10.6.2006 | 7:38 pm

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….

First Ride
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.

And here’s a video from the front.

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:

Now Higher
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.

Yes, really.

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.


  1. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 10.6.2006 | 8:52 pm

    In my defense, I didn’t get a chance to ride the teeter on the lower setting and the wet sandals on egg beater pedals made it tough to even pedal the bike on the flat. But the truth is that I was scared. It’s a big scary teeter and if you look up at the picture of brad, you see why: Brad’s weight is almost perfectly over the fulcrum of the teeter, so the teeter hasn’t started (or is just beginning) to move. Now look at his front tire. As you said, it’s a couple feet from the end, so to ride it, you have to ride up 5 feet high on a 1.5 foot wide board and then basically stop and do a track stand while the teeter tips. Wild.
    My complements on a fine teeter. I fully endorse scary moves. Why build something you’re bored of doing after 5 rides? It’s very well built and even looks good.
    P.S. Uh, sorry about the bike. If you want I’ll come get it and get it working again.

  2. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 10.6.2006 | 8:53 pm

    Oh, love the video. I’ve watched them a bunch. Watch how on the tall setting brad almost has to come to a stop at the end of the teeter.

  3. Comment by mtnbound | 10.6.2006 | 9:55 pm

    I have to say, Well Done!  What a week – a great early morning mtb ride and, as if that’s not good enough, you have to build a ramp to kick things into high gear.  Makes me feel like a complete slug – now I have to get at least 2 rides in this weekend to make it up.  I have never ridden a ramp but now I want to try – just need to find a trail with one.
    FC, you are really ramping your blog up – not only good writing but pics, diagrams, and now YouTube!  What’s next?
    Mtbike W

  4. Comment by barry1021 | 10.6.2006 | 10:31 pm

    Man those nails in the ramp boards are straight and evenly spaced.  You have skills. BTW have you ever watched "Monk"? Do you recognize yourself? I have some projects for you at my AZ house, FC. THe pay sucks but the riding is great.
    No offense Botched, but your wet sandals on egg beaters excuse is a tad weak. Did you go over solely for observation purposes, sort of like a designated driver for teeter riders? Even those who know you only from your posts here know that you are not going to stand by and watch everyone do it and not try it yourself. Having taken Psych 101 (UMass), my analysis indicates that you were setting yourself up with an excuse if you failed. This is bad Botched, seriously bad. You would have been better off going over in full kit with your just-overhauled rig and done an FC header into the grass. Sure we would have laughed at you, but at least we would RESPECT you. 

  5. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 10.7.2006 | 1:06 am

    Oh B21, that hurts.
    I couldn’t find my shoes because I accidently left them at work. I didn’t take a bike because out of 3 mt bikes, I had 3 flats. I didn’t take a helmet because my head is the safest place for me to fall. But seriously, if you take a header off Fatty’s teeter, you’ll need a neck brace, but not a helmet (at least when the teeter is in Fatty’s luscious lawn, which was wet and squishy). Uh, plus I just forgot the helmet.

  6. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 10.7.2006 | 1:46 am

    b21 – on behalf of my son and wife, who precisely pre-drilled those boards (my son’s a wizard with the drill press) so I could mindlessly drive the wood screws in with my power screwdriver, thanks!
    botched – hey, you showed up and rode the teeter. in the end, that’s what matters.
    mtbike w – hey, if you want to ride a teeter, i know where you can find a pretty darn good diagram to use to build one.
    anyone who lives in the utah county / slc area – hey, if you want to come try the teeter, just let me know. it’s fun.

  7. Comment by Andrew | 10.7.2006 | 2:26 am

    Do we live in a great country or what? Your teeter-totter is da bomb, both to build and then to ride.
    On Youtube about two videos down from yours, Spencerdogg accomplished the same thing by balancing a 2×6 on a chair and riding over it. But your device looks a lot better built.
    the weak link

  8. Comment by Unknown | 10.7.2006 | 4:49 am

    Hey fatty.  You were wanting ideas on what to build next, so i came up with something.  I even did it in sketchup.  However its really rough and looks horrible.  If you want it, my email is listed.  Its based off something i rode a few times and it was pretty cool.  Its a raised platform type of thing.  You really need to see it to understand.

