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Getting Back To It: Drops

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

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.

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