Mtbr welcomes mountain bike legend Jeff Lenosky to the staff with this, the first of his monthly how-to columns designed to make you a better rider. The long-time Giant Bicycle and Mavic-sponsored pro is best known for trials riding, but also races enduro, and his urban freeride segments in the New World Disorder mountain bike films are legendary. Although Jeff’s skills are superhuman—he broke the world record for highest bunny hop at 45-inches—his down-to-earth demeanor, friendly personality, and ability to break down and describe his moves make him a great teacher as well.
Lenosky used the photo burst mode on his GoPro to help break down this trail riding technique.
If you spend enough time riding off road you’ll inevitably come across an obstacle such as a rock or log that needs to be hopped. The most effective way I’ve found to accomplish this on a mountain bike is by doing a move I call a “front touch” or a “punch.”
The reason this technique works best is because you don’t need a lot of speed, which is great if the obstacle is on an uphill or out of a turn, and you can do it with your seat at its full height. With a little practice you’ll be able to impress your friends and ride your favorite trails smoother and safer. Here’s a few things to keep in mind before practicing this or other skills, most technical moves should be done with your pedals level, one foot will always feel more natural leading, I call this my “strong” foot. I refer to my trailing foot as my “weak” foot.
TIP: If you’re not comfortable using a log to learn this skill, start with a small stick, or piece of packing Styrofoam until you get confident with the technique.
Step 1 – The Approach
Approach the obstacle in the standing position at a medium pace and as perpendicular to it as possible. Your body should be positioned towards the front of your bike with your chest crouched into the handlebars.
Step 2 – Front Wheel Lift
Time out your pedal strokes so that when you are about a bike-length away, your strong foot is coming around and you can use that power to lift your front wheel off the ground. Visualize a spot just below the top of the obstacle to place your front wheel.
Step 3 – Spring Forward
This picture shows the critical point of the move where you apply weight the front wheel, and as it crests the obstacle you begin to spring your body upward and forward as you finish your pedal stroke stopping when they are level.
Step 4 – Forward Lunge
Once you’ve initiated the forward lunge with your body, use your arms and wrists to lift and push the bike forward by extending your arms. This motion is similar to how you would raise your arms straight in front of you to stretch an exercise band anchored to the ground. By getting your bike up and out in front of you it will put the seat in your chest instead of under your butt, giving a lot more room to move around.
Step 5 – Bring the Rear Through
Spot a location on the top of the obstacle to place your rear wheel as your front tire touches down on the flat ground. If the obstacle is two feet tall or more you’ll want to keep your weight further back so that you manual over the top and your front wheel can stay high. If you’re new to this, however, start with a much lower obstacle until you get the hang of it.
Step 6 – Pedal On
Once mastered, the punch makes riding over obstacles more fluid and fun.