Once Cade had learned the importance of speed, it was onto learning how to get height. Quite fortuitously, a guy named Matt Barnett had spent his 2020 Lockdown on building a jump park about 4km from our home.
By Sean Badenhorst
Cade jumping at a night session at the Dowgbox.
The Dowgbox is a bike-jumper’s dream! There’s a steep drop-in that gives you five different line options each with varying level of jumps, gap jumps and step-ups. At first, Cade was nervous to give it a try. But once he’d ridden the left ‘easiest’ line, his confidence began to build.
While I too am on this Mind-the-Gap journey, the Dowgbox is just too formidable for me. I am self-employed and have to avoid doing anything too risky because if I can’t type, I can’t work. I’m sticking with safe jumps, which basically means jumps with shallower take-offs as steep-lip jumps are where you gain height at a lower speed. It’s this height and lower speed that worry me. But fortunately, Cade has grown to embrace it.
The jumps at the Dowgbox deliver good height. | Photo credit: Matt Barnett
The Dowgbox has become Cade’s go-to local jump spot. It’s been fantastic in that it’s given a ‘home’ to him and other senders in Northern Joburg. Matt organises night sessions with floodlights and a food truck. It’s exactly what the senders need. By doing regular sessions at the Dowgbox, Cade has been able to build his confidence in clearing medium-sized gap jumps.
Because this environment attracts a lot of skilled riders, he also became inspired to try a few tricks, including Tailwhips, T-bogs and Suicide-no-handers. These names are enough to make a parent shudder and be relieved to have family medical aid cover.
So, to achieve the height he requires, it’s really just been a matter of hitting steeper jumps consistently. The Dowgbox has provided the ideal next step in Cade’s jumping journey. Unfortunately, the Dowgbox was forced to close for a while because an environmental impact study had to be done to confirm it doesn’t negatively affect its location. When it reopens, Cade will be aiming to hit some of the steeper lines to increase his height even more.
He’s also been practising his bunny hops because this technique is what you mimmick on a jump. It’s essentially five key steps:
- Pull back and down to get your weight back and the front wheel up and unweighted.
- Pump and slide the bike forward underneath you.
- Keep your arms straight and look ahead – avoid pulling up on the bars, let the bike lift on its own, helped by the angle of the lip
- Let the back wheel roll up the whole lip which should pop you up high.
- While in the air, adjust your weight forward, by pushing the front wheel forward with the objective of landing smoothly on the landing front wheel first or at the same time as the rear.
So far, Cade has been on his Mind-the-Gap journey with relatively minimal protective gear. He uses a Specialized Ambush Comp helmet, which is a trail-style helmet with some extra head cover on the back and sides. Because he isn’t a big risk-taker he feels this is sufficient and a full-face helmet would be uncomfortable and impractical for the kind of jumping he’s currently doing. It also has an ANGi function which is essentially a built-in accelerometer that detects if he comes to a sudden stop, which may happen in a crash. It sends a SMS and GPS location pin to a contact (he has chosen his Mum as this recipient). It hasn’t activated yet, but it’s a good safety feature to have.
He also uses Specialized Atlas knee pads. These are fairly soft pads that offer knee protection, but which are comfortable to wear (you don’t feel the need to push them down when pedalling). He also tends to wear long pants (tracksuit or jeans) when jumping, but I think this is more for looks than protection.
Cade’s protection so far is the trail-style Specialized Ambush Comp helmet and the Specialized Atlas soft knee pads, which fit well under his jeans.
That’s it. That’s his protection currently. I suppose he could wear a neck support and elbow pads, but he feels these would be too much for what he is doing currently. As I have said before, Cade isn’t reckless, he’s a calculated risk taker and that means he may take longer to conquer a challenge, but he knows he’s ready when he does it.
In Part 4, we head to Grootfontein Bike Park with jump coach, Barry Crouse to see how Cade (and I) are doing at the venue where Cade is planning to clear the big road gap.
If you missed the previous editions of Mind-the-Gap and want to catch up on the early stages, you can find them here:
Follow Cade’s Mind the Gap progress on Instagram: @cade_bad_rides