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 do you slowdown when you come to an obstacle or change in the terrain? 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 – Pumping
Pump tracks are a great safe environment to have a ‘play’. Do not expect to perfect or ace these skills on your first attempt. Like most things, if you give something time, if you practise, the improvements and rewards will come. But first lets…
Set up – the bike
- This is not essential but may help with ease and feel when you are learning and developing pump track skills. The ideal for pumping is using a hard tail bike – that is a bike with no rear shocks. If you have rear shocks then lock them out. It means that the energy you are trying to generate by pushing into the terrain will not be absorbed by the bike (because that is what shocks are designed to do). Drop your seat – you drop the seat to get it out of the way during the push down action when you pump.
Remember it is likely that when you are out riding you will not have this set up. For example on the trail your rear shocks may not be locked and your seat may not be dropped – so please don’t get hung up on this, don’t make it a barrier to getting out there and giving it a go. Ultimately, if you want these pump track skills to be transferable to your other riding then you need to learn to ride the pump track on the bike, in the set up, that you normally ride.
- Do your 30 second pre-ride check, make sure your bike is safe to ride.
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, and Tip 4 – Breathing. You are working towards riding pump tracks without sitting on the seat of the 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 look ahead (1 to 2 metres) and be chosing your riding line. Look where you want to ride.
If your set up is sorted, lets get into the task.
Pumping action – this riding technique is used as you go over the rollers. You are wanting to be light on the way up the roller so you are absorbing energy and heavy on the way down the roller. On the way down you are releasing, you are pushing that absorbed energy into the down side of the roller, into the terrain to generate speed and momentum.
- Up the roller – think light – shift your body weight slightly backwards on the bike and bend the elbows as you absorb energy going up the roller
- Crest – let the bike come up under you with you weight centred and knees bent
- Down the roller – think heavy – shift your body weight slightly backwards again and think heavy – push down into the terrain with your legs (your hips, knees and ankles). Your arms can help but the power will come from your legs.
Sound challenging? It is – but with practise you start to get the feel of when you generate momentum and speed on the down side of the roller.
I am having heaps of fun on the pump track working on my pumping 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.