In this rolling cooler is 6 gallons of iced coffee—I wish. No, more like camera gear and blocks of wood. Today, at 8AM, I’m teaching my first ever clinic here at Virginia Key Park. I don’t know how to hold a clinic so today will be a learning experience; not just for these riders, but for me as well. It may not surprise you that I chose to conduct a class on bunny hops. In my other videos I’ve used several alternate explanations of this technique to try and get through to as many people as possible. Teaching this clinic has given me even more insight into the challenges beginners face.
First of all I want to clarify that we’re we’re talking about the American bunny hop. This has a lot of benefits over the English bunny hop, as it gives you the ability to go way higher. Learning this technique also helps you get higher off jumps.
This is Allan, a very involved rider down here in Miami. He helped organize the kids event last week. Although he’s an experienced rider, Allan has never practiced bunny hops before today. When we got started he could barely make it over 1 block of wood. Allan was in good company.
While a few riders already had the basic concept down, most everyone was new to bunny hopping. Even those that had a decent technique were still interested in hopping higher and smoother.
Like we already know from reading the comments on my videos, getting the front wheel up is a challenge for many riders. For this reason, it’s a good idea to master this part before you start trying to hop. I’ve explained the concept of preloading, where you force your weight down first in preparation to pop up. Using these riders as a sample group, it looks like a lot of you might be moving too fast and jerky. Some people move down so fast that they’re actually pulling on the bars. While preloading, you shouldn’t be pulling at all, in fact you should be letting gravity bring your down, and actually pushing on your bars to pop back up.
If you’ve done your preload properly, you’ll be standing straight up, arms extended. It’s at this point where you can pull your bars towards your waist.
Once you master getting your front end up, it’s time to break some other habits. For instance, a lot of first timers focus on using their feet to get the rear off the ground. The truth is that once you get your bike up at an angle, your bars are all you need. Whether you ride clipless or flat pedals like I do, just stop thinking about your feet altogether. It’s possible that this might conflict with some of my past advice, but this clinic has made me realize that focusing on your feet does more harm than good.
Because people were focusing on their feet, it actually prevented them from getting their rear wheels over things. If you’re having this problem, try landing nose heavy. In BMX landing nose heavy is a bad thing, but a longer bike with suspension forks is very different animal.
I think everyone at the clinic learned something. Although I’d like to take credit for this, a lot of Allan’s improvement was just due to practice and repetition. For the whole morning he kept trying, and tweaking his technique. This goes to show you how important it is to ride with friends. Without this clinic, I doubt Allan would have taken it upon himself to set this stuff up and try bunny hopping for two hours. Just getting together with your friends at a set time could be as beneficial as meeting with an instructor.
So what did I learn? What will I do to improve my next clinic? Well no matter what topic I’m teaching, I’ll be bringing some better obstacles that don’t fall apart every time they get hit. I’ll also be writing out the course and staying more organized. Another thing I didn’t consider was separating the explanations from the demonstrations. Trying to explain something while out of breath isn’t very professional. Although everyone seemed to enjoy themselves this morning, I’m going to ensure that my next clinic is as fun as possible above all other things. I think what made people improve the most was just getting together and practicing with the common goal of improving. Maybe I will fill that cooler with iced coffee next time. Maybe I’ll spike it with baileys…Maybe not. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll see you next time.