STORY LYNDON HEFFERNAN PHOTOGRAPHY MATT BERNARD
The drop-off in this shot is pretty extreme. My first tip is to do learn on something way smaller than this one, as it’s pretty easy to get it wrong and the consequences could be pretty big on a large drop-off.
I’ve had to negotiate huge drop-offs like this only twice in my years as a tour operator, both times as a result of flash flooding. Once was in Narooma this year after a summer cyclone that washed away bridges and causeways. The other time was the Mitchell River floods in Victoria, which ripped through many of Gippsland’s best trails.
I had to ride a few customers’ bikes down these drops as I always maintain discretion is the best part of valour. So if there is any chance of real danger you have three other options: find a way around, get somebody more experienced to do it for you, or let the bike slide off the edge. If you think you have the guts then make sure your technique is sound.
Stand up very central on the bike as you take-off. You will need a little bit of throttle as you launch to make sure the front doesn’t drop, which is the biggest danger.
Once airborne like Korey McMahon is here, move back a little and get ready for the impact. The impact will be pretty big and you’ll use all the suspension on your bike and your body, so you need to make sure arms and legs are slightly bent to maximize your suspension and also to land with both wheels at the same time if possible.
Here his front is slightly lower, but his weight is back and about to get on the power ready for landing and looking to bring the front wheel up a bit.
The big blip of the throttle upon landing is very important to drive away from the landing, and it’s still going to land with a huge thud! I also let my arms and legs absorb but not fold on impact. Another important tip is not to get too far back as you take off, as it can force the back end to bottom out more than the front, which can then flick you over the bars if you don’t give it enough throttle on landing.
That is why it’s critical to get the technique and timing right on small drop-offs first, and move up to bigger ones once you have it all nailed. Stand up very central on the bike as you take-off. You will need a little bit of throttle as you launch to make sure the front doesn’t drop, which is the biggest danger.