Searching the forum, I can’t easily locate a good single synopsis of dropping technique, so I thought it might be interesting to put together a list of all the techniques out there that I’ve read about on rsu, seen, or learned from personal experience. I’m doing 4 foot drops onto grass and 2.5 onto pavement - and want to continue with this. Here’s what I’ve gathered/learned so far. Can anyone add to this?
Extend/elongate body during the fall (like a cat). Foot fully extended. Upon impact, collapse and fold like rag doll. Use all of your body to absorb the impact. When you land, your whole upper torso can bend down into a horizontal position. Never bounce.
Roll out of the drop. If you jump forward off the drop, you will have some forward momentum so the when you land, you will have some horizontal momentum to facilitate the roll. Basically, it seems that with practice you can transfer the vertical energy to horizontal. Perhaps someone could describe this better, but I’m finally beginning to see how this works. Kris Holm described this a while ago in the newsgroup. As you roll forward, the uni will want to shoot forward, and you will go into a “braking” motion.
This is obvious, but make sure you land with cranks in your “strong” position - horizontal - (Basically the cranks shouldn’t change position from the time you jump. Immediately upon landing, you go into the roll. This is different from the rolling drop, which can be done for smaller drops of say 1 to 2 feet. Rolling drops only work for me when the height is under 2 feet and the take off and landing surface is clear and smooth. For “big” drops, the impact is so great, that you need to land in a reliable position. If your cranks are at 6 and 12 o’clock on a big drop, you can’t absorb the impact.
Gripping the handle firmly but flexibly, also use your arm for stability and to absorb impact. It helps a lot to have a decent handle, e.g., not a stock Miyata, but rather a Wilder CNC or a Reeder.
Make sure the soles of your shoes are firm enough so that you don’t get sore feet (John Childs wrote about this).
Make sure you have good grippy shoes and pedals with grippy pins. (And a Muni setup that can handle the stress of the drops, of course). Your body weight and Muni durability would obviously be a factor.
Grass/sand or any soft surface is good for practice. Half pipes in skate parks are also good.
Other practice ideas? Practice jumping off high surfaces onto your feet and study the motion. Have someone watch you and see how flexible you are. Videotape yourself. Study martial arts. Watch videos of people like Dan Heaton, Kris Holm etc doing drops and watch their motions in slow-mo. Watch videos of cats falling. Parachutist must study this stuff.
I’d love to hear other ideas. I’m sure I will be able to absorb a drop of greater than 2.5 feet onto pavement with continued practice, but I’m not there yet. I think this could be largely psychological - pavement is scarier than grass.
Since I’m relatively new to drops, I’m wondering where you hit the wall in terms of height and how you know when you are approaching it. With a well practiced landing technique it seems to me you can greatly minimize the impact and stress that the body takes.
Couple days back I asked for advice on how to reduce or prevent ankle injuies on stairs; the advice I got has worked well, and would apply to drops also.
Naturaly, I tend to ride with the pad of my foot on the pedal. This lead to hyperextending my ankle on hard drops and landing fast stair descents; the sudden weight would cause my heal to be pushed lower than the pedal. As advised, moving my foot further forward has largly aleviated this, without, as yet, much ill effect to knee or balance.
I had a hard ride a couple days back with LOTS of stairs on a still recovering ankle -and no complaints from it. I did have to adjust my balance point; took a few curbs testing the foot position, and pitched off the front a couple of times, untill I recognised how balance was effected, then stuck a half dozen different flights of steps without issue.
Yeah, that thread got me started thinking about all of this. I can see how moving your foot forward would help, but I would think that the down side would be a loss of the flexibility and shock absorption offered by the calf muscles. It’s like someone mentioned, when you jump and land on your feet, you don’t land on your heels. You land on your toes and your calves help absorb some of the impact.
I’ve experienced the hyperextension think on stairs too, but hardly ever on drops. I guess this might be because when you are riding stairs your legs are in normal riding mode - loose and flexing back and forth - the ankle is vulnerable.
On the other hand, landing a big drop, your legs are converted momentarily for the sole purpose of shock absorption - poised and ready for the blow. With stairs you don’t have much time from the last step to the final impact to prepare for the landing. Interesting. I just started riding stairs last week. Fun stuff.
Do you find stairs any harder to ride with the foot moved forward?
I guess I may be different, but I almost never do a drop more than 3 feet unless I can ride into/out of it. Otherwise, I take the from static and roll the end, or static seat out front to static seat out landing. I have gotten better at rolling off with the pedals perfect and moving them backward in the air to land the drop correctly.
With only one very active day using the new position, the answer seems to be… no. In fact, it may be more stable! It looks like most of my bounce-controll on stairs is delivered from the legs.
Keep in mind that I’m almost exclusively riding a 24" x 3" tyre on stairs- radically expanding my range envelope from the 24X2.1 wheel; all that rubber sucks alot of energy out of the descent, absorbes shock.
Hmm after studying Kris in NWD2 i found it lots the take off from the drop that helps the landing here’s some ideas and if they suck just think “man that guys one huge ass moron”
jump off i found this to be one of the worst cause you usually end up with twisted and bent cranks
pedal Kick ooh! ooh! a kris holm technique! i found this one out while watching NWD2 its where you go up to the edge of the drop then put in a little pedal stroke then while in mid air bring your cranks to normal position… i think this also works for gapping (its easier than it sounds…) (bike trials riders will know what i mean)
rolling off well the best thing to do here is to have your bad foot at the bottom of the wheel (so if you cranks are vertical than the bad foot is the lower crank) this is the best crank saver
all these usually lead to rolling and compressing your body type landing (with the exeption to jumping off where you usually just end up flat down on the ground)