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Video: Finding Fluidity on the Dirt Jumper

Oct 28, 2021 at 8:12
by Canyon  

Why Trails?

In a world where progression, pushing the envelope and covering new ground is everything - it can feel like the process of refining, crafting and striving for perfection can get a little lost.

Look at the compounds of some of the world’s best slopestyle athletes - the jumps are getting bigger, features are refreshed each year and specialist equipment, such as airbags, are now commonplace. And who can fault this approach? Ultimately, this gives the athlete the best chance of getting to the next contest with a winning run full of insane tricks.

At the other end of the scale, the creativity and bike handling required for quick and dirty jibs keep entertaining us year after year. Sketchy setups, fails and then the satisfaction of rolling away is undeniably fun. Then, once the session is over or the trick is landed, riders typically look for new zones or features to tackle.

But in recent years one of the most special forms of MTB has arguably fallen out of the spotlight. Trails. And no, not those trails.

Trails. Front and centre. Photo by Matt Weintritt
Trails. Front and centre. Photo by Matt Weintritt

Trail Love

Dirt Jumps, Trails, whatever your preferred name, when done right, has an almost ASMR quality to it. Riders flowing from take-off to landing, through hips, step-downs, step-ups, berms and everything in between. No sketchiness, no heavy landings (usually)- just the satisfying sound of rock-hard tyres buzzing on smooth dirt and freewheels clicking through the air.

This fluidity isn’t something that happens by accident- and requires the coming together of several factors.

Creating The Perfect Set

First of all, the jumps themselves. Lines rarely work first time and are modified over many winters to get each set just right. Dialling in elevation change to make the most of landings and the terrain, shaping berms and rollers to maximise pump, and perfecting transitions for a quintessential Trails trait – pull up! Everything takes time and is a matter of trial, error and experience.

The next factor is the rider. Brian Foster – arguably the most iconic trail rider of the last 20 years - once said that an individual’s true style comes out on their first run through a set of jumps. Speed, pump, pull and line choice, amongst other things, can completely change the way a set rides – get it wrong and you won’t make it through.

No 27.5 vs 29er questions here. At the trails 20 24 or 26 inch are your options. Phil s gone with the Canyon Stitched link to https country lang mountain-bikes dirt-jump-bikes that rolls on 26 . Photo by Matt Weintritt
No 27.5 vs 29er questions here. At the trails 20, 24 or 26 inch are your options. Phil’s gone with the Canyon Stitched that rolls on 26’’. Photo by Matt Weintritt

Finally, even after your line is perfect and exactly where you want it, there’s the maintenance. Trails need constant attention so that the line is smooth, fast and properly watered. Not to mention the constant battle with mother nature – drainage needs to be dialled, properly installed tarps are essential and composting leaves are kept out of the line.

Some serious graft and shovel skills to get to this stage . Photo by Rick Crossman
Some serious graft and shovel skills to get to this stage. Photo by Rick Crossman

While Trails might not be such a focus for the MTB audience these days, the core community of Dirt Jumpers is still strong. And given the dedication and skill required to create a truly dialled set of trails, this should come as no surprise.

Every good spot has an even better crew. Photo by Matt Weintritt. mjweintritt
Every good spot has an even better crew. Photo by Matt Weintritt.

We figured it was long overdue to celebrate Trails again. The digging, the shaping, the riding- none of the magic has been lost. So, sit back and enjoy some great riding, on an awesome line.

Trail vibes. Photo by Matt Weintritt
Trail vibes. Photo by Matt Weintritt

With crews of riders and builders putting hours of time into digging and maintaining their local spots, understandably there is a bit of a protective factor when it comes to sharing the locations of their creations. So, regarding the whereabouts of these trails, our lips are sealed.

But creating your own set or gaining the trust of the crew at your local spot is not out of the question. Everyone has to start somewhere, and when it comes to jumps you can be sure that some shovel work is going to be one of the first steps. Trust us when we say- the extra time and effort required makes those clean runs through some dialled trails worth every second.

Featuring: Phil Auckland

Supported by: Canyon Bicycles


  • 40 0
 Why does it look so easy on video and so terrifying IRL?
  • 7 0
 As an old dude, I can't up vote this enough !
  • 20 0
 Well said. Trails have saved my sanity over the last couple of years. Being able to get out in the woods even in the winter to make changes, and do the hard work so you can ride all summer and fall, is so therapeutic for me.

It can be pretty frustrating when stuff doesn't work and needs to be changed. It also sucks when they are not on private property like mine are now, and get poached, changed, and tools stolen.

It used to be DJ for me when the lifts closed. But now driving an hour out to the park, spending $60 for a lift ticket to get in 10 runs, and sit in all the traffic all the way home, along with all the gear I wear now since I got broken off so many times just doesn't add up anymore. I like being close to home on a simple bike/cheap bike.

There's also nothing like riding stuff you built... You want to improve your bike skills, start riding trails or pump track.

