Stevek76 wrote:As far as videos go, ones where someone who can't do them is being taught or learning for themselves are considerably more useful I think.
You've nailed it. The instructional videos by experts are usually a total waste of time - in particular the hundreds of ones from young lads who have superhuman abilities at the wheelie, but are just incapable of explaining. It's generally the videos from struggling older weirdos like myself which have led to the Eureka moments.
Having said all that, i don't understand this:
you simply have to exert equal finger pressure on the forward-edge of your handlebars during and after the 'pop' in order to lift your front wheel up straigh
... it's probably one of those things that is easier to demonstrate, or teach physically.
Yep, I'm pondering whether to put a video on YouTube, once I've finally cracked it - that would hopefully get the point across more clearly, and might help out some other old gits like me who've been struggling. It may well be that the 'straight lift' isn't such a problem for everyone, but a quick look through the mountain bike forums suggests there are a lot of similarly-frustrated people out there. I'll try to explain what I mean a bit more clearly:
Once you've reached the stage where you can easily get your front wheel up to and beyond the balance point, and you're 100% confident that you'll always save yourself with your back brake when necessary, the next stage is balancing - both forward/backward and side-to-side. Forward/backward balancing is all about applying the right amount of pedal power and rear brake, as well as moving your head and upper body forward and back. Side-to-side balancing is something to do with shifting your butt around whilst your head stays in roughly the same position - but that's all I can say about it as I haven't cracked that yet.
The problem is: in order to develop the physical reactions you need to do these two balancing movements, you need time. And people like me find that more often than not, when we get our front wheel up, we're already off-balance sideways so you immediately turn sharply to one side and have to brake and drop your wheel. This doesn't give you any useful time to practice the brake feathering, butt-steering etc. Only once in a blue moon do you 'pop' and find you're balanced and the bike is going straight, and then you'll find you can wobble along for 2 or 3 seconds before you lose balance and have to drop the wheel. Those 3 seconds are precious, however, I guess I was getting a truly straight lift less than 1 out of 10 attempts. If you came up straight 100% of the time, you'd get vastly more balancing and brake-feathering practice. The fundamental problem is that your body is trying to twist during the 'pop' because one of your legs is forcing hard down on the pedal. I tried all sorts of ways to counter this, including:
- bending my arms equally and then slamming my elbows inwards simultaneously to ensure both arms straightened simultaneously during the 'pop.'
- 'punching' my palms down equally on the bars so that the suspension would bounce both arms back equally.
- trying to visualise both my shoulders pushing backwards equally,
- quickly following my left pedal stroke with a right pedal stroke to even up the twisting moment on my body
- and so on...
All of the above made improvements, but none achieved what I was after - i.e. a reliable straight 'pop.' However, I've now cracked it and it's very simple. I keep one finger on both brakes (you only need your rear brake, but I do this so that my left and right hands are in identical positions), slowly lean forward so my elbows are slightly bent (no rapid pushing down 'to compress the suspension' nonsense) and then, whilst pushing down with the pedal, I pull back on the bars, trying to pull exactly the same amount of force through the fingers of my left and right hands. So my fingers are pulling backwards throughout the pop, i.e. my palms aren't touching the bars at all - it's all on the inside of my fingers. It sounds daft, but just by focusing on applying an equal backward pulling pressure on the inside of your fingers, you can reliably get the bike up straight. That's a huge, and very recent, victory for me - but it's just the enabler for the next stage, i.e. learning how to steer a sodding bike with your backside...