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  1. #1
    GMF
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    Help with jumping?

    I've been mountain biking on and off since '92, so i wouldn't consider myself a beginner, but there is one area that i've never really tackled and am a newb in - jumping. I figured this was a decent forum to post my question in.

    Historically for me, big jump = big crash. I've just chosen not to jump over stuff (even like little 1 foot airs). I would like to feel more comfortable in the air since i had a ride a little bit ago where there were a series of small jumps, which were fun in my "don't let the bike get too high" kind of way.

    How do you maintain control over your bike in the air? What are the important things to keep in mind as you are coming up to a jump, etc.? I'm not trying to go all Red Bull - just wanting to be safe as i keep my speed up over the big bumps (and maybe have a little extra fun).

    Thank you for any suggestions,
    -Damon

  2. #2
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    Start with small jumps to get down the technique.

    Always land on your back tire. You don't need to land at a 45degree angle.

    If you land out of control, or you need to hit your brakes upon landing, don't slam on the front brakes. It can lock up and you will wipe out because the front wheel needs to roll.

  3. #3
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    Same problem here, even after years of riding
    Better 2 ask 4 pardon than 2 ask for permission. Recall that nxt time U feel you have 2 ask ur wife if U can buy something

  4. #4
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    The issue for me is.. When i have my friends around, and we are on the trails.. I ALWAYS feel the need to over do a jump, and this has caused me to wipe out.. However, if i try to calm my hormones, i can land a decent height of a jump. maybe about 3-5feet high..

    Anyways, here is some advice, just practice pulling the front up, and just dont care about the rear wheel for awhile.. Practice Landing on the front with good balance. This was a big issue for me when i began, since my front would always twitch (due to my natural movement when trying to bunny hop), and cause me to land weirdly, throwing me off balance and fall off the bike. Once you get that down with no issue, then begin with trying to pop up that rear tire, AND BAM! Bunny hop!

    Anyways.... I maintain my bikes control in the air by trying to keep my self stiff as possible in the direction i want to go, meaning, that I will try to keep my body position the same as how i left a jump.. However, When you approach the landing spot, let your body become like Jello in a sense, and let the energy flow into the ground.. If you try to land it without letting your "energy" go into the ground, it throws your off, from my personal experience. So in short, just be ready to compensate from a very smooth track in the air, and whats next on the trail..

    As for my mind.. I try to picture myself doing a bunny hop like in a instruction manual..
    1. approach jump with good speed
    2. Position my self for a bunny hop
    3. get in position to actually do bunny hop
    4. focus on jump, visualize where and when to spring up
    5. jump up/off ramp or over obstacle
    6. woohoo im in air
    7. crap need to land
    8. bend knees and get ready for impact, and be prepared for the surface i will come in contact with next. (ex. Rough rocky trail, or Bumpy trail, or Smooth dirt surface)
    9. BOOMMM, chain whip, etc sounds when landing
    10. yay i landed

    Good luck man "thumbsup"

  5. #5
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    I just give it a lot of speed and figure it out as I leave the lip. I can squash the jump, scrub it, whip it, ollie it, and blow it... I more or less go with the flow and don't fight the bike. Staying centered and relatively loose on the bike tends to be the safest bet though.

    When I first started, I basically used the bunny hop (J hop, ollie, or whatever it's called, not the 2 wheel hop where both wheels come up simultaneously) technique until I felt more comfortable in the air. Once you become comfortable in the air and get better at absorbing landing impact to make landings smoother, you will naturally become looser and gradually throw more speed into it and then you can start throwing your bike and body around to do tricks. I prefer to land with both wheels simultaneously, whenever possible. It allows for smoother landings with more control and more momentum preserved.

    Whenever I see a newbie riding tensing up on a jump, it never looks pretty. Sometimes they make it out without falling, but it still makes me uneasy seeing it. No amount of advice really helps them though. I can say stay loose, and they'll tense up still.

