7 Steps to (Mini) Air Success

February 9th, 2015

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.

 

The Beginner Jump line was going to be mine. 

 

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.

 

7 STEPS TO (MINI) AIR SUCCESS:

 

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.

 

Coast
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 Coordination
In combination with the flexion and extension learned on the pump track, it is time to add some timing and coordination 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.

 

Flow
Easier said than done and a work in progress for me. It’s not something you can teach. It’s a feeling. Separating the elite 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!

 

 

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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 :) 

 

Like this post? CLICK HERE to join Meagan's Women's Mailing List,  full of mountain bike tips, recipe ideas, inspirational stories and plain ol' good times specifically for women