Pumping > pedalling
How did DH star Aaron Gwin win the Leogang World Cup without a chain? He pumped to the podium- it’s an easy skill and everyone should be taking advantage of the free speed that can be gained.
Pumping isn’t just for the pump track however, there’s plenty of opportunity to get your pump on no matter what trail you’re on. We’ve identified four key features which are great for pumping to improve your riding.
Rollers on natural trails can be tough to spot but they will give you an injection of speed for little effort. Look out for undulations or lumps and bumps in the trail — anything smooth and sloping downwards — and try to push the bike into it, mirroring the shape of the trail with your body and bike.
Think of a built up, bermed corner as a roller on its side — the solid earth under your wheels will give you all the grip you need to hold your speed and even pump to increase it. Try pushing the bike into the first part of the berm and feel your momentum building as you extend your legs, then pop out of the end of the berm faster than you went in.
Most of the speed boost from jumping comes from pushing the bike into the landing. In effect you’re using your weight to pump the bike forwards and faster, so get airborne as much as possible.
We’re not talking about jumping 45ft tabletops here like Gwin boosted in Leogang, but anything you see on the trail — little rock slabs, earth ramps, a lattice of roots — can do the trick. Remember to push your bike into the downslope and pump that free speed.
Watch how to get your jumping sorted with Olly Wilkins here
Flying through the air is always faster than rolling on the ground because there’s nothing to hit — no roots to slow your forward momentum and no friction from the trail.
Deal with roots in one of three ways. You can use one as a take-off and gap the rest of them. If they’re too slick-looking, try to bunny-hop over the lot. The easiest option is sometimes to press the bike into the ground before the root and then go light as you cross the slippery devils.