I get a lot more out of a task or an activity if I have purpose and some goals – it gives me more enjoyment. How about you? Riding a pump track was something fun I did with the kids but now that I have more insight about the purpose of pump tracks and what they can offer my riding – I love them!
In our prevoius story – The Ups of Pump Tracks – we learnt that riding pump tracks will give you a feel for balance. How both your bike and body react as you ride over the differing terrain, slopes, rollers and corners etc. That improved feel and confidence may be all you want from riding a pump track and that is great. However if you want more, pump tracks can offer you more…
Ultimately gaining and refining skills on the pump track (such as cornering and pumping) will help you learn how to use the terrain to get smoothness, flow and a more constant speed into your ride. Do you have a riding style where you ride heavy and thud over obstacles? Or are you more the slowdown when you come to an obstacle or change in the terrain type? With improved pump track skills you will develop a more flowing style where you will start to glide over obstacles and changes in terrain, be able to maintain a more constant speed and improve your control on the bike.
Sound good? Then lets get you started!
Pump Track Skills – Cornering
Pump tracks are a great safe environment to have a ‘play’. Do not expect to perfect or ace these skills on your first attempt. But like most things, if you give something time, if you practise, the improvement and the rewards will come.
First you need to set up for the task.
Set up – the bike
- Do your 30 second pre-ride check, make sure your bike is safe to ride. You may like to drop your seat so it is not in the way as you change the position of your hips. This may be helpful while you are learning the skill. However if you want these pump track skills to be transferable to your other riding then you should move your seat back up to its normal position once you have the feel for the skill. Alternatively just keep the seat at its normal riding height.
Set up – the rider
- Riding position – You need to ride in the ‘A’ position with a strong core and loose limbs. Your chest should be open and your arms in the relaxed ‘C’ shape. Your legs need to be loose and relaxed to allow for movement at the hip, knee and ankle joints. Basically you are using your chi riding platform. See Tip 1 – Riding position, Tip 2 – Core control, Tip 4- Breathing. You are working towards riding a pump track without sitting on the seat of your bike. That is you will have 2 points of contact with your bike; your feet on the pedals and hands on the handlebars.
- Riding line – Your head needs to be up and you need to be looking ahead (1 to 2 metres) and chosing your riding line. Look where you want to ride.
If your set up is sorted, lets get into the task.
Cornering – pump tracks often have lovely ‘c’ shaped corners for you to use to gain confidence and skills in cornering. Make sure you ride the pump track in both directions so you get practise at cornering to the left and the right. Here are some things for you to try and work towards with your cornering;
- As mentioned above keep your head up and look ahead into the corner. Your head leads and your shoulders and trunk (upper body) will naturally follow. When in the corner look ahead through the corner and out through the exit.
- Try and make the corner as large as possible – this will ensure you start to use as much of the track as possible – you will start to use the berms.
Have a go at leaning the bike into the corner. Start small and just get the feel.
- To understand how to lean you need to understand balance. To keep balance your centre of mass (think of your centre of mass as your tummy button) has to be over your base of support. If your centre of mass moves outside your base of support you will lose your balance. Try this to help your understanding – stand with both your feet on the ground. Keeping your body straight lean forward from the ankles – what happened? You took a step, I hope. When you leaned forward your centre of mass moved outside your base of support and you needed to react by taking a step to get your base of support back under your centre of mass – to keep your balance. We do this every time we take a step in walking.
- In biking, our bike pedals (and the area between them) = our base of support, so we have to keep of centre of mass over this pedal area.. Therefore when we lean our bike we need to alter the position of our centre of mass to match the base of support – to keep balance. Ladies we need to get our hips on the move here – move your hips out and away from the bike seat to bring your centre of mass over the base.
- To help you achieve your lean
- lean into and push weight down into the inside hand
- Try and maintain speed throughout the corner
When you ride a pump track don’t feel like you need to practise all the parts of cornering. Initially you may like to focus on just one, or some of the points above. As your feel and skills improve all the parts will start to come together.
I am having heaps of fun on the pump track working on my lean and cornering and my skills are improving. So find a pump track near you and join me.
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
goRide is a shared journey, so we would like you to assist in guiding it along the way. Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback are welcome. Thank you for being a part of the goRide way.