Pump first – pedal later

This letter comes from a self-professed beginner who has been reading Mastering Mountain Bike Skills and working on his pump. He makes a revolutionary point:


I see you are teaching. Here is a thought…

On a twisty ride to the highest elevation on our trail – lets say 50 ft – really, somehow I am able to put time on people. Here is what I think is going on:

I usually ride in the last postion on no-drop rides, coasting and pumping and getting familiar with every dip and bump – while also keeping folks company.

My foundation for getting around the course is pumping. When I ride in a hurry pedaling gets superimposed on a base of pumping.

I think most people are working off a base of pedaling. Then they try to superimpose pumping on top of that. It does not seem to work as well.

Basically I am copying your pump track technique on the entire trail. As you go faster pumping works even better as up and down slopes get compressed in time down to the scale of a hop (say 1 second). The story [About Shaums March schooling Lee in Whistler] you told about the person who followed you and didn’t even pedal once is motivating, if people choose to believe it!

Thanks for telling the story on your web site.



Yes! You are so right. Pumping — unweighting on the front sides of bumps and weighting on the back sides — is the key not only to speed, but also control, safety and fun.

Make pumping the foundation of your riding. Pedal when you need to go faster. I love that!

— Lee