Earlier this month, I conducted a video interview with her. The topics were the same as her online appearance: dealing with fear; and learning to jump. (I goofed on the recording, neglecting to recording the audio of my questions for her so it’s taken me a while to patch things together.)
MTB FEARS – VIDEO Q&A WITH MTB COACH ELAINE BOTHE, PART 1:
LEARNING TO JUMP – VIDEO Q&A WITH MTB COACH ELAINE BOTHE, PART 2:
Jed Olson was one of a dozen or more Minnesotans who made the trip to Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee for the IMBA members weekend. I hadn’t met Jed before but had seen his postings in the MORC forum and was bummed when I couldn’t make it to the Gravity Summit he hosted in Red Wing last fall. (Above left photo: I’m using a ‘dad’ photo from his Facebook profile because, duh, I neglected to get a photo of his face at Ray’s.)
As you can see from my photo and the 19-second video clip of Jed above, he knows how to ride. So when I saw him with his buddy at the Micro Rhythm track at Ray’s, I asked him to critique my form. He said I was pumping the rollers just fine but when I got to a tabletop, it looked to him like I was trying some kind of jumping or bunny hop motion. He told me to just ride the table top with the same motion as I was riding a roller, like it’s round going up, round on top (but in the air), round going down. (Those aren’t his words, just my best recollection.)
I rode the track once and immediately felt the difference. I think I said "Wow" but I was actually thinking "Holy fucking shit." After a few more times, Jed said, "You got it." He said I just needed a little more speed. And sure enough, by mid-afternoon I was able to clear the lips of all three of the table tops on the back stretch of the Micro Rhythm track.
I’ve watched many how-to-jump videos (BikeSkills.com example here) and I’ve read and re-read the section on jumping in the book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack (I blogged it here). So it was more than a little amazing to have Jed diagnose what I was doing wrong and prescribe a fix in one sentence. I guess that’s what good coaches can do.
My whole weekend at Ray’s was memorable but learning a new skill was not something I expected. I’m psyched to tackle the table top jumps at Lebanon Hills (photo here). And I now have the confidence to work my way up to where I can handle some of the bigger jumps at other area MTB parks. Copper Harbor, here I come.
Along with the upgrades to the cross country course, there is an out-and-back Micro Rhythm track which is a great place for people to get comfortable with how a jump line feels. Built with an out-and-back design, the track features several boxes and jumps. Instead of a bermed turn at the end of the outbound rhythm line, there is a platform that allows the rider to reset themselves if they hadn’t been able to get in sync with the course before attempting the inbound line. Personally I had trouble getting back in sync once interrupted by the platform, something that I had issues with on the out-and-back in Cleveland as well. But, I understand the idea behind the exclusion of a bermed turn.
Indeed. Having that platform instead of a bermed turn made a huge difference, for me and from what I could tell, many others.
I was at the Eagan Pump and Jump Park last Wednesday for the first time in many weeks. I went straight to the beginner jumps and couldn’t do anything. I spent the next 20 minutes on the beginner pump track, got the hang of it again, THEN went back to the jumps and VOILA! I actually got close to clearing a couple of the table tops. Nothing that would be visible to anyone else but the difference in how I felt going over them was huge.
When I got home, I grabbed the book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack (first recommended to me by Chance Glasford) and re-read Chapter 9: Jump With the Greatest of Ease.
When I first read that chapter (months ago, before I had any real interest in learning to jump), this sentence stood out (page 144):
If you can’t hop a curb, you have no business jumping.
But on pages 140-141 of the book, there is a section titled Prerequisite Skills (“Before you take to the air, you must be smooth and consistent with these skills:”) and they list these five: 1) Attack position; 2) Hopping; 3) Dropping to flat and downslopes; 4) Pumping; and 5) Doing all this with flat pedals.
The blurb on hopping:
Hopping teaches you to load and unload your bike. The higher you can hop, the more boost you can get off jumps. It also teaches you flight skills.
The blurb on pumping:
Pumping is perhaps the holy grail of all riding skills. It teaches you to load and unload in time with the terrain, and it trains you to let your bike follow an arc while you stay centered over your pedals.
For some reason, it never got through my thick skull that hopping, pumping, and jumping were all connected via the ‘load and unload’ motion. But looking at my photos of Chance riding the pump tracks (more here), I can see it now.
The connection between pumping and jumping got permanently embedded into my brain/muscle memory last week. I’m now psyched to work at bringing bunny hopping into the mix.
Props to Chance (follow his blog here) for all the work he’s done on the Eagan Pump and Jump Park and for pestering me to buy the book, Mastering Mountain Bike Skills. FYI, that link to the book happens to have these three image excerpts of pages 143-145 from Chapter 9: Jump With the Greatest of Ease.