Jed Olson was one of a dozen or more Minnesotans who made the trip to Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee for the IMBA members weekend. I hadn’t met Jed before but had seen his postings in the MORC forum and was bummed when I couldn’t make it to the Gravity Summit he hosted in Red Wing last fall. (Above left photo: I’m using a ‘dad’ photo from his Facebook profile because, duh, I neglected to get a photo of his face at Ray’s.)
As you can see from my photo and the 19-second video clip of Jed above, he knows how to ride. So when I saw him with his buddy at the Micro Rhythm track at Ray’s, I asked him to critique my form. He said I was pumping the rollers just fine but when I got to a tabletop, it looked to him like I was trying some kind of jumping or bunny hop motion. He told me to just ride the table top with the same motion as I was riding a roller, like it’s round going up, round on top (but in the air), round going down. (Those aren’t his words, just my best recollection.)
I rode the track once and immediately felt the difference. I think I said "Wow" but I was actually thinking "Holy fucking shit." After a few more times, Jed said, "You got it." He said I just needed a little more speed. And sure enough, by mid-afternoon I was able to clear the lips of all three of the table tops on the back stretch of the Micro Rhythm track.
I’ve watched many how-to-jump videos (BikeSkills.com example here) and I’ve read and re-read the section on jumping in the book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack (I blogged it here). So it was more than a little amazing to have Jed diagnose what I was doing wrong and prescribe a fix in one sentence. I guess that’s what good coaches can do.
My whole weekend at Ray’s was memorable but learning a new skill was not something I expected. I’m psyched to tackle the table top jumps at Lebanon Hills (photo here). And I now have the confidence to work my way up to where I can handle some of the bigger jumps at other area MTB parks. Copper Harbor, here I come.
In case you’re wondering what a Micro Rhythm track is, here’s a helpful description by Jon Pratt at Dirt Rag back in Oct. 2011 in a review titled Dirt Rag visits Ray’s indoor mountain bike park in Milwaukee:
Along with the upgrades to the cross country course, there is an out-and-back Micro Rhythm track which is a great place for people to get comfortable with how a jump line feels. Built with an out-and-back design, the track features several boxes and jumps. Instead of a bermed turn at the end of the outbound rhythm line, there is a platform that allows the rider to reset themselves if they hadn’t been able to get in sync with the course before attempting the inbound line. Personally I had trouble getting back in sync once interrupted by the platform, something that I had issues with on the out-and-back in Cleveland as well. But, I understand the idea behind the exclusion of a bermed turn.
Indeed. Having that platform instead of a bermed turn made a huge difference, for me and from what I could tell, many others.