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Jumping control and confidence? need help

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hey guys. Ive been riding dirtbikes for about 4 months worth of weekend riding. I rode quads for 4 years on trail and mx. When i go to the local track the beginner track has a little double. I go on that and i also go on the big table top on the expert track (when its empty). I was feeling pretty confident on my jumps up until this weekend when i let off the throttle too soon on the beginner double and nosedived and crashed.

I know why that happened and that was just stupidity. But the problem i realized i always had was that i never really have control when im jumping. 90% of the time i land perfect (10% i land a lil off, but havent crashed until now)but i feel that that is just because the bike is launching right. I dont feel IM launching right. INstead of me jumping the bike i feel like the bike is just jumping and im along for the ride. IT doesnt feel natural. I launch off the jump in the attack position and pretty balanced but i still dont feel like im balanced in a way that i can manipulate the bike in the air. I look at the guys gracefully flying over these huge doubles on teh expert track and they look like they have full control.

Are there any tips to getttin rid of this problem? i try to stay balanced on my feet but i have to put SOME weight on the bars because i am usually accelerating and i cant keep my balance while accelerating that hard.

I cant figure out how to control the bike instead of the bike control me. Even if i hit this little jump i cant keep a consistent landing. It seems like the bike goes however teh jump feels like popping me (nose high or nose low, or even) Even if "I" am balanced, i still dont feel like im one with the bike. I can be straight up, but for some reason the nose will drop. HOw do you make yourself land right? any help would be greatly appreciated.

and yes, i did a search.

I probably not explaining it too well but thats the best i can do.

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It does sound like you've been reading the balance threads. Have you tried the heel-lock trick? You can also briefly clamp your knees at takeoff it there is a kicker, but you shouldn't really need your knees or hands if your balance is centered against the acceleration and takeoff angle, and if you lock into the bottom of the bike with your heels.

Also, when you first start going around the track at the beginning of the day, do you start by rolling the jumps and gradually working your way out farther and farther with each lap? That's not always possible on sharp doubles, etc. But on tabletops, it really helps me get warmed up and get my balance tuned up right for the rest of the day. Even when you take the table a gear or two low and just barely get air, you should still feel the bike pick you up by just the pegs. It may feel a little silly jumping so short, but just take it easy the first few laps, and work up through the gears and out farther and farther gradually. After 2-3-4 laps if your balance feels good, then go ahead and start clearing everything (or whatever you're comfortable clearing, obviously).

Also try to remember to look ahead, and sight the landing as soon as possible. Don't get focused on the takeoff ramp and lip. If you can't visually see the landing, at least think about it and mentally visualize it as you take off. It's kind of a Zen thing almost -- sounds weird, but at takeoff all you're thinking about is balancing with the bike and the throttle against the takeoff ramp and acceleration.

The times I get it wrong lately (Shifter and I had a thread recently that talked about this) is when I get over-excited and try to go faster than my normal pace. I have to remember to focus real-time at takeoff on the balance thing, and not just use the same habitual balance point that I've used in the past on that jump when riding slower.

Anyway, hope some of that rambling helps. BTW, have you watched Gary's video on Jumping and Whoops? -Mike-

PS -- 4 months of riding is not a long time, dude. Heck, it took me a couple of (sometimes scary!) years of riding to luck into the balance thing for jumping, and then another 6 months of practicing to where I really feel cool in the air. Don't push it too fast -- stay reasonably safe, and the comfort in the air will come soon enough. :cry:

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First off, id like to thank you for such a long and thorough response. Let me also say taht i am in no way trying to push it or be a wild man. My friends know me to be one of the best when it comes to knowing my limits which is why this is my first real crash...and very unexpected. ANd i also dont bpush it because i go to school full time AND work full time...so i literally cant afford to get hurt. anyways, i know 4 months is not long however this is not my first four months of riding all together, but ever since the day i got my bike i felt natural on it. I spent hours just practicing technique and experimenting with things such as turning (power slide, lean angle of person and bike, weight distribution, etc) whoops, etc. Ive done an incredible amount of research both now and before i even got teh bike so i would start out with good habits and not have to worry about breaking bad ones. I feel pretty confident everywhere else (both track and trail) cept for jumps. I have formed the good habits of gripping the frame wth my heels, not holding the bars too hard, gripping with my legs, keeping my leg out high and in front of me on turns, distributing my weight to pegs a certain way, looking ahead, etc.

anyways, when i had my raptor (granted, it is a dirtbike with training wheels) i was able to clear all the double on the intermediate track. But thats a quad so i guess its a different story...plus weight and stuff factor into that.

