The last thing holding me back, Rolling Hops

OK, i’m sure this is has been discussed before so I appologize. But anyways rolling hops are probably the only thing holding me back from getting a lot better. I can rolling hop really high but i can’t do it very far, distance wise. Like when i jump stairs i always do a slight pre-hop and I know you arn’t really supposed to do that. So do you guys have any tips for getting a farther rolling hop?? Thanks

You’ve nailed your problem. Your speed going into the hop is what will propel you over an obstacle. Doing a pre-hop kills your forward momentum, and this is what you need to jump “farther”.

Practice your rolling hops (just on flat ground), going slowly, without pre-hopping. Then practice them while pedaling faster and faster. Over time you’ll develop a feeling for the “right time” to jump and that’s what you need to get distance / land a high hop.

If you can hop really high it sounds like you already know most of what you need. It’s time for a short physics lesson which should help you improve your rolling hops.

To achieve a good distance with a rolling hop requires two things

  • forward velocity
  • vertical velocity (which affects airtime)

Increasing either of these will result in a longer rolling hop distance. Let me explain why.

For a given forward velocity, the larger your vertical velocity the higher you go. This results in you spending more time in the air and consequently you travel further.

For a given vertical velocity your air time is fixed. The faster you are travelling horizontally the further you will travel through the air before landing in the few fractions of a section available to you.

As you can already hop high, what you need to focus on is increasing your horizontal velocity so that you launch with a fair amount of horizontal speed. If you watch really good unicyclists competing in long jump most of them take a big run up. This allows them to build up a huge amount of speed just before launching.

To forward hop like this requires you to know what pedal position you like to launch from in a rolling hop. You then set yourself up so that the pedals hit the right position just where you want to launch. To set up try hopping on the spot where you want to launch from and then riding (or rolling your wheel) backwards from that spot. When you ride forward build up some speed and focus on jumping high without losing that horizontal velocity.

A good exercise is to get two hockey sticks or similar and place them a set distance apart. Try to rolling hop over the sticks, launching before the first one and landing after the second. Gradually move the sticks further apart. This is less threatening than gapping or launching from the top of stairs, but will still help you develop your rolling hops.