In honor of the fact that I’m currently in Moab and getting to do lots of it, this week’s tip is about dropping. And no, I’m not talking about losing hold of things while you’re on a ride, although I am an expert at that. Water bottles, gels, glasses, even the occasional bike have all been dropped by yours truly. Not much fun. The other kind of dropping (riding off of things) is a lot of fun! And for the rest of this post, when I say drop, that’s the one I’m talking about.
So why would you want to drop something? Here are a few reasons:
- It’s faster
- You don’t have to stop and walk around it
- Your riding partners won’t make fun of you
- You can tell your friends that you “dropped this massive rock!”
- Everlasting fame and glory
Convinced? Good! Turns out it’s pretty easy to “do” a drop. All you do is aim towards the drop and pedal. But, before you try this, let me mention that this is pretty useless (and doesn’t get you everlasting fame and glory) unless you land it. Landing, unfortunately, is the hard part.
To “do” AND LAND a drop:
- Know your line. That may mean stopping and checking out the drop (and landing) the first time you ride it. That’s okay. Better to do that than to drop onto a really pointy rock.
- Come off the drop with a bit of speed. This keeps your front tire up and helps your tires hit the ground at the same time. Which is what you want.
- As you reach the edge of the drop, pull back on your handlebars. This also keeps your front tire up.
- Shift your weight back. For the same reason as numbers 2 and 3.
- Don’t close your eyes. It doesn’t help. Promise.
As you may have noticed, there is quite a bit of focus on getting your tires to hit the ground at the same time. It’s also okay if your back tire hits just before the front one. If your front tire hits first, you might still pull off the landing, but it significantly decreases your chances (proportionally to how much before the front tire hits).
To practice this, I recommend starting off with a 6-inch drop. That way if your front tire dives you probably won’t crash. Once both tires are hitting the ground at the same time, try a bigger drop. And then a bigger one. Next thing you know you’ll be heading out to Whistler to drop some 10-foot bridges. Just remember that the bigger the drop, the longer your front wheel has to stay in the air so you’ll need more speed and need to pull up harder on the handlebars.