I was at the Eagan Pump and Jump Park last Wednesday for the first time in many weeks. I went straight to the beginner jumps and couldn’t do anything. I spent the next 20 minutes on the beginner pump track, got the hang of it again, THEN went back to the jumps and VOILA! I actually got close to clearing a couple of the table tops. Nothing that would be visible to anyone else but the difference in how I felt going over them was huge.
When I got home, I grabbed the book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack (first recommended to me by Chance Glasford) and re-read Chapter 9: Jump With the Greatest of Ease.
When I first read that chapter (months ago, before I had any real interest in learning to jump), this sentence stood out (page 144):
If you can’t hop a curb, you have no business jumping.
So that’s when I decided that learning to bunny hop and learning to manual were the skills I was going to focus on this year. I learned the connection between pumping and doing a manual back in July (Learn to pump at a pump park. Singletrack flow trails will never be the same) but I’ve not mastered the bunny hop yet so I’ve not really considered trying to learn to jump.
But on pages 140-141 of the book, there is a section titled Prerequisite Skills (“Before you take to the air, you must be smooth and consistent with these skills:”) and they list these five: 1) Attack position; 2) Hopping; 3) Dropping to flat and downslopes; 4) Pumping; and 5) Doing all this with flat pedals.
The blurb on hopping:
Hopping teaches you to load and unload your bike. The higher you can hop, the more boost you can get off jumps. It also teaches you flight skills.
The blurb on pumping:
Pumping is perhaps the holy grail of all riding skills. It teaches you to load and unload in time with the terrain, and it trains you to let your bike follow an arc while you stay centered over your pedals.
For some reason, it never got through my thick skull that hopping, pumping, and jumping were all connected via the ‘load and unload’ motion. But looking at my photos of Chance riding the pump tracks (more here), I can see it now.
The connection between pumping and jumping got permanently embedded into my brain/muscle memory last week. I’m now psyched to work at bringing bunny hopping into the mix.
Props to Chance (follow his blog here) for all the work he’s done on the Eagan Pump and Jump Park and for pestering me to buy the book, Mastering Mountain Bike Skills. FYI, that link to the book happens to have these three image excerpts of pages 143-145 from Chapter 9: Jump With the Greatest of Ease.