How to Survive Big Drops

Posted on 19/10/2009 by Blair N

This is a tutorial on riding and landing big drops such as cliff drops and north shores.

Blair's Disclaimer: This guide is written from my own experience and may not be applicable to all riders. Now that that’s out of the way, time for the tutorial.

To start with you should be a strong rider with strong legs and a bit of experience on smaller drops and jumps of about a metre high.

Find your spot

First you want to find some good drops between about 1 and 2 metres high. They should have a clean run in and a clear take off point. On your first large drops you don’t want to be trying to split two trees or jumping over roots or cracks in the ground. The landing should be long and smooth, preferably without trees and stuff to dodge on landing.

Here steep is good, 45 degrees (give or take) is best for transferring all that energy from the fall into speed and not into your knees. Never land onto flat if you can help it, all the energy will run into your legs and bust out your knees and with the recent cuts to ACC you really don’t want to destroy your knees. If you have a steep landing the energy will be converted forward giving you speed. Make sure your landing is hard packed without major ruts or anything that will catch your wheels and trip you up.

Now it’s time to ride...

Come into the drop with reasonable speed, not super fast but don’t go too slowly. Commit to the drop because often there’s no turning back. Get a solid jump off keeping you board level, you can even throw in a safety grab to hold you steady, and gain points with the ladies. Tip your nose down so that its level with the landing. Try to land all 4 wheels at the same time, if not bring your back two down just before your front two. If your front goes down first you run the risk of going over the front of your board – not fun. As you land let your knees bend and absorb the impact. All that’s left is to ride away and celebrate.

Sometimes things don’t always go to plan but it’s important to know that if you stuff up, say you go down too hard on the nose and roll over, you’re not going to get seriously hurt. Often the worst thing that happens then is you roll through some animal poo and stink the rest of the day. What’s important is that you don’t try to bail out of the drop, if you try to turn away, stop or fall off the drop you run the risk of landing badly on an arm or your neck; this is how people get hurt. So commit to the drop, keep your board level and things will turn out fine.

Survive to ride another day

The biggest drop most people will hit is about 3-4 metres, even the pros don’t go much more than about 5. So remember, be safe. Know what you can handle and always ride with someone else, never ride alone.