Riders often remark to me that they just can’t seem to get up the nerve to hit jumps fast enough to clear them properly. When I work with these riders, I often find that they have plenty of speed but are just not committing fully to the jump and are in fact often backing away slightly at the last moment. One of my favorite exercises with students is to have them slow down and move into the jump with more conviction at a speed which is truly comfortable for them. In essence, jumping well is all about accelerating into the jump to get proper distance as well as stable air time. Perhaps the most common fear based response among riders is to back away when things get challenging. By slowing down, we combat this, and actually signal our brain to speed up or make the most of the jump by ‘stepping into it’. In terms of the way our body works, this involves driving the knee caps toward the jump lip and firming our quad muscles. This action puts us more over our legs and puts more weight down through the bottom bracket and into evenly loading our suspension. The common term for this is pre-loading. Pre-loading is best done when we are travelling at a speed which makes us comfortable and relaxed with the jump we are hitting. Go out and give this a try on a jump you are already comfortable with. Riding into jumps with acceleration should add a whole new dimension of control to your riding.
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