XC Mountain Bike Racing Advanced Skills: Jumping Instruction and Tips

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Mastering the Art Of Jumping

Here is a list of some common jumping mistakes people make when they jump. Granted this is an advanced article, and many of these mistakes are basic, but this article will hopefully be more useful in the advanced section, simply because beginners usually have a harder time jumping, if they didn’t grow up in BMX or out of the womb with a mountain bike under their diaper.

  1. A rider can’t visualize the jump in their head after they jumped, or clearly see the ground and surrounding because they closed their eyes for part or all of it.
  2. Too scared to relax and focus on form.
  3. The rider lets the front end of the bike dive down, because they don’t pull up on the handlebars so they can land on the rear tire first and then the front tire. The most classic example of this every, courtesy of a friend of mine.
  4. The opposite happens and the rider pulls up so hard on the front end, they land the jump with too much force upright on the rear tire, or loop the bike.
  5. jimmy-air

  6. The jump itself is simply not that great and causes the rider to land it flat / poorly.
  7. Poor body position. The rider is too upright, or perhaps to far over the front of the bike, or so far off the rear they practically fall off or hit the rear tire landing a small jump. You may hit the rear tire on a very big jump, depending on your suspension, the jump and of course the position of your body.
  8. Failed to correct for wind. Of course this still gets the best of us, and while the advanced jumper is aware of the wind factor and does their best to compensate, the newbie often doesn’t even understand the affects of wind, and countering them.
  9. Poor entry into the jump
  10. Failure to properly judge the speed required to clear the jump.
  11. Lack of confidence to attempt the jump to start with, or to try it again.

In the above list, one of these, always gets us, and some of them are just part of the nature of jumping. For example, you are not going to be able to necessarily always judge your entry speed perfectly. You are not always going to land perfectly. The wind may still catch you out.

Welcome to jumping! Simply put, you are going to crash sometimes, and if you are too scared to crash, then you may never jump anything.

It is also important to note, in a race, the jump isn’t always even the fastest racing line, but there are times when it is, and hitting jump will help you clear sections of the trail that would normally slow you down. On some more advance XC mountain biking race courses there is no “B” line / easier alternative, and you must jump.

Body Position

A picture says a thousands words, check out this rider. Notice his position.

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You will quickly discover that when you have the right body positioning, your ability to make the jump becomes much easier. Also there is mental process that takes over. When you set up your body in the proper jumping position, your brain starts performing all the processes / repetitive steps necessary to assist you on the jump. It guess it is kind of like pressing the “Jump Button” on you brains dashboard.

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Practicing

Important:Make sure your bike is in good working order, and that the bike can handle jumps. Jumping takes its toll on machinery (i.e. wheels, suspension, frames) and possibly your body as well if you crash, so always wear the proper protective gear.

Start small, and find a jump that launches you at the perfect angle without having to do much bike adjusting. On a small jump you can practice your form and body position, while using your feet on the pedals and your handlebars to adjust your position in the air.

Practice, have friends critique your form and of course video will help you to understand what you are actually doing when you jump if you don’t have a good grasp on it.

If you want to send us your links to your practice videos (shot by another rider, or set up on a tripod as a POV will not be helpful), we would be happy to critique your form and provide any pointers we can. Contact us.

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