Coaching Corner: Building Your Own Barriers

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by Molly Hurford

15 minutes and 15 dollars is all you need to build a set of practice barriers. © Molly Hurford

15 minutes and 15 dollars is all you need to build a set of practice barriers. © Molly Hurford

Was your New Year’s Resolution to practice your cyclocross skills? Are you and some friends planning to spend a few days this summer working on your cornering and barriers? Did you forget to pick up a Father’s Day present? If any of those ring true, you should check out CrossPropz, the collapsible practice barriers, or if you’re feeling crafty, build a pair yourself!

Building a set of collapsible barriers with PVC pipe is a piece of cake. If you’ve ever attending a cyclocross practice session, you probably have seen a set of PVC barriers erected. For one thing, they’re incredibly easy to break down and set up. An added bonus is that if a newer, more unsteady rider crashes into them (or if a seasoned pro comes in too hot and crashes into them), it won’t really hurt anything but his or her pride.

However, PVC barriers shouldn’t be reserved for the one night a week when you attend a local practice session. Rather, you should have them handy for practice whenever you feel the need to work on technique (and at the beginning, that might be a lot). If you have a big backyard, set up barriers there. If you don’t, find a nearby field or park to set up in, just make sure you aren’t trampling nicely manicured soccer fields! (And no, riding through a baseball diamond doesn’t count as training for the sand pit. It’s just rude.)

Parts:

  • Two 10 foot lengths of PVC pipe (available at Home Depot or Lowes in the Plumbing aisle). A width of 1 and 1/4 inches is good, it’s sturdy without being bulky.
  • Four 90 degree Elbows (make sure they’re made for the same width as the PVC pipe (1 and 1/4 inches)
  • Four Slip T’s (again, make sure they’re the correct width)
  • 2 Joiners (if you want to make your barriers easy to transport
  • A PVC cutter, hacksaw or circular saw, and the appropriate safety goggles
  • Tape measure

Caution: building these barriers does involve the use of saws, so be careful and take every safety precaution.

Building the Barriers:

  1. First, measure out where you need to cut:
    On the first ten foot piece, divide it into two pieces, five feet long each.
    On the second piece, divide it into 12 ten inch increments.

    Make four legs like this.  © Molly Hurford

    Make four legs like this. © Molly Hurford

  2. Then, carefully using your sawing method of choice, cut the pieces at the points you marked.
  3. Assemble four sets of legs, using three of the ten inch pieces joined together with a Slip T (see picture). (Alternatively, get creative and save PVC by making an upside down V-shape.)
  4. Put the four elbow pieces on the ends of the long pieces that you’ve cut.
  5. Then, simply attach the legs to the longer pieces.
  6. If you want to make the barriers easy to transport, you can cut the long pieces in half and use the joiner pieces to put them back together. This makes the barriers small enough to fit in a large messenger bag, which makes them great for bringing to practice or, when you get tired of your backyard, a nearby park.
  7. Practice, practice, practice! Even if you don’t have a cyclocross bike (yet), you can practice on a road or mountain bike.

We promised cheap and easy barriers, and the final cost came in under $15 and the time (other than the shopping for PVC) was well under 15 minutes. Now, all you have to do is start practicing. Coming soon, we’ll show you how to take barriers and showcase how different pros suggest learning how to take them. You’ll be hitting them at full speed in no time!

If you’re not the DIY-type, or you want a sturdier set that will snap back no matter how hard you crash into them, check out CrossPropz Portable Cyclocross Barriers. We recently reviewed them and they’re great and ultra-transportable.

 

 

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13 comments
FULLGAS247
FULLGAS247

Is that my boy George sprinting over the barriers?

aj2271
aj2271

Got mine made today. Bring on the practice!

Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur

That is a killer idea! I can't wait to build my set up. I think I'm going to mass produce these and sell them. Anyone interested?

Topher Fox
Topher Fox

I made a similar set last year, and think they work great (cost $12 for two barriers). I have not had any issues with "falling apart." I just lash all the pipes together and ride to local park. I did find it helpful to glue the joiner to ONE pipe, as I they can fall off when riding to your destination (I may try the messenger bad idea listed in the article).

Dan O
Dan O

Fantastic! I'll be constructing a set of these for the yard soon. Thanks for the article.

Chris
Chris

These are also great for younger crossers. Last year my seven year old had a hard time getting over regular sized barriers. Cut the uprights alittle shorter and he was in good shape. What I didn't tell him was after a week, I would put in a taller upright and before you he knew it he was having no problem with the regular height.

Tim
Tim

PVC barriers are nice and portable, but for me I need to practice with a solid plank to get the most out of it. The empty space of a PVC barrier just ain't the same to my eyes and brain.

ikitus
ikitus

you can also make the legs L-shaped instead of upside down T.

point the lower bit in the direction you are running from. This way, should you accidentally hit the barrier, it just tips over instead of breaking

Cross Propz
Cross Propz

Once built you have a set of barriers that will come apart when hit, or worse, not come apart when you want them to. Cross Propz has taken all the hassle out of portable barriers, plus they self-assemble and come in their own bag. On sale now 3 for $100. Get your season started! www.crosspropz.com

xavier
xavier

Good idea! Thanks

tim
tim

Oh, Cross Propz. Though your barriers may hold up to abuse better than the DIY alternative, they are also significantly more expensive. When you're looking for a cheap, resourceful alternative, there are obvious compromises in the results. And anyway, I'd almost prefer my barriers to come apart if I hit them. It would be an added incentive to practice more and be smooth so I wouldn't have to spend time fixing them!

All joking aside, please don't bash DIY projects just because they conflict with your business model.

crosspropz
crosspropz

Don't mistake my comments as bashing your alternative. I have been thru the process. the result being Cross Propz. Cross Propz give, but do not come apart, fold into their own carry bag (under 24") and weigh 2.2 lbs. they are designed to help people learn this art. If you do happen to hit them, you don't have to stop and repair , they spring back into shape w/o hurting you. I came to this idea while practicing with the barriers you have shown. Yes, a little more money, but all the hassle is gone.

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