So we have an airbag lander. Now what?!

So we have an airbag lander. Now what?!


last week Eric and I designed and built
a large wooden lip in my backyard. It backs up to a row of bushes behind the
garage to keep it stealth when it’s not in use. To make it operational we simply
inflate a wedge-shaped bouncy castle on the other side of the bushes to use as a
landing. Flying out of the trees and seeing an airbag lander appear beneath
you is quite the experience, but now that the work is done and we have this
extremely fun thing in our possession, it won’t stop raining. As we found out,
even a little moisture turns this airbag into a slip and slide. Worse yet,
this relatively new trail hasn’t hardened enough to shed water.
Eric: “We’re on mountain bikes so we’ve got that going for us.” We’ll tune it up and improve the drainage at a later date, but for now we
need to get it good enough to ride the airbag today. We’ll lay some fresh dirt
down on key problem areas and use scrap plywood on the approach to keep
ruts from forming. We’ll give this some time to dry out and then have a look at
my new bike. I traded Eric my trials bike for one of his dirt jumpers, and I’m
really happy with my end of the deal. This thing is stiff, lightweight, and
packed with some of the best parts you can get. Since Diamondback doesn’t
currently make a dirt jumper this is a really special bike. Seth: “every time I get on a dirt jumper, I feel like a fish out of water because it doesn’t feel like a BMX, and it doesn’t feel like a trail bike.” A dirt-jump-specific bike like this one
feels totally different than a normal mountain bike, and to some of you that
may sound strange. Back in 2017 I converted a hardtail trail bike into a
single speed, and many of you pointed out that I had basically created a dirt
jumper. It looks like a dirt jumper and you can certainly use it to do a lot of
the things that dirt jumpers are great for, but it’s not a DJ bike. It’s still a
trail bike. A dirt jump frame has totally different geometry than a trail bike.
It’s made to fit smaller 26 inch wheels. It’s also set up for a shorter, stiffer
fork, and a more BMX-like seat post. While these features make dirt jumpers truly terrible for riding technical trails, hitting jumps on this thing is amazing!
So, today on my new dirt jump bike, we’ll find out if you can teach an old dog new
tricks. Eric: “hit it like normal and when you’re starting to peak out just push the
bike out.” Today, Eric is convinced that he can teach me how to do
no-handers. Seth: “Gotta do a better job of tucking the seat between my knees.” To some people, doing air tricks comes naturally. Take Kevin for instance. It took him many tries just to get over the Maim Frame, and believe it
or not but he still hasn’t done the roll-in off the Flight Deck. Seth: “when are you doing this roll-in?” Kevin: “I dunno, man, to be honest with you The bike’s gonna crunch I’m just gonna faceplant” But give him a jump and he’s taking all sorts of hands and feet off his bike.
Meanwhile I’ll happily ride any scary feature and even throw 360s, but taking
my hands off my bike is a non-starter. I won’t do it! To this day I tend to jump
hunched over and hold my bike close to me in the air. Learning to do it another
way would be like learning to jump all over again, and that’s exactly what I’m
doing. Eric: “So the difference between suey no-hander and tuck no-hander is in a suey you pinch the seat with your knees. In a tuck
no-hander you pull the bars in and tuck them in your waist. I’m confident I can teach
you how to do a suey no-handers in your own backyard.” Seth: “now that’s a scarier name than tuck no-hander” Eric: “yeah nobody’s scared of tuckin’ anything” I need to get my weight over the center of the bike instead of the front, and put
some distance between me and the handlebars. Eric: “So once you get up towards the top push the bars out. What that’s doing is putting the seat in between your
knees. So the first time you go off the jump push your bike out and pinch the seat. Then you do one of these…you can do jazz hands if you want. You’ll just start
to feel that, oh everything’s cool.” Once I achieve this neutral body position, I can
push the bike forward so the seat rests between my knees. Seth: “I don’t even feel like I am I’m at where I’m supposed to be with the seat, so I’m gonna keep trying” Eric: “yeah keep working on the pinch. Once you have that, everything else
is like two runs.” So the big hurdle is unlearning my bad habits and committing
this new way of jumping to muscle memory. It’s important that I don’t rush this
because this airbag isn’t necessarily going to save me. Like other training
tools, an airbag can give you a false sense of safety. Even on a dirt lander,
it’s not the ground you need to worry about—it’s your bike! Even in a foam pit
you can get amazingly hurt if your bike lands on top of you. So when jumping on
anything you need to recognize when you’re in trouble, and then get your bike
as far away from you as possible. That aside, the airbag can be a great training
tool. Clearly these wrecks could have been much worse. Once you get into the right position,
no handers can be an incremental trick. Even without an airbag lander, you can
safely learn these in tiny steps. Eric: “he’s gonna get it this time” Seth: “I’ve gotta go back up right away and do it again!” Seth: “I gotta make them look better, I saw it on the camera and I was like bahh!” Eric: “Now you do 100 more and you develop your own style. Everyone thinks stuff comes easy and it
doesn’t.” Seth: “no, it never comes easy. When I was a kid I would learn new tricks all the time. You know, like you’re not stuck in your ways, but I was stuck jumping a
certain way for my entire life. I’m 34 years old… I’ve been jumping for over 20
years, which is stupid to even think. So now I can work on bar spins!” Eric: “yeah bar spins will be easy!” Seth: “should I just go try and throw a bar spin?” Eric: “you shouldn’t try and throw a bar spin, you should throw bar spin.” With my newfound ability to take
hands off my bike I was dead set on learning bar spins before Eric left, but
we were losing light fast. Seth: “oh I would have had it! I would have had it so good!” Each time I hit the jump I had to decide whether I was in the right position to
throw the bars, and with the light fading quickly, I wasn’t feeling so confident. By the time I had made two barspin
attempts, it was getting really dark. Our cameras went into potato mode, and I
finally decided it was a bad idea to keep trying bar spins that day. Seth: “I’m gonna put it down. If we just had like another 15 minutes a day light…” Eric: “we can focus on what you didn’t get, or we can focus on that you put 25 tries into the suey, and you
hate taking your hands off your bars, and you’ve got that!” Seth: “I attemted the bar spin twice, I know I’m gonna get it soon but I want to get it today!” Eric: “you’re growing up, Seth you’re making good adult decisions.” Eric: “that was so sick!”
After finally landing a trick, the work has really just begun. You need to go
back out and do the trick bigger and better. Even if you don’t have a training tool
like an air bag you can still learn tricks like no-handers. You’ll need to
hit the same jump over and over get your body position right, take your fingers
off, and then finally both hands. Do it safely. Do it in tiny increments. At 34
years old I’m happy to report that landing a new trick feels the same as it
did 20 years ago. Unfortunately, not landing it feels decidedly worse than it
did 20 years ago, but I guess that just comes with age. Thanks for riding with me today and I’ll see you next time. Seth: “really late on that one—oh that’s not
good.” Pat: “No no” Seth: “no I’m afraid that’s not good.”