For Women

7 Steps to (Mini) Air Success

February 9, 2015

by Mea­gan Broughton

Jan­u­ary 31st and Feb­ru­ary 1st 2015 marked the 4th annu­al Women’s Week­end at Joyride 150 Indoor Bike Park in Markham, Ontario Canada.

On my radar since its incep­tion, this was the first year I was able to final­ly attend. I was pumped.

With a line up of the most tal­ent­ed female ath­letes and coach­es this area has to offer (Amelia Walsh — Cana­di­an Nation­al BMX Team Mem­ber, Kris­ten Court­ney — Cana­di­an World Cup DH Rac­er, and Hol­ly McLean, Trek Women Ambas­sador, XC Rac­er and one of the coolest Mom’s around — to name a few), I made sure to have a spe­cif­ic goal in mind, tak­ing advan­tage of the know-how these wicked-good female shred­ders were there to share.


More specif­i­cal­ly, air­ing through the begin­ner jump line.

But how?

Although every­thing came togeth­er that week­end with some stand out AH-HA! moments from my new friends (and killer rid­ers) Amelia and Rachel, I also have to give some cred­it to the last few years of prac­tice and progress work­ing on spe­cif­ic skills.


Flat Ped­als
Like many XC rid­ers, we get very reliant on our cli­p­less ped­al sys­tem, using the fact that our feet are attached to our bike as a means of lift­ing our bike off the ground. I am guilty of this. Sure, it works, but we are teach­ing our­selves inef­fi­cient habits. I encour­age you to go back to the basics by spend­ing some time back on the flats, before you start hit­ting jumps. (Shin guards strong­ly recommended).

Pump Track
The body move­ments used in a pump track are iden­ti­cal to what needs to hap­pen in a mini jump line. The idea is to ride the entire pump track with zero ped­al­ing (I aim for 2 sol­id ped­al strokes while drop­ping in), using the pumps from each roller, to shoot you up the next. The idea is to suck the bike up the roller (flex­ion) with your arms and legs, and push the bike down the back­side of the roller (exten­sion) with your arms and legs. The pres­sure built while exe­cut­ing this move­ment is what gives you momen­tum for the rollers to come. The motion is very dynam­ic. You are essen­tial­ly doing squats while rid­ing a bike. Sure beats out any gym work­out I’ve done.

If you are brand spank­ing new to get­ting air on a bike, I high­ly rec­om­mend sim­ply coast­ing off a very small fea­ture with no lip, like a curb. Coast­ing means to essen­tial­ly do noth­ing, and let the fea­ture do the work.   Each hit, increase your speed if efforts to land 2 wheels at a time. 

Push Down/Roll For­ward
The first time I hit up Joyride, I hired pro­fes­sion­al cycling coach and old friend Adam Mor­ka to show me the ropes. With con­fi­dence instilled from this ses­sion, we end­ed my day at the foam pit. Yes, a vert jump you hit with a land­ing made out of foam. Like any good coach, he gave me one thing to focus on (although I am sure I could have worked on many!): throw­ing the bike forward/down with my arms. He gave me the anal­o­gy of rid­ing a motor­cy­cle, and pre­tend­ing I was giv­ing each hand grip gas by rotat­ing my wrists forward/down. With only one thing to focus on, I exe­cut­ed, and land­ed my fat­est air to date on both wheels even­ly — albeit into foam. When hit­ting a fea­ture that kicks you up (as opposed to for­ward like coast­ing off a curb), I would soon learn this skill to be invaluable.

Roll it
Once I had put a sea­son into prac­tic­ing the above, it was time to start nar­row­ing in on real jumps, built with a lip and the inten­tion of air­ing. With access to Joyride, the begin­ner jump line only made sense as the next step. First, roll the jump line a num­ber of times as if it were a pump track. Get the feel of it. Under­stand what speed you need to get up and over each jump.

Tim­ing and Coör­di­na­tion
In com­bi­na­tion with the flex­ion and exten­sion learned on the pump track, it is time to add some tim­ing and coör­di­na­tion into your jump line. While flex­ing your body up the first jump, extend your legs almost straight as your front wheel hits the lip of the jump. Air­borne and extend­ed, spot your land­ing and begin to flex your legs as your wheels touch the ground, absorb­ing the impact of the air. Con­tin­ue this motion up and over every jump in the line.

Eas­i­er said than done and a work in progress for me. It’s not some­thing you can teach. It’s a feel­ing. Sep­a­rat­ing the élite from the every­day, flow and grace is what beams from their rid­ing. No one move­ment is forced, or jolt­ed. Their line just flows as if no effort is being made. Each move­ment tran­si­tion­ing flaw­less­ly into the next. This comes with time, ded­i­ca­tion and feel —  a com­mit­ment I am will­ing to make!

Watch one of my many attempts on the begin­ner jump line at the Joyride Wom­en’s Weekend ===»

Set up:  Arms and legs flexed, eyes spot­ting the lip of the jump. 
Pop:  Extend your legs as your front wheel hits the lip.   (This was a game-chang­er for me. Thanks again Amelia!)
Air:  Spot your land­ing and begin to flex your legs prepar­ing to absorb your landing. 
Land­ing:   Roll wrists for­ward and push the bars down.  Con­tin­ue to flex  your legs while absorb­ing the impact of the land­ing, with both wheels touch­ing down simul­ta­ne­ous­ly.   Extend down the back side of the jump, prepar­ing to repeat all of the above for the next hit in the line. 
One of the best parts of the entire week­end — giv­ing away the Grand Prize of a Sacred Rides trip to one lucky women.

Con­grat­u­la­tions Christi­na Alsop, see you at our wom­en’s-only  Fer­nie Thrills and Skills Week­end  Get­away   — prac­tic­ing airs, big or mini 🙂