The Secret Beginner - episode 3
I am learning to jump! During my last few rides, I have seen small gap jumps and very small rock drops on the Green (beginner) trails and I really want to be able to negotiate these obstacles properly. I did some research and decided that potentially I should enlist the help of a coach to improve my technique in a controlled and safe(ish) environment.
The Secret Beginner
IT. WAS. AMAZING. Getting both wheels off the ground is such a free feeling!I didn't really get a lot of air. Just in case you thought I had turned into Hannah Roberts or something. I went to an indoor BMX park and signed up for an hour of coaching. I arrived 45 minutes early just in case I had to fill out liability forms or something. It turns out these days you just click the box that says "I accept the terms and conditions". Accepting those terms meant I wasn't going to sue them for falling off and maiming myself. Once I had moved past that fact I was introduced to Cody. Cody was my instructor for an hour to teach me some jumping techniques. We chatted and I let Cody know that although my technique left a lot to be desired I was very enthusiastic. Cody said he could work with that. We went for a little roam around the whole place for a warm up. Riding a BMX felt really weird compared to a mountain bike. For a start they are quite a bit smaller. Secondly, when you sit on the seat you are so low to the ground you feel like you beat up a 10 year old and are now riding around on THEIR bike! I worked up the courage to go on the pump track part. It has a lot of bumps on it and a really steep banked turn. I nearly fell over due to lack of momentum on the bank turn, which then opened out onto a rhythm section and then onto the flat, smooth concrete of the floor. The track is about a meter wide, which should be plenty for a bike but somehow feels like I'm riding a bike along a gymnastics balance beam... Cody called me over and showed me three features right in the middle of the park. They were big and intimidating ramps. He told me he was going to teach me to bunny hop on the middle one! Needless to say I was skeptical. Regardless of my skepticism I dutifully followed Cody to the top of the ramp and listened patiently to his instructions. I tried to envision myself doing what he was asking of me.
"Pulling up on the handlebars", then "transferring my weight forward and pulling up the back of the bike"I must have looked confused as anything because Cody laughed at me and told me to just ride down the ramp and roll over the table top jump in the centre. The ramp we are at the top of suddenly looks a lot steeper than it did from the ground. I sit on the brakes the whole way and hardly have enough speed to make it to the top of the table top. No worries about getting any accidental air this time! I roll down the other side and sheepishly look back up at Cody. He tells me not to worry and to come up and try again with MORE SPEED this time. More speed hmmmm... Alright, I think to myself. I dare to roll slightly faster down the ramp, but I daren't peddle. I still touch the brakes slightly but I don't think Cody can see me. I pull up on the handle bars as I get to the top of the table top and get the front wheel off the ground, but not the back wheel yet. Cody tells me I'm doing well. I did do better that time, but not good enough. I do another 5 or 6 laps and get a bit better and a bit faster each time. Cody moves me on to the next type of jump. It has a bit of a steeper lip on it and I manage to get both wheels off the ground by about a centimetre! Improvement! Cody gives me some more tips and I practise and try and EVENTUALLY I get it! I can now lift my handle bars and then pull the back of the bike up and land on the down transition with my front wheel first. I'm ecstatic! Cody seems impressed too which I am really happy with... To be honest, it's a bit like learning to drive a manual car. It seems impossibly difficult to start with, but eventually you practise and practise and all of a sudden it doesn't seem that difficult anymore. Now I'm not saying by any means that I have cracked it. I've only just begun really. I do however feel like my bike control (albeit on a BMX which is a bit different) has gotten a lot better. I definitely recommend coaching if you are in a position to do it!