    Determined practice is the way to go. Just repeatedly go off the jump over and over and you'll get a feel for it. Start small and give yourself room and always plan for worse case scenarios--make sure the jumps are in good shape, you have protection, and you have someone to tend to your broken body if you don't have adequate protection. Oh ya, watch out for the wind--even if you have a jump mastered, the wind has huge potential to throw you off. Try practicing at a bike park, if you have something like Mammoth Mtn, Whistler, or Trestle bike park nearby, since their jumps are much higher quality and are much safer and relatively easier, despite their size. I have no problem going off of 6' jumps at a bike park, going off of them as they come even if I've never ridden them before, but I still give 2-3' amateur-built jumps out on the trails suspicious looks, scoping out their condition, before going off of them.

  6. #6
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    my tip, load the bike by bringing your weight down on the pedals as your front tire hits the ramp. just before your bike takes off, bring your weight up by standing up on the pedals. keep your front wheel straight or starters. you dont have to pull on the bars.

    depending on the landing,

    land to flat, extend your legs to bring the rear wheels down.

    land on a slope, push down on the bars to bring your front wheel down.

  7. #7
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    Actually, I re-read your post and see your problem. Young guys have a huge advantage at learning how to jump, since they don't have all the things going in their mind that make them do a fatal error. Your worries about getting injured in a crash is what makes you crash. You tense up and that's the #1 fatal error in jumping. Trying to control the bike is also fairly bad. Going with the flow and adding input to adjust the flow is a better way to think of it. You're probably used to mental prep to handle stuff that you think is out of your league, but probably prepare yourself incorrectly by imagining the steps wrong.

    I think I would recommend not putting in any input at all except speed, and just staying loose and centered over the bike with knees and elbows bent and with little resistance. Just give it a lot of speed and get into position 1 second before hitting the jump and let the flow carry you. Don't try to think there's a technique to jumping. Just let the slope of the ground and bike carry you. When you loosen up to the point that your arms are taking a good deal of the landing force to the point your chest is up near your hands, you have successfully cleared the biggest block in jumping, which is being too tense. After that, just experiment by adding in movements. You can twist your handle bar or twist your hips, pull your knees up higher, tilt the bike, or have your knees bent, or throw your core up or sideways to boost, or whatever.

    Rhythm sections, where there's jump after jump, are really fun. See video of Recoil at Mammoth below for an easy well designed course. These guys don't get air like they do at X games and red bull, but they are clearing table tops without much effort. Keyword: not much effort. The speed and the jump usually does most of the work. You just need to land it smoothly so you can carry speed to the next. If you think you need to do something like a bunny hop for a boost to clear the jump, you simply aren't carrying enough speed into the jump to begin with. Leave out the bunny hop and practice giving it more speed without giving much input. Anything you do mid air is just for show, like tucking your legs to make it appear you're getting more air, and doesn't necessarily help and exhausts you more. Maybe it does help for some people, but I think your body does it subconsciously when you're simply following the flow and staying loose and centered.

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Yr7YpSemIYA?rel=0&amp;hd=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Also, 29er wheels affect jumps greatly, by making the take off slope seem smaller and the landing ramp seem less steep (less pump). I took one to Recoil and I would usually overshoot the first jump after a corner and that would leave me with less speed for the next. The momentum I retain from the corners going into a dip before a jump is a bit excessive. You need to get a feel for the speed you need for each of the jumps to clear them smoothly. Too fast is about as bad as too slow in this case.

  8. #8
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    Practice controlled "dead sailoring"............I also like to call this just "riding over" the jumps...

    1. Lower the seat on your bike all the way down.

    2. Approach the jump with your body low (i.e. attack position)

    3. Keep your elbows out and away (to prevent your strong arm from pulling the bike to the side)

    4. As soon as you hit the lip, shift your body backwards (this will shift your weight to the back, popping the front up). Don't lift the front, don't bunny hop...just ride off the jump. Try to land both wheels at the same time.


    In the second jump I actually landed too front-heavy.....but because the landing was down-sloping plus I had my body towards the back, you can actually land it in control without going OTB.....


    Last edited by osmarandsara; 10-31-2011 at 10:40 AM.

