Jumping- we all love it, and sometimes, we all hate it. Saying you can learn how to jump from watching a video is something I just don’t believe in, as every jump is different, and there are so many different ways of teaching this. That said- I wanna be very upfront- this is not a beginner HOW TO JUMP tutorial. This is oriented towards intermediate level or advanced riders. I’m assuming you’re comfortable with clearing most jumps on blue or black level trails, and are now ready to start working on better modulating those jumps.
Today we are going to discuss two different ways you can modulate a jump- either going for height, or for distance. Pumping is what we do at a pump track, it’s the motion of creating forward momentum by unweighting and then preloading the bike to use the undulations of the trail to our advantage. When it comes to jumping, you can tune in to any Friday Fails compilation to see an endless barrage of folks going nose heavy- and usually scratching up the ground with their face. You don’t want to do this!
When you’re jumping a mountain bike, you need to control your trajectory, and you do this by adjusting your pump on the take off. If you don’t pump at all, you’ll end up with the uncontrolled flighty- known as a dead sailer. While you do want to follow the natural curve dictated by a particular jump, finding that controlled arc really comes from the right amount of pump during the take off.
Before we go any further, I want to mention that it is absolutely critical to be approaching any jump with a very aggressive body position- be centered on the bike, and very low, via a deep bend in the knees and elbows.
To get distance, you’ll be pumping near the bottom of the lip, and pushing through the take off. You’ll find your body then needs to extend while airborne, exaggerating the bunnyhop motion. You’ll need to unweight your feet and nose the front wheel down about ⅔ of the way through your arc. Then position your bike as needed for the landing type.
To boost for maximum height, you’ll be pumping later on the take off, near the top of the lip. This means you’ll need to do more of an upper body pull back on the handlebars, as well as a sooner unweighting of the feet and push forwards on the bar. That’s right- you’re not so much pulling up as you are back. This turns all that take off energy into upwards trajectory. The leveling of the bike will be key in order to control the flight path.
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