Each winter as a I tire of single digit temps and begin to daydream of hero dirt, I begin to set my riding goals for the year. Last summer, I attended two VIDA Mtb Series clinics where my coaches, Jon Casson and Elinor Wesner, broke down jumping in a way that began to demystify it for me. With this new found jumping knowledge still fairly fresh in my mind, I decided one of my goals for this year would be to be able to clear small tabletops. Since, I first rode Rainmaker at Trestle Bike Park I have wanted to be able to comfortably clear small to medium tabletops, but understood that I first needed to develop some fundamental skills.
I often tell my students, “go home and practice, ride up and down the street or in the grass and practice. Apply your skills on the trail; this will improve your riding.” I try to practice what I preach and I apply this advice to my own riding.
Obtaining my IMBA ICP Level I and PMBIA Level 1 certifications gave me the additional mental boost I needed to further work on my jumping goals. As the trails opened this spring, I began to seek out tabletops, practicing the approach, compression, pop and landing. I then began to video myself and analyze what I was doing and when, and where I could improve. I found this to be very useful, because frequently my mental image of myself and the actual image of myself are two very different things. Being at Buck Hill twice a week to teach mountain biking allowed me to designated time each week practice on tabletops, and as the weeks went by my practice sessions began to pay off. I began clearing the tables, my confidence grew and I began feeling more comfortable on my skill application and execution. Now, I am becoming more comfortable with speed and becoming more aware of my air awareness.
I know my form is not perfect and I am still a ways from clearing medium tables on a regular basis, but I am seeing gains from my weekly practice sessions. I am now looking forward to some upcoming time in Colorado to work on long jump lines, which I know will both test my abilities and progress my riding.
While practice may not always make you perfect, it will make definitely make you better. So, get out there and practice.