  9. #9
    GMF
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    Thanks for all the replies - I would have gotten to them sooner, except the whole 4-day Halloween extravaganza took way too much of my life.

    Anyway, those videos are helpful in illustrating what I am looking to do. The first (longer) video shows where i want to get to for the first minute and a half or so, and then the second half is just too much doing stuff in the air for me right now. The second shorter video is all i'm looking to do, really. The key difference from where i'm at now, is just that i want to do it comfortably. While a new term to me, it sounds like i am that dead sailor in the air, and need to learn how to liven it up a bit.

    Weird thing is that i used to ride North Shore stuff for several years, and could ride down all sorts of crazy stuff and attempted the occasional double black diamond (easy lines only, though). If it was anything more than a wheelie drop off a couple feet... not having it.

    Thanks to Mattlikestobike and Varaxis especially for the detailed replies. They are a bit contradictory to each other (matt says to stiffen up your body and varaxis says to stay flexy and fluid). The latter makes more sense to me, and ultimately i think i just need practice.

    A follow up question - if you feel the bike going left or right out from under you, how do you correct for that?

    Thanks for all the help - a lot to try and not think about on the trail

    -Damon

  10. #10
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    well what i meant by stiffening up your body, was to mean like, dont twitch your body or try to move it at all (side to side) when learning to bunny hop, especially when trying to land your bunny hop. Doing so, will cause you to throw yourself off balance, and cause learning to bunny hop a pain in the neck. This will make it harder to learn and land. And then just say flexy and fluid, rather than trying to fight what you want to land. Fighting it will cause you to try to do something weird, and be unable to correct it before landing, and bam, you ate some dirt.

    To correct side to side movement, you use your hips, and throw them out to one side or the other... but depends what you are intending to do.. if you are bunny hopping, in a straight line, and not wanting to turn, then you are doing something wrong.. If you are trying to swing the rear, then yes you re doing fine.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMF View Post
    A follow up question - if you feel the bike going left or right out from under you, how do you correct for that?
    That's normally caused by an unbalanced take off, with a bit too much weight on one side of the bike or the other. Stay centered and balanced upon take off, let the bike move under you, and that'll prevent it. Do the loose take off technique to train your muscles and your mind. Instead of pulling up like a bunnyhop, shift your hips back as if you're unweighting your wheel go over a fairly obstacle and let the jump pull your bike up for you. Keep 90% of your weight on your feet with your knees bent. If it wasn't already obvious, make sure your saddle is as low as possible.

    If you do notice it in the air, I dunno. I tend to just go with the flow and turn it into a trick. If it's turning right or left, I just turn that into a whip--maybe throwing my hips and cranking the handlebars has something to do with it. As long as you land with your front wheel pointing where you want to go, and don't panic and grab for the brakes (esp the front) you can normally ride out of all sorts of weird things in the air. Even if your back tire is practically sideways, having the front land at the same time with your front tire and body centered and pointing down the trail where you want to go, you can roll out of it.

    As part of preparations, maybe you should do some core building exercises. Most acrobatic control comes from the core and it helps with your riding in general. Legs power you and your core keeps you in control, notably the hips. Try doing some calisthenics at least, hopping to side to side by throwing your hips and making the rest of your body follow. I bet doing that before a ride will make you a bit more "hoppy" and wanting to jump over stuff laterally, like ruts, roots, and weeds.

  12. #12
    GMF
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    Fine suggestions everyone!

    Thanks,
    -Damon

  13. #13
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    I think it's worth asking what the jumps are like that you are trying to learn on. Trying to learn on the wrong kind of jump or trying to learn with a difficult to jump bike may not be doing you any favors. I will echo learning to bunny hop first, the movements will help you when jumping.

    Try posting in the section of the forum that is local to you and ask if there are any good jumps to learn on in your area. Ideally, you'd want some small tabletops that progressively get a bit larger as they go.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMF View Post
    I've been mountain biking on and off since '92, so i wouldn't consider myself a beginner, but there is one area that i've never really tackled and am a newb in - jumping. I figured this was a decent forum to post my question in.

