The Drop Zone is an area of the bike park we session to improve our drop skills, essential to all types of riding. The Drop Zone, usually with three, four or more progressively larger drops set side by side, ready to test your wit.
A great drop zone to learn on will be built with continuous progression between the heights of each drop. This could range between 2, 4, 6, and 8 feet. With a common slopped landing, each drop would ideally cascade back to allow the rider to carry more speed off of the larger drops. A long generous sloped landing is the choice providing the opportunity to send the drop deep into the landing. A long run up to the drops will allow the rider plenty of time to setup.
One of the best ways I’ve found to achieve sending it off that higher drop is to follow another rider in, to gauge their speed, and let them “pull” you through the feature. Starting off small with a moderate amount of speed, send it off of the smaller drops, quicker each time to build confidence. With four drops in a Drop Zone, practicing each with drop repeats until you can ride the feature comfortably, will provide confidence to move up to the next height drop. Learning on a set of ladder drops is by far a smooth way to go. Rock drops, ledges, and dirt will provide that extra level of challenge when setting up, approaching, gauging your speed, and of course, sticking the landing which isn’t always dialed.
The Drop Zone is a great place to warm up for a good ride session and also a place to focus on a specific skill that a rider will find comes in handy on the downhill course, riding trail, trials, dirt jumping and riding the urban landscape. I’ve lost a lot of sleep over the years about that drop I didn’t hit or left on the mountain. And, be sure to get your ride buddies to capture that drop on GoPro.