  9. Comment by Carolynn | 10.7.2006 | 5:41 am

    All I can say is, "WOW !  "  Forget about my suggestion for a garden in your big yard, a carnival works out great.  And thanks for the gorgeous pictures of autumn in Alpine.  What a craftsman you turned out to be.

  10. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 10.7.2006 | 10:51 am

    Instead of making your 3 inch offset 4 inches, why didn’t you just move 6 inches in the other direction.  Because you were reversing everthing there would have been some minor problems to overcome but it would have worked perfectly as long as you used lefthand thread screws to put it together and the sun rose in the west.  Either that or you’d have to stand on your head as you ride over it, or moving it to the southern hemisphere should also have fixed the problem.
    Al and I on a tandem.  I’ll take that $50.  Actually, I’d love to give it a go.  I just need a sponsor for the plane ticket.  And the tandem.  And the ambulance ride afterwards.  If you’re looking for a way to justify paying for me to visit, I could mow that lawn for you.  It’s looking a bit jungly.  Oops, sorry, I just saw the photo where you used the purposely-left-long grass to minimise medical expenses.  Good job.
    The best advice I can give about putting the teeter in the park is that you delete all evidence of your association with this device before it becomes public property.  You can’t afford the legal costs (Bill Gates can’t afford the legal costs).

  11. Comment by barry1021 | 10.7.2006 | 1:27 pm

    Oh Botched, dear Botched,
    this keeps getting worse by the minute. Now we know that your one mountain bike was not damaged by your courageous but ill conceived attempt at some ridiculous technical jump, but rather all THREE of your bikes have itty bitty holes in the tubes. And then you mention "work" in your next sentence, an inexcusable faux pas. THe pictures clearly indicate that you are basically whole, no punctured lungs or massive ligament tears of any kind. In two posts, you have basically neutralized all the good things Fatty has said about you in two months (not that we believed much of it anyway. We know that FC is only being nice to people to expand his blog and get more free stuff–when he looks at you he doesnt see Botched the Man, but his next dura ace equipped all carbon roadster). So as someone who cares about you, here is what you need to do–you must ride a course of great danger and risk immediately, putting life and limb in jeopardy. I cannot give more specifics, but clearly blood and much vomiting should be involved. Report back. Please Hurry.

  12. Comment by Unknown | 10.7.2006 | 8:00 pm

    was this an art project also? contrasting color on the bottom of the base?
    me thinks you shoulda used pressure treated wood for the whole thing. oh well, what’s a little wood rot among friends?
    build another just like it and put it approx. 3 feet after the finish of the first one. heck, make it four in a row, i smell bike-a-coaster. color me jealous.
    looks cool.

  13. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 10.8.2006 | 1:55 am

    weak link – i watched spencerdogg’s video at least three times. that kid (he looks like he’s maybe 10) is amazing. you can bet he’s going to be doing much crazier stuff 5 years from now.
    no name – yeah, definitely email me (eldennelson@hotmail.com) your idea. i’d love to see it!
    mom – oh, go on.
    big mike – lessee: you criticized my pivot placement, lawn, and judgment in creating this thing altogether, all in one comment. you are one cranky mail carrier, dude. "disgruntled" might be a good descriptor, in fact. hmmm. suddenly, i’m really glad you’re in australia, and nowhere near utah.
    b21 – well, in botched’s defense, he does have a newborn infant, a high-stress job, is working on his doctorate, and has only 1.5 lungs. oh, and he can shoot lasers out of his eyes, too, so watch yourself.
    bikemike – when i was wood shopping i considered going with pressure-treated wood for the whole thing, but finances stopped me. i spent ~$200 on this as is and plan to give it away. my inner skinflint wouldn’t let me spend even more on wood. so i went with the treated stuff on the base and called it good. a reasonable compromise, no? i love the idea of a series of teeters, or maybe of chaining together a number of different stunts.

  14. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 10.8.2006 | 11:09 am

    That’s extreme paranoia right there.
    Item 1 was a alternative suggestion for working around the knot hole you found.
    Item 2 was the manifestation of my jealousy at your lush lawn because mine is either dusty or parched or sprouting a dozen varieties of weeds.  And maybe you’d spring for my plane ticket if you thought you’d get your lawn cut for nothing.
    Item 3 was a suggestion to help avoid litigation when some incompetent fool falls off and hurts themselves.  The idea is great – there just needs to be a pre-requisite skills test before gaining access to the device to avoid injuries, especially when you take the teeter away from your lush lawn and plant it on the hard packed clay on one of the local MTB trails or parks.
    See, all harmless.  I luvs ya, man.
    With all that said, yes I’m disgruntled.  But that has it’s foundation in the fact that I haven’t been able to ride my bike for 8 straight days.  8 freaking days.  You’ve got a perfectly good teeter there but it’s me who’s teetering… on the ragged edge.

