Help: I want to sit and pedal in berms

Hi Lee, I have recently completed my own pump track based on your great Pump Track Nation handbook!

Anyway, to my question: I seem to be able to carry reasonable speed on the roller straights but struggle to carry speed through the corners. Once in the corner I have a desire to sit down on my saddle and find that I need to pedal to help keep momentum.

How much of this is my poor technique vs. my poor trail building skills…

Appreciate any help!

Cheers, Russell (from New Zealand)

Hey Russell,

Thanks for writing.

I see you bought a copy of Welcome to Pump Track Nation 45 minutes before you emailed me. I doubt you built your track that fast, but I appreciate you paying up before you asked for free advice.

BTW: My stats show A LOT of people get Welcome to Pump Track Nation without paying for it. What do you people do to feed your babies? Do you mind if I steal some of it?

Russell, thanks for paying. The advice:

Make sure your track is built properly

Compare Russell’s 180 with …

Great tracks are all about subtleties. If you follow the advice in Welcome to Pump Track Nation — I mean really follow it — you will get a sweet track. 2010 Sea Otter pro track, SoCal high school track, Keystone/Giant track, Superior Bike park track, 2011 Sea Otter pro track … they were all built (or will be built) according to WTPTN specs.

Your track is not built quite right.

Carefully read Welcome to Pump Track Nation. Measure twice. Dig once.

Oops, too late. Bad karma?

Desire to sit

… this 180 at Superior Bike Park. Photo by Collin Zimmerman.

If you want to sit in the berm it’s probably due to some combination of:

• You’re not balanced enough. Strive for light hands and heavy feet. Check out Mastering Mountain Bike Skills or Pro BMX Skills or look for free tips on this site.

• You’re not strong enough. A meek 1G turn drives 1.4 times your body weight into your bike (hopefully your pedals). That’s a lot of force. Way more than most cyclists are used to. Get stronger. Soon you’ll be pulling 3Gs.

• You’re not used to this. Ripping a pump track demands tons of balance, power, endurance and skill. Start slow. Focus on great execution. Everything will come together.

Desire to pedal

Free sneak peak from Mastering Mountain Bike Skills

Note: Most riders find it difficult to gain speed in 180s. When I design pump tracks for civilians, I place 180s at the ends of fast sections.

If you feel like you need to pedal through a berm, it’s probably due to some combination of:

• The berm and its neighboring rollers are not built correctly. The entrance roller is critical. It must transition smoothly into the belly of the corner. Make the banks as steep as possible.

• You are not pumping correctly. Keep in mind that a berm is just like the trough between two rollers, only it’s sideways. Heavy in, light out. You have to dial in your straight-line pumping and your basic cornering before you can pump a corner. Mastering Mountain Bike Skills or Pro BMX Skills. Pro BMX Skills explains pump in crazy detail.

• You are going too slow. Pin that straight and lay into the corner!

With both dirt and body, pay attention to the details. Execute perfectly. Build carefully. Rip it.

Good luck — and thanks again for paying.


— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

Join the leelikesbikes mailing list:

15 replies

Comments are closed.