Bumps and pot holes, jumping and dampening

When you’re cycling on the open road you occasionally come across a pot hole. If you’re riding in a group and cannot look ahead, you might not see them or see them too late. Therefore, we signal each other.
Sometimes you can ride around it, sometimes not. You don’t ride around a hole because you don’t want to endanger the folks behind you, so you ride through the pot hole.
If you ride through a pot hole, you may get a hit. If things go wrong, you get a ‘snake bite, or worse.

If you do ride through a pot hole, you shouldn’t stiffen up, but you should use your arms and legs to absorb the shock. There are two ways to do that: you jump, or you dampen.

To jump
If you see a pot hole if front of you that is not too big or too long, you can jump over it. You tuck in, and release just before you would hit the pot hole. In skiing, the German term ‘Hochentlastung’ is sometimes used. You would also use this technique to jump on a sidewalk. With a bit of training you can even pull up your rear wheel. But be careful! If you don’t make it across the pot hole, you’ll hit the hole, or worse, the (sharp) edge of that hole, twice as hard!

To dampen
The other way to make it across a pot hole is to lower your arms when you ride through it. You dampen the brunt of the blow. In skiing, the German term ‘Tiefentlastung’ is coined to this technique.

Sometimes you cannot see the pot hole. It is to your advantage if you can use the dampening technique as a reflex. By practicing the dampening reflex, it will become an automatic response. You can be amazed by the ways your body resolves issues in a smart way, and well before you can even think about solving them. But practice and exercise gave you that upper hand. Those who engage in mountain biking or cyclo crossing learn this technique almost automatically. If you only ride on tarmac, you need to consciously practice this technique.