Breakdown: Utah Technique

Breakdown Utah Technique

August 18, 2015 3:20pm

Jeremy Martin: This photo is the quintessential Utah National photo. With many straight-line sections and short-ish doubles, scrubbing jumps is mandatory. Both Jeremy Martin and Zach Osborne are scrubbing as hard as they can to keep their speed up while going down this straightaway. On short-faced doubles like this at high speed, the turn-down-type scrub isn’t possible, so it looks a bit mellower than scrubs you may have seen elsewhere. As they leave the jump face, they are turning the handlebars hard to their preferred side. As the forks and shock rebound, they are pushing back down to counter-act that force, keeping both man and machine low. This all happens in a split second when going at high speeds and is second nature for modern-day pro racing.

photo: Cudby

Ken Roczen: This sequence is an incredible display of technique and balance. Ken Roczen is dropping into an off-camber right-hand rut. In the first photo, everything looks normal and he seems prepared to sit down and weight the front tire to turn. Alas, in a very Stefan Everts-esque style, he stands much longer than normal and continues his forward momentum. He leans inside and trusts his front tire to stick although his body weight is giving it every reason to push outside. His head is also leaned heavily to the inside, and as riding coaches will tell you, where your head goes, the bike goes. This technique requires immense core strength, as the balance point is extremely precarious. The upside to standing here is that the bike’s suspension and momentum remain constant, allowing the chassis to work at maximum efficiency. Also notice that he has fingers on both the front brake lever and clutch lever, ready for adjustment at a moment’s notice as the bike moves beneath him. At such an extreme lean angle, he would only make small inputs with the throttle, brake, and clutch feed. This is a very, very high level of riding.

Roczen: Roczen with the prototypical turndown scrub. He is cresting a roller single jump that poses no benefit to jumping. The fastest way is to get his wheels down on the ground as soon as possible and keep accelerating on the downside. To do that, he is leaning the bike over and absorbing the air time that the jump would produce—or “scrubbing” the jump. There are two visual keys to this scrub. First, look at the positioning of his foot. His toe is pointing down at a sharp angle. Why? He can gain the most leverage to push down when the bike wants to rebound skyward from the jump face. Also, it allows him to climb further forward on the bike due to his knee bending so sharply. Scrubbing hard requires a great deal of front-end control, and being forward is the only way to accomplish that. The second key to this scrub is the position of his umm…hindquarters. He is leaning his butt off the side of the bike to keep it out of the way of the rebounding seat. It also allows him to push the bike down toward the ground and stay lower. The next time you’re cruising around on a bicycle, put all of your body weight on one side and then see how easy it is to push the bike away from that side, opposite of your body. This is the same tactic, just much more advanced in practice.

photo: Cudby

Canard/Short: These are two of the best humans I have ever met. While incredibly competitive and downright fierce when helmeted, they exemplify what the sport is all about. They are probably discussing how to rectify global strife while downing coffee and strawberries.

photo: Cudby

Ryan Dungey: This is the same turn that Roczen was standing through earlier. Dungey is positioned here in typical Dungey fashion. He usually sits early in the turn entry and keeps his body very neutral to the lean angle of the bike. He is very good at keeping his momentum through the turns, and Roger DeCoster has said that this talent of maintaining corner speed was one of the factors in deciding to help Ryan in 2006. The most impressive aspect of this picture for me was his inside (right) leg’s placement. He’s lifting it very high to keep it out of the way. He is using it to both balance himself and also as a safety net against a mistake. Lifting his leg that high through turns is pure habit from years of practice.

Alex Martin: This is the standard pose of a rider trying to eek out every extra inch of distance on a jump. There were quite a few photos of riders in this exact stance, trying to clear a difficult Utah jump. He is lifting with every inch of himself, trying to get higher and further in hopes of reaching the downside. Notice the airborne mud, indicating a big impact with the prior jump face, or a “G-out” as it’s called.

photo: Cudby