© Peter Jamison/Red Bull Content Pool
Train Like a Pro: Jaxson Riddle
Freeride mountain bike prodigy Jaxson Riddle shares how he trains to send big lines.
The first time Jaxson Riddle went out to Virgin, Utah, to ride the terrain made famous by Red Bull Rampage, he was 15 and took his BMX bike—the only bike he had. Riddle promptly sold it and bought his first downhill rig. In freeride mountain biking he had found his sport.
Now 20, Riddle has turned the challenging Virgin terrain into his playground and dreams of one day competing at Rampage. A typical day for Riddle might include hitting jumps at the Snake Hollow Bike Park in Saint George, Utah, where he lives; building a new line in Virgin; mastering a high-consequence aerial maneuver; or maybe offering friendly advice to kids at the local skatepark. “I take a lot of inspiration from freestyle motocross,” says Riddle. “I just try to bring those tricks to mountain bikes."
ON THE BIKE
“I don’t really have a set program.”
“I have a lot of respect for people who have a routine and can stick to it, but for me it’s different every day. I try to ride every day, but I don’t have a set amount of time that I spend on the bike. Either I go out to Virgin or go to the skatepark. Then I go ride dirt bikes or go skate.
I just got into skating, and it’s been awesome, because it keeps everything fresh. You expect to be good at something new, because you’re good at riding bikes, but it’s not how it works. There’s always something you can learn."
“I do it in little steps.”
“I’ll just watch a video, like a hundred times. Then I’ll visualize it when I’m out there. I do it in little steps. If it’s a Superman, I’ll do a no-footer. Then I inch my way to the Superman. I ride the jump a couple of times and envision myself doing the trick. I try to work it out in my head at the top of the run-in. Then I’ll go to the jump and try to do what I just visualized.
If I keep trying, and I’m making the same mistake without progress, I’ll take a break until I can come back with a different mindset.”
“Digging is like strength training—and a rest day.”
I go out to Virgin with an open mind and find features that draw from motocross and BMX. I try to imagine how to bring ideas from those sports to mountain bikes. It usually takes three or four days to build a new line, depending on if it rains or is super dry. We attack a line for three days in a row, from sunup to sundown. In the summertime, when it can hit 110 degrees in the middle of the day, we go out there at 4 in the morning. That’s super draining.”
PREPARING TO CRASH
“I have to be as good at crashing as riding.”
“With repetition, you learn how to crash and what not to do. Learning how to push your bike away, so there’s no chance of it landing on you, is helpful. You don’t want that thing hitting you. I try to be calculated and not try things that I don’t know will work. I try to think of the things that could go wrong, so I’m ready.
"And then I’ll breathe three times, in and out, and just try it. Usually it works out. I try to have it pretty dialed. I’m not going from square one to square five.”
"I try to keep it simple."
"There's a sick river spot in Virgin. It's basically freezing, so it's like cold therapy. I also get regular massages and do stretching as well. I don't do yoga as much as I should. I need to get more consistent with it, because I need a lot of hip mobility to do tricks. I do foam rolling and I try to stay on top of stretching."