I guess its just weird because i can hit the same jump fine 30 times and then the next time i hit it i nose dive a lil or tip back. I dont feel like im doing anything different. How can you keep a consistency? i mean, the bike is going to launch diffently if your accelerating your a$$ off or hit the jump with slight acceleration no matter how balanced you are on the pegs...no? so how do you compensate for that? thanks for the help. I know im not gonna be a pro, but i absolutely crave to fly around a track as gracefully as many of those guys on the expert track do. They dont even accelerate that hard or with fury, but somehow they just float off the jumps. Meanwhile, im redlining all my gears to get the same distance.(on the expert tabletops)

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intermediate track, beginer track. sounds like you go to the Landing? I really want to go there.

I think whats happening to you is not your actual jump but your pre jump. The reason you feel like you are along for the ride is probably because you are in the air. Did you ever ride a bmx bike? What ive always done on mx jumps is prejumped. As you reach the transition of the jump(depending on the face) you want to compress the suspension a little by bouncing. See if you let the jump face do it for you totally you are going along with it and sometimes it can bounce you off the pegs. You hear people complain all the time about that. If you pre compress your legs before the suspension and while its rebounding jump up with it you and the bike will travel the same in the air and you can use your knees to absorb the bike incase it bounces up more then you. Think of it like trying to bunny hop the bike. This usually helps the most with jumps that have a hard transition or a short face. It helps you control the bike by knowing what its going to do rather then just gas and hope but i think it will help you feel more in control. Now this doesnt have to be a harsh movement , its actually more like your just squating and you still want everything to flow so make it smooth. Start out small and see if it will actually work for you.

good luck and i hope i got that out right and it wasnt confusing.

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I think that if you let loose a little bit as in, get a little wild with some of the pros (just on the jumps) I think that you will get better, alot better. It just takes time. :cry:

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do you have the links to those videos for jumps and whoops you made mention off?

Dave

I'm not a pro but learing to clutch and break in the air really have me a sence of bike control in feeling like I could control the pitch of the bike in the air. Boosted my confidence to know if I pitched high in the front I could bring it back down by hitting the back brake. Make sure you clutch good because with the thumper it does not always easily start once it's dead in the air.

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Unfortunatly, the quad experience has little to do with dirtbikes. I'm also faster on my quad than on my dirtbike, but with time that changes.

Unlike a quad, the weight and balance of a dirtbike are much more sensitive to throttle position, weight positioning, etc. The best thing you can do is just continue to practice.

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do you have the links to those videos for jumps and whoops you made mention off?

Yeah, just click on the Semics MX Schools and Videos banner at the top of this page, then at Gary's website, click on the videos link on the left side of the page. The video "The Art of Jumping and Whoops" is part-way down that page.

It's a very helpful video for learning how to jump. Gary talks a lot about the preload part of jumping like Shift1313 mentions. I used to do the preload more, but after getting comfortable with the peg balance and heel lock tricks, I don't usually preload unless I'm having trouble clearing something and need the extra distance.

:cry:

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Numer one, slow down, when you are having these problems with confidence it is your body's way of telling you that your skills are not up to the type of things that you are doing. Stop, work on some other things, get your skills up and approach it again.

If you do not heed the warning that your body is giving you, you will crash and get hurt. I am in no way telling you to be a wussy and not try new things. But, I am telling you to listen to what your body is telling you.

Besides, races are not won doing jumps, they are won in the corners.

James

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thanks again for all the replies.

I DO know about using the brakes and throttle in the air and when im jumping WITH the bike i can do that fine. ITs that 5% of the time, when i jump awkwardly and i dont feel natural, that any movement or technique doesnt seem feasable. SOmetimes i think it happens when i think too much about what im doing rather than just do it.

