Ryan Leech mountain bike video instruction DVDs available at ActionSportsVideo.com
Lesson Overview – Focus: To learn where the back edge of your manual balance is. Action: Pull up into a manual through the float zone and jump off the back of the bike. Graduate: When you are no longer scared of going too far back during a manual.
Find a very gentle uphill grassy slope to practice this on. Knowing where your float zone ends so you can grab your rear brake is important — but you won’t know where that end point is until you go past it! Intentionally jumping off the back of the bike helps with the programming.
The manual float zone is a place where your front wheel can be suspended in the air with a weightless floaty feeling. It can be entered for a moment or maintained. We’re only at the momentary stage, there are many strategies for longer manuals that I’ll cover later in the program. So for now, let’s just make friends with this often scary feeling of float.
A common fear is looping over backwards and landing on your butt. It’s more common with wheelies, but still very possible with manuals. Your first line of defense is to grab your rear brake to throw your front wheel and body weight forward. I want you to continue practicing this. Though for this lesson, I want you to intentionally pull up into a manual, blow through the float zone and then jump off the back of the bike, landing on your feet.
The first challenge is getting enough pop to go through the float zone — be careful not to to be rolling too fast, a brisk walking pace should suffice, and an uphill practice zone will also help. When you jump, you actually want to push the bike out of the way forward. Try to land like a cat, absorbing the force with your legs by bending your knees.