Overcoming The Fear Of Jumping
Mountain biking is a physically demanding sport. Yet the mental demands tend to present some of the biggest roadblocks in progression. Where your skills would likely be sufficient to handle an intimidating feature, the fear of crashing holds you back from even trying. In coaching I have had countless opportunities to talk people through these fears and to provide direction for safe, sequential progression.
Jumps tend to be the number one fear among riders. To overcome the fear safely I always encourage riders to follow this progression: rollers, tables, roller doubles, then gaps.
The most basic skill behind jumping is pumping. Start by learning to ride through rollers—this activity teaches you to move the bike beneath you, to maintain balance while doing so, and to push against the forces of gravity (all key skills for jumping). We manufacture our own rollers to help you learn these skills at home. Here's a video of them in action.
After rollers come tables. These are jumps with a flat deck on top (no gap). See how you can create one with Yardi features by clicking here. This is a great next step, as you can practice pushing against the takeoff to jump into the air without the worry of any stipulations - no mandatory gap to clear, no minimum speeds to hit. Get comfortable actually jumping, not just going so fast that you soar to the backside. Practice staying in balance in the air. Tweak your body position to land at the same angle as the landing (vs one tire landing early).
Once you’ve mastered this, there is an intermediate style of jump that is commonly ignored - the roller double. This is essentially a gap jump but with a rollable transition in the middle. The recessed center helps your mind grow accustomed to the idea of a gap, but the rollable transition is forgiving enough that you can literally land in the middle without consequence.
Build up your speed and confidence by first landing in the middle. Next, aim to touch down with your front wheel on top of the landing, then to get your front tire into the backside of the landing. Eventually you’ll get your rear wheel on top and down into the backside (CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve cleared it!). Don’t be disheartened if this progression takes days or weeks. Work to get out of your comfort zone. Remember - you’re likely only a few feet off the ground and shouldn’t fall too far in the case of a crash. You got this!
You can create this style of intermediate jump using Yardi features like in this video, with a gap between the takeoff and flat platform. The helps strengthen you mentally, but the platform before the landing ensures you don't have to clear the jump fully (yet).
The last step before going for a similar sized jump with a true gap is to do some mental exercises. Ride your roller double for a day where you envision the jump having no middle. Pretend there’s a true gap instead of a rollable transition. Acclimate your mind to the idea that you can clear it regardless of what’s in the middle.
At this point, you are likely ready to hit a true gap.
But don’t just go for it!
Remember a few things: conjure up in your mind the balance and body position you learned while practicing on other jumps. Realize that this jump is likely no bigger than the tables you’ve already cleared - make sure you don’t change anything about your approach. Lastly, look at the jump and imagine a flat surface connecting the takeoff and landing.
Chances are it will look smaller and much easier. Keep this in mind to boost your confidence while learning to hit it.
And voila! You're jumping gaps! With Yardi Large Ramps you can set the gap up as long as you want, whether it's jumping from one Large Ramp to another, jumping into a grass landing, or even jumping over a car!
Still have questions? Drop them below in the comments and we'll get back to you!