Being comfortable with your wheels in the air is a vital skill for mountain biking; and the more comfortable you are on the bike – the faster you’ll be during a race. There are no road-gaps during a 24-hour race, but you’ll need to be comfortable, even after 18-hours of riding.
It is often faster and safer to cleanly drop off obstacles rather than rolling over them. Rolling over them can make you vulnerable to unseen rocks and route, and make you lost control.
Manual lift – you should be comfortable with lifting your front wheel by pushing your body down and back to the rear of the bike. This is discussed at more length at the ‘manual lift’ skill section. When practising, aim to keep your front wheel off the ground for at least one bike length.
In the air – The aim of drops is to land both wheels at the same time. Once in the air, you may need to push your front wheel down slightly to make it flush with the ground. Keep your weight back and your knees and elbows bent. You have to tailor your approach depending on your speed and how long the drop is – this all comes with practising different drops.
Landing – Land with your knees and elbows slightly bent to allow your body to absorb the landing and ride on smoothly.
Practice dropping off curbs where ever you can. Try to make both wheels land at the same time.
Again, it is often faster and safer to clear obstacles without ever touching them. Hitting rocks and routes can act like touching the front brake; costing you a little forward momentum.
Manual lift – again, as you approach the obstacle, the first thing to do is to get your front wheel up. Do this by dropping your weight as low as you can and pushing your weight back.
Centralise your weight – once your front wheel is up and over the obstacle, you need to lift your rear wheel before it hits it. To do this, pull your weight back into the centre of the bike by pulling on your handlebars. Note: the more you pull your weight forward, the more your front wheel will dip, so only do this once your front wheel is clear.
Lift your rear wheel – drop your toes and push your feet back, into your pedals. This, in combination with moving your weight forward, will start to lift your rear wheel. If needed, bend your knees and kick your feet backward to raise your rear wheel further.
Just as with drops, you can practice hopping up, onto curbs.