Riding the skinnies at Dan Funke’s back yard MTB playground

Dan Funke's back yard MTB playground Dan Funke's back yard MTB playground
Back in late March in a MORC forum discussion titled How to ride a skinny raised platform/bridge, Dan Funke posted a comment with photos (above) of the obstacles he built in his back yard in Cannon Falls, inviting me to come play some time.

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Earlier this week, after Dan gave me a tour of the fabulous trails at Red Wing’s Memorial Park, I got to play in his back yard.  What a hoot. Like having a bit of Ray’s MTB Indoor Park right out your back door. A double teeter-totter even.

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I had no trouble riding this narrow round log (left photo, above) when using the little cheater ramp. But going the other direction (center) was a quite a bit tougher because of the abrupt edge to the log. It’s definitely a plus to have soft green grass to land on when crashing (right).

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After more than a few tries, I finally nailed it and Dan happened to capture it in this photo sequence.  A small manual is required to get the front wheel up on the log, then a little unweighting of the rear wheel to help it gently roll up the face of the log. If the rear wheel hits the log too hard, it makes more difficult to keep your balance once you get up on the log.  Then it’s a matter of pedaling the rest of the way with a singular focus on leaning the bike to stay straight, keeping your eyes way ahead. If you succumb to steering instead of leaning, you’re hosed.

Dan’s already scheming on more obstacles to build. I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, though, next time I’m there, I plan to practice wheelie drops off the side of the stacked logs and the high planks. Why? Because of this great advice by “guest_s” posted to the forum discussion here:

If a skinny is any higher than 1 foot or so off the ground, don’t try it if you can’t bunny hop or wheelie drop. Learn those two things first so when you do feel you will slip or fall off the side, just bunnyhop or wheelie drop and ride away. If you can’t do this, you will endo (go over the bars) if your front wheel comes off…..and endoing is about the most unsafe thing to do.

Once I learn that, I’ll feel more confident riding the 3-4 ft high skinny at Murphy-Hanrehan.

High skinny at Murphy-Hanrehan MTB. Photo by Ryan Lieske


  1. syklystt said:

    very cool….Im an avid rider of skinnys…adn like you said..you need to learn how to get off these things the right way…another thing I have found is that if you stay back behind the seat(standing of course) you can keep the front from falling off easier adn be able to wheelie/manual off…when folks fall off a skinny and are seated or forward on their bike….the front wheel drops down and in..this makes you get slung by the pivot (either front wheel or where bike hits skinney or something)..then your face hits the ground and your still holding the handlebars…its quite a smashing thing that I’ve seen many people do…..GET BACK!
    love those skinneys you built!

    November 9, 2012
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey syklystt, thanks for the tip. Makes a lot of sense to stay behind the seat. This just got easier for me, as I sawed off my seat post about 1.5 inches so that the seat completely drops out of the way when I lower it.

    And just to be clear, those fun skinnies in the photos above were built by Dan Funke, not me.

    November 10, 2012

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