Long live trails, articles, pics, and videos about them. I love seeing what others have built. I know how much work it takes.
  • 6 0
 The simplicity is what keeps me. I could ride/dig on the same dj line all day, week, month, year and never get bored.
  • 13 1
 I ride 22" at the trails. Don't leave us out.
  • 2 1
 22 is the secret sauce
  • 12 1
 Electric Wizzard T. No metal soundtrack? Don’t tease us like that…
  • 1 1
 this 100%
  • 8 0
 there will never be any more flow than when riding a well built line of dirt jumps. And sooooo good for your skills! and cheap(-ish) bikes. Which begs the question: why did I sell my dj bike??
  • 1 0
 Definitely a poor life choice! Haha
  • 8 0
 When Matty Aquizap is in the picture you know the trails are gonna be dialed. That guy rips.
  • 7 0
 Dr. Auckland showing us what's real
  • 3 0
 And now I wanna try !
  • 7 0
 36 one hand table top is dooope !!!
  • 3 0
 I’ve always admired trail riders…the flow, simple bikes, no need to travel out into the woods for hours to have a good time. Just seems like the ultimate scene (not to mention I wouldn’t have to sweat wheel sizes or drivetrains). Unfortunately, no matter how hard I wanted to do this myself over the years the learning curve was just too steep. Almost every good spot to ride was already built up so big that it was for experts only (or beginners willing to break bones to join the club). By now I think I’m getting to old to really dive in even if I wanted too but it would be nice to see more places where kids could learn the DJ skills without the big risk.
  • 1 0
 I feel like I'm in the same boat. I decided that pump tracks are probably a better way to learn flow and skills without the excessive (for some of us) risk of big jumps. I keep reading about communities putting in pump tracks, but it seems to be happening very slowly.
  • 3 0
 There really isn't any better place to learn than a skate park! Every park will usually have a "box" feature with a steep quarterpipe to a sloped landing. Get good at getting air to the flat top, then push a little farther until you land in the sweet spot of the sloped side. Thats what really unlocked the ability to take off with speed on steep lips for me. There is no better time than now! Pump tracks will never teach you how to take off of steep lips which you absolutely need to know for riding trails.
  • 1 0
 @ADGproductions: I hear ya on the pump track thing…all they teach you is timing and well, pumping. All good things but dirt jumps are a special beast. Ironically, after 20 years of DH riding I can jump pretty well so it’s not airtime that gives me problems, but as soon as the jumps get steep and lippy I’m lost.
  • 1 0
 The answer is BMX and skateparks. Thats where those skills are built up, and it's dirt cheap relatively.
  • 1 0
 @b-mack: A total other beast! A good dj spot is hard to come by but being able to ride the smaller lines and progressively hit the bigger lines is a great learning tool too.
  • 2 0
 I was fortunate when I learned. The main trail builder had some huge lines (20' gaps and 6' lips in the late 90' early 00's) but he also maintained a super fun rhythm section that were true doubles with only about 3' lips and small 3-5' gaps so it was great warmup for the advanced riders and great learning for the beginners as the risk wasn't huge, but being real doubles you were forced to be precise.

I haven't seen many trails with such great progression and wish more would keep it in mind.
  • 2 0
 yay trails!! What a great edit. I love good hip hop in a trails edit, and the riding was top notch.
  • 3 0
 Wore my Fast and Loose hoodie on the right day. This gets me so hyped.
  • 1 0
 I don't get why "trails", those are still dirt jumps to me. Also, I thought this video would be about "finding fluidity", obviously this guy already found it.
  • 1 0
 I usually think of "Trails" as jump lines with berms and rollers and basically whatever feature you want but are about getting flow to get through and don't necessarily have trickable jumps, they often have several options to change up the direction

"Dirt Jumps" are a feature in Trails, but have been more recently defined as shorter sets with more emphasis on trickable features.

Anyone else want to pitch in some other thoughts?
  • 3 0
 The Blue Falcon would approve of that one handed table '3
  • 3 1
 Great story! Great rider! Great trails people. But jumping BMX trails on MTB is like blow job in a condom.
  • 2 0
 That's some serious hang time.
  • 3 0
 Trails life.
  • 2 0
 Big trail jumps hell yeah!
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 I think that’s the first “3 no footed can” I’ve ever seen! So smooth and trails look amazing.
  • 2 1
 I thought a trail is something you ride a trail bike on.
  • 4 0
 You have to understand, the. Term “trails” was coined bacjpk before MTB even existed. When local kids had their BMX bikes, we’d say we were going to ride our “trails”. This always referred to our jumps in the local woods. Of course our trails weren’t as big as these but yeah…same…same.
  • 3 2
 @bikebike69: Thanks for that take. We rode BMX and cruisers and built jumps in the desert in the late 60s–80s. Nobody called it riding trails. We just called it riding in the desert.
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 TRAILS. f*ck yeah!
  • 1 0
 Yeah Phil! Killing it

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