Yeah that bouncing thing does work with bmx, dont know why i didnt think of that. But normally, when im riding up a jump, although my knees are bent and im in attack position...do i keep them stiff?? or let my knees absorb the jump a little? I definately agree its my pre takeoff that is the problem. any more help is greatly appreciated.

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INstead of me jumping the bike i feel like the bike is just jumping and im along for the ride

Think past the jump. Try concentrating on the landing, where exactly you want to land. Visualize the flight and the landing. Let jump come to you and guide you to your destination :cry:

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do you have the links to those videos for jumps and whoops you made mention off?

Yeah, just click on the Semics MX Schools and Videos banner at the top of this page, then at Gary's website, click on the videos link on the left side of the page. The video "The Art of Jumping and Whoops" is part-way down that page.

It's a very helpful video for learning how to jump. Gary talks a lot about the preload part of jumping like Shift1313 mentions. I used to do the preload more, but after getting comfortable with the peg balance and heel lock tricks, I don't usually preload unless I'm having trouble clearing something and need the extra distance.

:cry:

I thought there may be a free video we could look at>

If you know of any please post the link

Dave :cry:

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But normally, when im riding up a jump, although my knees are bent and im in attack position...do i keep them stiff?? or let my knees absorb the jump a little? I definately agree its my pre takeoff that is the problem. any more help is greatly appreciated.

can anybody clear taht up?

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What you do with your legs depends on what you are trying to do on the jump. If you need more distance to clear to the landing, you will bunny-hop the bike. That is, as you are hitting the jumpface, you push down with your feet on the pegs to pre-load the suspension, so that it is rebounding as you leave the jumpface. Then as you leave the lip, you can pull the bike up to you some with your heels, and poof, you land farther out.

If you want to jump lower so that you can go faster over the jump and not overshoot the landing, then you absorb the takeoff some with your legs. You stand a little taller on the pegs just before the bike compresses into the jumpface, and as you hit the compression part and the bike tries to rebound up into the air, you use your legs like extra shock absorbers to absorb about 6-12" of travel right at the moment you are leaving the lip. Watch the pros riding, or even the local fast guys at your track, and you'll see them doing this on the jumps that are easy to clear.

If you're just jumping for fun and don't need to go farther or lower, then just stay balanced in the attack position and support your weight balanced on the pegs at takeoff. When you feel the bike lifting you up into the air by just your feet, then you know you've got it right. And it feels so sweet! :cry:

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I agree with Shift1313 -- the key to feeling in control is to make the bike do what you want during the pre-jump. I recommend bunny hopping every jump to learn that kind of control. Essentially, pre-load the suspension as described by squatting down as you hit the face, then spring up with the bike as you launch and lift up and forward with the handlebars. Squeeze the tank and heel lock for additional influence over the bike. The key is to put effort into making the bike do what you want it to do rather than just hitting the jump and seeing what happens. If you pre-load and bunny hop, you will sense what the bike is trying to do in response to the jump surface and be able to correct it immediately. At some point, you'll get confident enough that you won't have to be as aggressive and, when you get really good, you will actually start trying to absorb the jump in sort of a reverse-bunny hop so you fly lower and get back on the ground faster.

I actually learned this while skiing. I had the same sensation you described - I was just hitting jumps and flying. Might as well have been a cinder block on skis just slamming into jump faces and hoping for the best. A friend told me I needed to take control of the jumps, have a plan for what I wanted to do, spring off the face, and then execute the plan. This was quite a bit different than the lump-like approach I had been using. It worked great! So I came back down the mountain and tried it on my mx'er the next weekend. Worked great! I hope that makes sense and helps.

Definitely let your knees flex. The best riders (not always the fastest, but the best) are very fluid. Ricky and some others get away with more of a hammerhead style, but most of the best are very fluid and work the bike while letting the bike work the track. The more you can do this, the more fun you will have!

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By the way, an additional thought - the vast majority of endo's occur because the back wheel hits something when the front wheel is already off the ground. The rear suspension absorbs the hit and rebounds, if the front wheel is off the ground the rebound causes the front to drop and the rear to rise.

If you hit a jump that whose face is shorter than your wheelbase, the bike will want to endo. If you hit a jump with a lip near the top, your bike will want to endo. Any time the front wheel has left the ground and the back hits a bump, you will want to be prepared for the front end to try to dive.

