I've been getting back up to speed after lockdown, bad weather and wet trails, as well as preparing for City Centre Coaching Sessions coming up over Easter. I've been using progression - repeating exercises on progressively more difficult terrain - to build my confidence and strength.
In this blog I've highlighted three drops in Countesswells Woods by the Blacktop Road to practice on. Drops 1 and 2 are at the top and bottom of Berm Baby Bump. Drop 3 is on a trail above the road starting just to the east of the large boulder. They build up from a drop of a bit more than wheel hub height with a clear landing, to an over wheel height drop and then a wheel height drop on a narrow, twisty section of trail.
There are loads of good videos online about drops, This video by Joy of Bike gives a good summary of the physics. Essentially, both wheels need to clear the lip of the drop so that your bike doesn't rotate forward a down. Joy of bikes also do a critique of all the other millions of videos on riding drops which is a good summary.
I have kept my pace down in the videos to focus on technique, and rolled all the drops first to get my eye in. For drop 1, a bit of speed is your friend. A good pace keeps the bike level, and I just stay on top and centred on my bike. A little lip on to the boulder lifts the front wheel which actually turns this into a small jump.
At Drop 2 the run in and run out are steeper but the same principles apply - keep your weight over the middle of your bike and maintain a good pace. I'm going quite slowly over this drop so put in a small bounce just before the lip so that the bike stays level until my rear wheel goes over the lip. At higher speeds I would not need this but would only adjust the pitch of my bike to the slope of the landing.
I found Drop 3 more of a challenge. The technique for drops 1 and 2 will serve me well for any height of drop, as long as my courage holds out! The tricky thing is working a drop in to a twisty trail, where the run out and run in are more complicated. I found the knack to riding Drop 3 smoothly was to carry speed around the corner above. But on my first attempt I got the line wrong, and don't get the front wheel down soon enough too steer the right side of the tree. For the last few runs, I'm only using a short shove forward to keep the chainwheel from catching the lip, then getting the front wheel down quickly. I'll go back when the trails are drier and see if I can taker a faster, wider line to the riders right.
I'd me keen to see how other riders tackle these sections, and any other progression in other skills riders are using.