    Historically for me, big jump = big crash. I've just chosen not to jump over stuff (even like little 1 foot airs). I would like to feel more comfortable in the air since i had a ride a little bit ago where there were a series of small jumps, which were fun in my "don't let the bike get too high" kind of way.

    How do you maintain control over your bike in the air? What are the important things to keep in mind as you are coming up to a jump, etc.? I'm not trying to go all Red Bull - just wanting to be safe as i keep my speed up over the big bumps (and maybe have a little extra fun).

    Thank you for any suggestions,
    -Damon
    Simplest way to learn...jump the bike on the flats no bumps nothing...weight the bike spring then land the bike....

    Take off on two tires land on two tires....then do it off a bump....take off on two wheels before the lip....land on two wheels....gotta go fast enough so the rear clears the lip though.

  15. #15
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    Those tips are awesome and the video of Mammoth looks super fun. Is it expensive for lift passes there? I haven't really traveled to much for riding yet just local places around my area in Orange County. I just started getting pretty serious about riding in the last year and am loving it so far.

  16. #16
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    Mammoth is like $45 for an all-day adult pass.
    Big Bear is $25 for an all-day pass, though the trails aren't groomed much at all. You're pretty much only paying for the lift service.

    Not sure if there's any other places close by, unless you count Northstar. It's much cooler up there at high altitude in the summer. Both are totally worth it. Mammoth's extra cost is more than offset by the sheer quality and large variety of trails. I'd love to spend a few days there at a time to make the drive worth it. I took up two beginners with me on my first and only trip to Mammoth, though they were college age and showed no fear, keeping up with me, despite my 1.5 years of experience.

  17. #17
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    Awesome info Varaxis Thanks alot. Hopefully this next season I will be able to get up to one of the those mountains maybe Mammoth for atleast 2 days and get the full experience. Thanks!

  18. #18
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    First, it's a cliche and already been said but.... if you think about crashing you will crash. Think about landing. Picture yourself doing the jump then do it. Sounds cheesy but that's what you want in your head!

    Other than that it's really all practice. Finding the right balance point so the bike lands how you want. I do tend to keep myself loose on the bike when in the air.
    --NC
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  19. #19
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    All good advice guys.

    I learned how to jump a bike at the same time I learned how to ride a bike back when I was like 5 or so. I don't remember how I learned, and by now it's just second nature, even after 10 years of not riding a bike, I still knew how to jump once I got back on. Though I was a little sketchy at first. I'm back in my comfort zone with it once again. Probably not a good thing as I remember when I was a teenager I was the one who wrecked ALL the time! Almost had the berries plucked once, but you don't wanna hear about that...
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  20. #20
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    Hit up a skate park.

  21. #21
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    [QUOTE=osmarandsara;8587264]Practice controlled "dead sailoring"............I also like to call this just "riding over" the jumps...



    3. Keep your elbows out and away (to prevent your strong arm from pulling the bike to the side)



    This is what I have a habit of doing but didn't realize what I was doing until I read it here. I'm left handed and have a tendency to veer to the right when I land sometimes. I need to remind myself to keep my arms loose and bent until I nose down for the landing. The best and smoothest jumping comes when relaxed.

  22. #22
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    Build yourself a ramp and spend a day doing this - nice safe fun. My friends and I filmed this when we were just starting out riding, now I can hit advanced trails and moderate xc jumps with some confidence.
    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ufnhlOpGY1g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

  23. #23
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    i wish i could read everyone's comment so i don't repeat it. but anyway i used to jump when i was younger (im only 20) and kind of stopped now. but what i've noticed from bmx~mtb, the seat height is what got me. when i go on downhill rides, i lower my seat, change suspension to fast rebound, etc. that helps me with jumps and bunny hops (i use clips anyway). so make sure you can actually do a bunny hop up/down curbs before you try a jump. and always work up to it. if you can get speed but not lift at the peak of the jump, try that and keep redoing it until you figure it out. you'll know.