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I agree with Shift1313 -- the key to feeling in control is to make the bike do what you want during the pre-jump. I recommend bunny hopping every jump to learn that kind of control. Essentially, pre-load the suspension as described by squatting down as you hit the face, then spring up with the bike as you launch and lift up and forward with the handlebars. Squeeze the tank and heel lock for additional influence over the bike. The key is to put effort into making the bike do what you want it to do rather than just hitting the jump and seeing what happens. If you pre-load and bunny hop, you will sense what the bike is trying to do in response to the jump surface and be able to correct it immediately. At some point, you'll get confident enough that you won't have to be as aggressive and, when you get really good, you will actually start trying to absorb the jump in sort of a reverse-bunny hop so you fly lower and get back on the ground faster.

I actually learned this while skiing. I had the same sensation you described - I was just hitting jumps and flying. Might as well have been a cinder block on skis just slamming into jump faces and hoping for the best. A friend told me I needed to take control of the jumps, have a plan for what I wanted to do, spring off the face, and then execute the plan. This was quite a bit different than the lump-like approach I had been using. It worked great! So I came back down the mountain and tried it on my mx'er the next weekend. Worked great! I hope that makes sense and helps.

Definitely let your knees flex. The best riders (not always the fastest, but the best) are very fluid. Ricky and some others get away with more of a hammerhead style, but most of the best are very fluid and work the bike while letting the bike work the track. The more you can do this, the more fun you will have!

i couldnt agree with you more. The way you describe the cinder block scenario is exactly how i feel. im basically just hitting hte jump and waiting to find out what happens when i get in the air. I dont know what to expect til its happening. And now that u say it, i do this when i ski/snowboard so i understand what your saying. THanks for the help. i really appreciate it.

So far, everything everyone said makes sense to me.

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By the way, an additional thought - the vast majority of endo's occur because the back wheel hits something when the front wheel is already off the ground. The rear suspension absorbs the hit and rebounds, if the front wheel is off the ground the rebound causes the front to drop and the rear to rise.

If you hit a jump that whose face is shorter than your wheelbase, the bike will want to endo. If you hit a jump with a lip near the top, your bike will want to endo. Any time the front wheel has left the ground and the back hits a bump, you will want to be prepared for the front end to try to dive.

also, another great tip... thanks

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i think i sent you a PM warrior? the jump in there is just like colorado explains where the jump will make your front end drop because it unloads after the jump face while the rear is still loaded up. If you watch it before i leave the jump i throw my weight back as the front is leaving the face to counteract this rotation. You can really have alot of control over the bike, alot more the people think. if you know how to handle it. Jumping is not just being in the air, there is prep for it, making sure your suspension is tuned right for you, and learning how to land smooth and on the gas. just take it one step at a time and it will come. also colorado, great parallel with skiing/boaring, its even way more beneficial since the only suspension is your legs. really helps you learn control.

like colorado said. This is more of a "when you need it" thing but while your learning it really puts you in control of things. Once you get really comfortable with it you wont need it unless you need more air. You will pick up little body language ques and they will feel natural once you get this down. and definately dont lock your knees you should keep them moving just like part of the bike, only the controling part.

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Hi, 'm not a fast rider but i race and ride for 20 years, I would love to say u this : in my opinion if u don't feel relaxed while jumping u can consider two things: ask an expert rider to check your bike suspension, suspension must be balanced and tuned for your level. If that's ok... may be u r trying to jump too much or too fast. Your objective doesn't have to be to jump hight or jump faraway, but jump relaxed. If your level doesn't allow to jump fast, just jump slow, feel your bike with knees and train. U have to improve slowly but fixing basis for faster riding. Don't mind to control bike while flying, if u r not relxed and u feel like a bungee jumping every time u can't improve and can't control nothing. Don't mind if every rider jump more, mind yourself, if u jump and feel good, was ok, if u felt nervous, was a wrong jump. U can't improve in 10 or 100 jumps, u'll see results after 10000 jumps... (is not much.. 10 jumps a lap, 100 laps a day... r just 10 days..) We jump for fun... or not.. a broken shoulder is not fun, no ?

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