Longish post but in short how do you learn to dirt-jump properly?
I saw Brendan Semenuk's clip in From the Inside Out last night at Union Chapel and am inspired to spend this summer learning to dirt jump properly. It's always eluded me.
Does anyone have any tips on how to take this to the next level? I'm competent (one might even say good, occasionally) at general flowy mountain biking jumps, even big ones 30 feet long. But what I can't do are large, quasi-BMX style doubles with a vertical lip - the really big stuff like what you see in the footage above. I can whip the bike out nicely and hip jump the bike 90 degrees in each direction, but I can't tabletop and want to do so.
Partly I can't do proper doubles because I've always been using a full suspension bike with a long wheelbase, which isn't the right tool for the job - so I want to procure an appropriate hardtail, preferably steel, and wonder if anyone has any recommendations (I'm currently using an On One Inbred but expect that's got the wrong geometry).
But enough about the bike, what's the technique/best way to learn? I expect there's no risk-free way and lots of big crashes will come my way. At the moment I'm just launching off everything in sight on my commute, with pedals in flat mode (SPDs obviously out of the question for this kind of thing).
People I ride with have said that my jumping is dependent on SPDs - that I pull too much with my feet instead of pushing the bike away with my arms. I notice that when I ride with flats, I tend to "dead sailor" a lot, and have difficulty moving the bike around fluidly beneath me when I'm in the air. My knees aren't bent enough - I think that's why I can't tabletop, mentioned above.
One thing I've found is that since I began climbing and my upper body has got stronger, my jumping has improved too (but not enough).
Also are there any publicly known spots near London? Teddington, Wisley and Banstead had great doubles BITD but I don't know if they're still there or if there's anything a little more central. Not Council-approved moderate BMX tracks, I mean proper hardcore illicit deathtrap places where there's a penalty for failure!