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Monday, April 11, 2005


I never imagined that I would enjoy watching someone else clean a double jump. I always thought that I'd rather be doing it myself.

Fellow mountain biker Kote' had stacked pretty hard the first time. The jump is tricky. About fifteen feet long. And right after a series of turns. So you have to exit that last turn with a ton of speed, and carry it up the transition in order to clear the gap and land on the downward slope of the second jump.

Kote' had tapped the brake, came up short...and ended upside-down and bruised up. I offered to let her follow my line and at my speed...sometimes that's the best way to learn how to conquer a jump. But the neo-pro stayed pretty quiet and decided to work on other stuff on other parts of the track. Brooding for almost two hours.

The sun was just dipping below the power lines and the shadows were stretching halfway across the track. Kote' rode back to the group and announced that she wanted to try the jump again.

“That's great!” I encouraged. “But you can't brake-check in that last turn. No brakes at all.”

That key turn is definitely about speed, leaning in hard, letting the tires drift, and trusting the berm. But it is tempting to touch the brakes. That is until you fall short of the jump's landing slope.

We watched Kote' eat it a few more times. The sun was just beginning to fall below the orange tiled roofs of the nearby subdivision. Starting to get chilly, too. But none of us wanted to tell Kote' that. She was battling those brake levers.

“Stay right on my wheel,” I was saying. From the top, we were both looking down the track, and finally to the sloped landing fifteen feet beyond that. “Keep your arms loose. Flap them around like you're a chicken.”

Kote' was nodding her head, listening, but staring down the track.

“And this time hold onto your grips like this. Like THIS.” My fingers were rolled completely around my grips. Not even a pinky touched the brake lever. “And don't move a finger.”

Kote' balled her hands up onto her grips like two fists. The levers seemed like a mile away.

I took off first, and she was right behind me. First and second turns mellow. A little bit faster. Then the third, the whirring pitch of her knobby tires higher. Faster still. And then the last turn to the transition, then in the air, whooh! Left pedal forward...butt off the saddle, chin up, knees bent, heart lifting, elbows bent to cross-up...and then both tires touch the dirt again. Fox Fork flush a few inches, wheels rolling, and I hear the puff of Kote's suspension echoing right behind me. Cleanly.

Even though by then it was officially 'night-time', we all hung around to watch Kote' land that big jump. And watch her big smile. A few more times.

marla streb
Kyle Strait shows off his jumping skills at the 2004 Red Bull Rampage. Photo by Christina Pondella / Red Bull


Carl said...

Hey Marla,

I'm not much of a biker, but when jumping, is the angle of your bike to the ground affected (like a motorcycle) by grabbing the breaks in mid air? Or is it simply body positioning?

8:59 AM  
Neil said...

very much so from my experience. But Marla will know for sure.

10:40 AM  
carl said...

Right on. Thanks neil

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