Skip to main content

Drops to flat, well, drops in general

   Everyone has done it before on some scale. Popping off the side walk onto the street is a drop to flat. But let's quantify this and say that a drop is a mandatory air. It's past the size where you could safely roll over it. Start at three or four feet and just go up from there. Behind my elementary school was a retaining wall of white limestone. It was probably about four feet high. We rode off of that on bmx bikes and landed flat on grass. Not because it was fun or it felt good, but just so we could say we did it.
   That last sentence sums up all drops to flat. I know I still do them way more often than I should, on a bike or skis. Drops to flat are like choosing to watch an 80's action movie, you know what you are getting into. It's a cheap thrill and you may regret it. You're not going to find fulfillment when you land flat. If the drop is big enough it can even be damaging to you and your equipment.


  Yet, they still exist. When I was starting out jumping on a bike, I was  desperate for any way to get that thing into the air. Naturally occurring jumps are pretty rare, but natural drops to flat are everywhere. I dropped off loading docks, and flatbed trucks parked next to loading docks. I dropped down stairs, off of roofs, if I could get one of my friends to watch, I was all over it.
This was about a 6 ft drop to a landing as flat as a pool table


  The trick of dropping to flat is understanding that Speed Defies Gravity. I know this is true because I've had multiple bike seats try to convince me of this.

Speed Defies Gravity

   Your bike seat has no reason to lie, it's looking out for you, so you gotta trust it. SDG is the only formula you need to know. If you are going fast enough when you hit the ground, you can magically dissipate the force of impact without landing in a transition. It's like if I'm picking a bowling ball off the rack at the bowling alley and it drops three feet to the linoleum it will hit with X amount of force. But if I lob it down the lane and it stays three feet off the wood for the first ten feet, when it touches down it will have less than <X amount of force because SDG.
  There are two positive things I can say about drops to flat. One is that they are plentiful. There are way more of these in the world than there are drops to a transition. Another nice thing about dropping to flat, is that if you crash, you've already gotten the worst of it. If you are dropping to a nice steep landing and you crash, that could just be the beginning of a long tumble down the steep incline that you were aiming for.
  It could be that I have an issue with drops all together. Compared to jumps, I just feel like I'm being cheated with a drop. A jump has three distinct sections, the ascent, the apex, and the descent. During the ascent your bike leaves the earth and climbs into the air. You can feel the acceleration and the pull of gravity slipping away.
 The apex is the sweet spot, in my opinion this is the reason for jumping. During the apex you and your bike are floating through the air weightless. Your bike is traveling at the same speed as you, so now is the time to remove your hands, feet or both.

An airplane can perform a similar maneuver called parabolic flight, when the plane is at it's apex everything in the cabin becomes weightless. Please click that link, I'll wait..
The parabolic flight diagram explains dirt jumping perfectly, just imagine the blue part is the gap between the jumps. After the apex, you nose your bike down and gravity regains it's grasp on you, pulling you back to the dirt.
So here's my problem with drops. You are riding along either a rock or a diving board and it just ends..

..so you are entering the air right after the apex. You just missed the fun part! All you get to experience is the return trip to earth. Drops and jumps can be roughly the same height, so the risk of injury is all the same. You are taking the same risk as jumping, for only one-third of the experience. And not even the best part.
So you people do whatever, keep stepping up to bigger and bigger drops.
The legendary Josh Bender on "Jaw Drop"



I'll be over there on the jumps.

P.S
The real reason I don't like drops, is because I'm not talented enough to throw tricks off of them very well. I go into greater detail about this in my post about concussions.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

John Biro and the Dirt Bike (Not Bike Related)

  I knew John Biro. I was lucky to meet him early in my short time in that part of the mountains. At his service lots of people told great stories about him. Lots of people knew him better and new him longer. My Biro story is just a tiny scrap in the mountain of stories that could be told about him. But I want to tell it anyway, because I feel like one day his boys might be looking for new stories, little stories, everyday stories, about  their dad. I don’t want to tell a story about myself, I want to tell a story about Biro, but I just happen to be in it.   I first met Biro on his birthday in 1998. Shane and Marvelous Marvin led me up to his cabin. I had been sledding up Kebler before, and into Robinson basin. But I had always skirted around the townsite. The town site was forbidden, unless you had a reason to be there. I was excited to finally enter this mysterious place where smoke trickled from the chimney's of odd little cabins covered in snow. I stayed all day at the party a

Working in a bike shop Part 1 The Tube Shortage

   Bikes are so hot right now! The global pandemic has brought massive popularity to a thing that many of us already knew about. Bikes are cool. Riding Bikes is fun. It's conceivable that social distancing has killed many sources of recreation that people had come to rely on and enjoy. Obviously bowling isn't a sport, but it did provide entertainment to many people, and now bowling alleys are closed.    It would have been great if bowlers had taking the sport back to it's rough and tumble roots. I'd be interested in watching some gritty, underground 'street bowling.' I picture it in an abandoned warehouse run by bowling gangs. But that didn't happen. Instead everyone in the country said, "Hey don't we have some bikes still in the garage? We should ride those." or even better, they said, " You know, I think I'd like to try mountain biking, that looks fun!"   And so the Golden Horde was unleashed on an unprepared cycling industry. B

Cantilever Brakes

    A few years ago I convinced several friends to join me and ride The Gold Rush Bike Rally. This is a great ride that took us up gravel roads, over rough, rocky singletrack and then dropped us into winding canyon roads above Boulder. We rode a combination of mountain bikes, commuter and cyclocross bikes.   A funny thing about cyclocross bikes is that they continued to use cantilever brakes  long after that style of brake had gone extinct on mountain bikes. This post is about those brakes, and why they should be extinct.    The pavement felt fast and smooth after beating ourselves on the rocks and ruts of the Switzerland Trail. My brother was riding an older cyclocross bike and he started hauling down the hill with the rest of the team. In an instant his back tire violently blew out and he skidded to the side of the road with his foot down.    The team all gathered round and quickly had the wheel off his bike. The sidewall of the tire had a thin crescent shaped slice in it, and