If you are sad that the season is over and Arapahoe Basin is now closed (they closed on June 22nd), grab your bike to head to the dirt. Many ski areas are building what they call "flow" trails. Think of these trails as the "terrain parks" of the mountain bike world. Complete with wooden features, dirt jumps like table tops, step-ups, and step-downs, these "flow" trails give you similar sensations to skiing and snowboarding during the summer months.
One of the most common jumps in ski area "bike parks" are called table tops. This is because when viewed from the side, they have a flat area that looks like a table. Riders get air to "clear" the table.
If you have ever "ghost ridden" a bike over a jump, as soon as the front wheel leaves the ground, all the force is acting on the rear wheel. This causes the bike to begin to rotate or do a front flip over the jump. We want to counter act this and here are three tips to help you successfully clear your first table top jump:
- Crouch. When coming into the jump, get lower and bend your knees slightly more than you normally do. This helps to load the suspension of your bike and set you up for the correct take-off.
- Press. As you head up the ramp or the take-off of the jump, extend your legs and press all your weight through your pedals. This will help you avoid that front flipping tendency discussed above and often referred to as the "dead sailor" rotation.
- Release. Once your front wheel gets approximately 6 inches away from the leaving the lip of the jump, begin to absorb by allowing your knees to bend. Also allow the bike to come up into your body. This changes the trajectory from up to leveling out the bike so you can land successfully. Try to land with the front wheel touching down slightly (millisecond) before the rear wheel.
What goes up, must come down. As you crouch, press, and release during the take-off, don't forget to put the landing gear down. In other words, as you release and allow the bike to come into your body, when you are ready to land extend your legs and put the bike down to the ground.
Follow these simple tips the next time you are out hitting some jumps.