How to Jump Off an Obstacle
By Beth Puliti
Evaluate the Jump
When on the trail, especially trails built specifically for mountain biking, you may come across jumps, rock piles or other obstacles that can offer an added challenge to your ride. Most jumps and other manmade trail features will usually offer an alternative route around. Before launching yourself off anything, it is best to first take this redirected route so you can evaluate the obstacle and landing area.
Choose your Line
After you have evaluated the obstacle, you will be able to determine the best line of approach to jump off. For trail features like rock jumps you want your tires to leave the obstacle at the furthest point possible, in this case the center tip of the rock. This will prevent your rear wheel from making contact with any other part of the obstacle as you descend back to the trail.
Prepare for Takeoff
You should approach the jump at a moderate speed with your gearing in the middle chain ring up front and the middle chain ring in the back. Keep your dominate foot forward and slightly above level so you can use a half pedal stroke to propel you off the jump just as your front tire approaches the edge.
Use your Upper Body
As you use a half pedal stroke to propel off the edge of the jump, simultaneously lift the front end of your bike by pulling up on your handlebars. How high you lift your bike is dependent on how fast you are going and how big the jump/drop is. For a small obstacle like this rock pile, it will only take a slight upward pull on the bars. Be sure to also have a finger ready on the brakes to control your speed and slow you down after landing.
Control your Landing
Being in the air the first few times will feel weird. That’s normal. Just make sure to keep your body loose with your knees and arms bent to absorb the landing. You can maneuver the bike up or down if necessary on your way back to the trail. Following the five steps mentioned will help ensure you land with both wheels flat on the ground.
Evaluate the obstacle and make sure it is safe before attempting.
Know your line before you hit the obstacle and control your speed.
Push & Pull. Use your dominant foot to launch forward and your upper body to pull up as your front tire approaches the edge of the jump.
Timing is everything when it comes to the tires leaving the ground, especially at slower speeds and off higher obstacles. Keep working on the motions until timing your jumps becomes second nature.