  24. #24
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    I'm not a natural born jumper, either, so I feel you, but I've learned and gained confidence. My best advice is, go in to the jump w/ the right body position, and don't do anything!

    1) As you approach the jump, get your knees bent, butt back behind the seat. If you're going downhill, you're probably there anyway. Seat height is important -- if it's too high, you wont be able to get back where you need to be. Dropping my seat was the first step in getting comfortable in the air.

    2) Get speed right as you approach, and then let go of the brakes (I mean, grip the bars!). This was key for me. If I'm holding the levers, I'm unconsciously applying some brakes or doing something that always screwed me up. Not what you want as you're taking off or landing!

    3) As you take off w/ right body position, don't do anything! Don't pull or yank on the bars, don't do a pedal push-off, don't spring up and extend the knees like you're jumping on the ground. Just keep your form and let 'er ride.

    4) As per step 2, don't hit the brakes in the air or as you land (hence, keeping fingers wrapped around the bars until you're on the ground).

    As my brother explained it to me, jumping is like skiing powder (at least, good Utah powder). To ski powder, you just ski. If you're body is in the right position and you're applying good technique, you'll ski it just fine. Of course, poor form is magnified as well. At the resorts, you'll see people doing all sorts of crazy things on skis in powder -- leaning back, exaggerated jump turns, etc., and they're just flailing. But if your weighting and balance is right, there isn't that much to it.

    My "best" jumps are the same way -- I can't really even feel I'm off the ground, my wheels come down at the same time, and it is just smooth as silk. Using these techniques, I've worked up to 6' or so drops at the resorts and bike parks (which still freak me out), and don't have to even worry about smaller jumps and drops. I'll note that I far prefer drops and rolling jumps to ramps and cheese wedges, as the quick jolt before takeoff always seems to throw me off a little (again, I'm sure it is mostly mental, as I think I need to prepare for something!).

    Good luck!
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
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  25. #25
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    I started out like most on BMX bikes so jumping was common to do along with bunny hopping so I think for most people who did not start out with the small BMX bikes it could be a bit of a challenge. When I am going for a jump I try to be relaxed and pull back my body a bit, as someone mentioned a low seat height is helpful. The higher seat heights I see many riders use would not be ideal for jumping IMO but then again I would not jump with a seat up like that. The balance is crucial when jumping, landing on the front wheel is damaging to your bike and you, landing on the back wheel is ideal. I remember taking a head first when I did not have enough speed off of a drop, and also remember pulling back to much and landing on my back wheel on a wheelie with my weight shifted too far back, not a good deal of fun.

  26. #26
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    Oh, I forgot to mention, you gotta get out there and experiment, start off small.

  27. #27
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    I can echo the idea that if you are worried about crashing... you're more than likely too.
    I'm nursing a broken 5th rib, mild pneumo, and a lot of soreness on my left side from a small/med gap jump that I cleared the first time, but failed the second.

    I wasn't all that comfortable jumping this one to begin with, but pushed myself to do it anyway. I was alone out in the woods where people have dug several jumps of varying size.

    Starting small on a scale you aren't real scared of is pretty key to success I think... depending on how well you pick it up.
    There are loads of vid's out there showing preload, lifting off, the landing (depending on what type of landing you have in front of you).

    I found that being loose in the body/arms/hands, but in control of your body is better than all tense.
    I ride trails with waterbars and other features, and jump those all day long without issue, catching some decent air depending on their size, the slope and my speed.

    For me, the trouble comes with what I call my static jumps. Those jumps I'm sitting there looking at and planning to jump.
    The more nervous I am about it, the more I psych myself up for a crash.
    On my bad ones, when I approach the jump, my mind literally blanks out and I don't remember the take off or actual landing... just my body smacking against the ground.

    I advise wearing a fullface helmet, if you have one, anytime you are trying something out of your skill level.
    I work in the medical field and along with my own head-smacking crashes, I've seen and heard of some other bike crashes locally... one where a kid cracked his half-shell in a couple of places. I saw it... glad he had it on!
    I'm sure you already know this since you've mentioned riding North Shore stuff before.

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