Even if you’re a frequent flyer, there are a few things to consider when hitting the big stuff.
Good technique, a properly set up bike and nerves of steel are all essential if you’re to make it safely to the landing.
1. Scope it out
Size things up. Don’t even consider going for the jump unless you’re 99 percent confident you’ll land it.
The more jumps you do, the better your gauge of speed will be. Look for cues on how fast to go — a set-up jump before the main jump can really help with this.
Watch other people hit it and look at how their bikes and bodies react. Don’t be afraid to ask other riders for advice, and always do a few test run-ins before hitting it for real.
2. The take-off
Read the take-off — does it look kicky or will you need to pull back off the lip?
Once you commit to it and are past the point of no return, resist the urge to panic and stiffen up. Stay relaxed (easier said than done, we know!) and treat it like any other jump.
The good thing with big take-offs is that the transitions are longer and generally more predictable.
3. Flying high
You’ll soon realise if things are going pear shaped. If so, think about bailing and throwing the bike to one side. You don’t want to crash down in a tangled mess.
Hopefully things are going well and you can concentrate on spotting your landing. The best thing about big jumps is how much airtime there is. So, once you get comfortable, have some fun and throw some whips!
This is the easy bit.
Straighten the bike out from whatever rad shape you’re throwing and aim for the downslope.
Hopefully you’re not coming up short or going long. If you are, then brace yourself for impact. Collect the kudos from your mates and push up for another go.
1. Start small
It sounds obvious, but don’t start eyeing up massive senders before getting comfortable on smaller jumps. If you bite off more than you can chew, it’s likely to result in a big crash that’ll not only potentially injure you but seriously dent your confidence.
2. Bike set-up
Pump up the tyres so they roll faster. Firm up the suspension by adding some air and/or low-speed compression damping (or a couple of turns of preload, on a coil fork/shock) to help you pump the take-off. On steep take-offs, slow the rebound down so you don’t get bucked.
3. Head game
The mental aspect of going big has to be nurtured too. Make a point of trying something that scares you a bit on every ride and hit lots of jumps to keep your skills sharp. It’ll all help you feel confident when you turn up at a new spot and are faced with something scary.