ramp is still going to be pointed up by the time you get to it, but you can’t help but wonder as you’re riding….
A little bit nervous, I opted to put it on the low setting for the first few tries. Click here for a video (in YouTube) of my very first ride on the Teeter.
Nattering nabobs’ predictions notwithstanding, it worked beautifully. Solid as a tank, too. I daresay Al Maviva and Big Mike could ride a tandem over this thing (which, by the way, I would pay $50 to see)without the teeter breaking. I would not vouch for the status of the tandem, however.
More Fun This Morning
As promised, some friends — Brad, Gary, Botched — showed up this morning to try out the teeter. Starting with the low setting, we rode it a few times, getting a feel for it. I was a little nervous because — not wanting to be shown up by my friends — I was riding my singlespeed today, which is fully rigid. Things went great, though.
And then I got cocky.
Here’s a bit of advice: no matter how many times you ride a teeter, don’t ride it casually, and especially don’t ride it casually at low speed. Here’s me, suddenly realizing I’m not going fast enough. You can see I’m veering left:
And here’s me, after rolling off the left edge before I hit the bottom of the ramp, causing me to stack up and endo from a pretty decent height:
So what’s the proper response to a painful fall (though not too painful, thanks to nice soft grass)? Raise the fulcrum! Here’s me rolling off the bottom of the ramp, now much steeper, demonstrating that I’m a "get back on the horse" kinda guy:
And here’s a much better picture of Brad riding this steeper and higher ramp:
You want to know what’s going through Brad’s head in this picture? It’s this: "I’m more than eight feet in the air and only three feet from the end of the ramp. Is this thing going to start going down sometime soon, or should I bail right now before this gets worse?"
And now video: Here’s Brad, riding the Teeter set at the high level. Scary!
Botched showed up for the ride, um, ill-equipped. That is, he had no helmet, no bike shoes, and no bike. Kindly, I loaned him my bike and told him to give it a whirl anyway. Here’s Botched, making a tentative roll up the ramp.
He then bailed out by riding the bike backward down the ramp.
Here’s my question: If you have the skill to ride a bike up a ramp, stall, and then ride it back down the ramp backward, why don’t you just ride the whole stinkin’ ramp?
I believe I posed this very question to Botched, though I may also inadvertently have called him a coward somewhere in there. Here’s his reply:
So What’s Next?
I don’t really want to leave this in my backyard. It was fun to build and it’s fun to ride, but I want to share it. What I’d really like to do is make this part of Lambert Park, a great little mountain bike park near where I live. If anyone in the Utah area knows the right people to make this happen, let me know. Or if you know of another good place this could go without getting destroyed or getting people into trouble, let me know.
As for me, I had a blast building this thing. I’m already thinking about what my next mountain bike stunt project will be.