|Not me but it is my pic. These guys fly!|
The mind is a tricky thing, if you have confidence and charge a jump then you are far more likely to land it than if you approach it timidly and just try to roll through it. And I've got the scars to prove it.
I make no bones about the fact that I'm not a jumper. I ride cross country and actually relish a good hard technical climb (so long as there's nobody in front of me who makes me stop because they couldn't make it). But that's not to say that I don't want to learn better jumping skills because, let's face it, flying is pretty damned cool even if it's for a moment.
One of my regular trails I ride is what I call the backside of lower Nisene Marks State Park. It involves leaving Nisene Marks and riding down a road to jump back on to the trail. The backside is some very swooping and sometimes very technical singletrack with dropoffs, jumps, big jumps and roots and rocks. It is, in other words, challenging and rewarding and awesome.
In my own case yesterday, there are a couple of spots on the trail where my brain has told my body that I need to dial it back or risk a good crash. But yesterday I told my brain to shut the hell up and let my body go. The first time through, I rolled through a jump that had previously stymied me. It wasn't pretty but I did it and it felt awesome to have overcome it. On my second loop, I hit it faster and landed it much better! And next time, I'm gonna hit that sucker with some good speed!
It helps that there are how-to videos for everything, including how to better manage your jump position (elbows out, weight back). It also helps to be trailing someone who can do it and emulate them.
And, in the end, it is these little victories that make mountain biking so rewarding to me, in addition to the mental health, physical health and massive stress reduction!