  15. Comment by Unknown | 10.8.2006 | 3:44 pm

    I suppose due to budget constraints, Teeter 2.0 wont be constructed w/ titanium and carbon fiber. Now that would be da bomb. BTW,  great video. Now, back to my drywall-in-the new bathroom project.

  16. Comment by barry1021 | 10.8.2006 | 9:19 pm

    Wow a "F-I-D" for Botched? Dr Botched? I had no idea. And on 1.5 lungs? THat may be the highest education/lung capacity ratio in all of Bikedom. OK Botched you can skip the blood and vomiting thing.  Unless I am being set up by FC so he can get more free stuff……LOL

  17. Comment by Katie | 10.8.2006 | 11:41 pm

    It held up??
    My hats off to you, I honestly thought that it would come crashing down pretty quickly. Although in fairness to you Fatty, pPerhaps that is just years and years of watching my Dad build stuff…
    Since you seem to have mastered teeters – why not try and build a vert ramp and try a new cycling challenge. That’s something I’D pay $50 to see. :)

  18. Comment by cawddup | 10.9.2006 | 10:02 am

    I like it. However, you could have saved yourself quite a bit of work if you’d done it like wee Spencer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMl2jS0Y6Eg&NR

  19. Comment by Unknown | 10.9.2006 | 4:03 pm

    In the tall video I hear an exclamation at the very end and a quick neck jerk is seen, as if something happened out of view….can you elaborate, Fatty?

    Also, only one of the three videos gives me a even partial look at the teeter returning to the "ready" position…can you post one up that has that in the video, or tell us adoring fans about how that part of the teeter works?

    Thanks…you should have a nice serving of tiramisu with oreos to reward yourself for building such a cool thing.

  20. Comment by Baby Blue in Texas | 10.9.2006 | 5:53 pm

    I think I big "woohoo" goes out to you AND your helpers (your wife and son)!  Job well done!
    Looked scary.  Wouldn’t want to try it though as I’ll stick with horse jumping.  And you have to give Botched a thumbs up for attempting it with a borrowed bike in sandals (but ditch the socks!) without a helmet (or neckbrace as he so put it) due to, I’m sure, the lack of sleep, sex and brain cells that a new baby destroys.  I think he did a bang up job under these conditions.  Leave him alone already B21.
    And Mike, you would have no probs going over it (it may just come down a little sooner for you is all).  Riding the terrain in Australia must give you an advantage over us over here in pure civilization.  Can’t spring for the ticket to help you prove it but will stand by this statement till it’s disproved.
    Fatty, you and your buds all looked good going over it, even looked good falling off it.  You do that with grace and that must come easy to you but is something that usuallly takes a lot of practice.  Good luck finding somewhere to install it.  I would call the local commissioner’s office as they can usually point you in the right direction for anything.
    Good luck and good job,

  21. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 10.9.2006 | 6:35 pm

    DP Cowboy, the outburst you hear at the end of one of the clips is Gary (Fatty’s recycled friend and neighbor) spontaneously orgasming due to the joy that the teeter brings.

  22. Comment by Tim D | 10.9.2006 | 6:49 pm

    I suggested to my wife that I build one of these.  She said "Tell you what, I’ll break your arm now and save you the time and effort"

  23. Comment by Rocky | 10.10.2006 | 4:24 pm

    I think, as per Rick M’s suggestion, that Brad or Kenny should load the thing onto a trailer to haul it to Fallmoab.  Maybe the hotel would not mind if it were temporarily located in the courtyard.  You know, for pre- and post-ride entertainment.  Botched has to promise to ride it backwards, though.
    Nice work Fatty!

  24. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 10.10.2006 | 4:42 pm

    OOHH, Rocky! I can’t wait to start reading your blog again!!!
    If the teeter goes to Moab, I’m buying a life/disablement insurance policy on each attendee. I’m going to make a fortune on Fall Moab ‘06. Please stress the "Fall" part.


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