Since last seeing him a few months ago, Jessie has conquered all the jumps at Barrett Road except one. His dad was at risk of losing more hair because it was so obvious that he was capable of doing it. We just needed to play this right.
Fear does funny things to people, so the first thing I needed to do was take the pressure off. With dad leaving me to it, I had Jessie and the two older lads simply practicing the best way to jump and land hard safely, by gripping the seat with their knees and soaking the landing with the rest of their body. That especially included relaxing their arms so there was no load on the handlebars, ducking low enough on landing that they could have snuck right under a truck but still without any risk of smacking into the handlebars.
Next, we went back for a drinks break and worked on some starts and turns. All the while his mind would have been going over all that he needed to do, realising that he could now handle the hardest possible landing on that jump without risk of injury.
For the last session it “Just happened” that this loop also included the 100 footer, with no mention of clearing the jump at all. That was when one of the older boys started clearing it, and I couldn’t help but point it out to Jessie, who replied with an intense sounding “Yeah, I know.” A few jumps later the pressure was finally ramped back up with his dad also getting in on the act, until it got to the point where we were both backing up the confidence that he would be perfectly safe to give it a go. A few photos of the hardest landings helped confirm this, and off he went once again.
His dad and I then went further down the track until we were almost out of sight, and that is when he first cleared it. There was smiles and thumbs up all round, but Jessie didn’t stop, he wasn’t done yet.
To be honest I was most nervous for this second attempt. Because he didn’t stop, I couldn’t tell him to make sure that he didn’t go any easier on his next jump. I have too many riders relaxing just a little once they had finally completed a jump for the first time, only to land a little short that second time. But Jessie was a pro and cleared it even better the second time, after which we could finally rejoice properly.
Great fear is no fun at the time, but this is exactly what makes the reward of overcoming a new jump so much sweeter. Jessie said it was the best coaching session of his life. His dad also must have been as stoked as I was.