Category Archives: Learning to ride

Learning to bunny hop: lifting the rear wheel with a rear foot ‘scoop’ motion

Hans "No way" Rey at the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival grand opening Hans "No way" Rey at the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival grand opening
At the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival grand opening last June, I asked Hans “No way” Rey how he was able to leap his bike vertically from a dead stop to the top of a picnic table. He pointed to his calf muscles, explaining that he lifts the rear wheel off the ground with his rear foot pushing back and up against the rear pedal. I didn’t own a mountain bike at the time so this concept didn’t make sense to me.

Nor did it sink in when I blogged back in August about learning to manual and noticed in BikeRadar’s Learning the Manual – Part 4 that there is a sentence about the bunny hop in which the author wrote:

Pushing forward on the bars as you ‘scoop’ backwards against the pedal with your rear foot to lift the rear wheel off the ground will also help.

It wasn’t until I saw this new BikeRadar video on the bunny hop in which Sam Pilgrim isolates the rear wheel lift with the rear foot (Step One in the tutorial) that I ‘got it:’

After just a few minutes of practice today, I was able to use this motion with either foot to clear a curb with my rear wheel. No bunny hop (or is it one word, bunnyhop?) yet, but I’m confident I’ll get it. I’m young yet.

Progress on the skinnies

I’m getting better at the skinnies at Leb. Instinctively leaning the bike instead of turning the handlebars is the key.

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Above: Last week was the first time I made the right hand turn on the man-made skinny. I used a front wheel hop at the apex of the turn.

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Above: I made this log for the first time about 6 weeks ago. Last week, I almost did it again, ending up a couple feet short.

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Above: I got about 3/4 of the way up this log last week. My goal is to get all the way up, do a sharp turn around on the hillside, and then go all the way back down… with no dabs or falling off, of course.

Once that happens, I’ll still have a ways to go. Look at this video for some amazing skinny rides:

Learning to manual: a wheelie with no pedaling

Bikeradar.com manual3-480-90-480-70I made a big step forward last week when I began to understand the difference between a pedal-powered wheelie and a manual. These articles helped me:

I’ve been using it this week to get over larger rocks and logs at speed.  And when I say ‘larger,’ I don’t mean large.  I mean bigger than the curbs on my street. Go ahead and laugh, but it was pretty cool when I got the hang of doing a manual over the curbs repeatedly.  And I can now see a bunny-hop in my future.

Steep climbs with steps

uphill steps at Lebanon HillsI’ve cleaned some steep uphills with steps/logs recently (St. Olaf College, Lebanon Hills) after reading about the techniques in this BetterRide.net blog post:

MTB Skills Tip w/ Pic, Technical Climbing w/Andy Winohradsky

Losing traction, “bogging out”, doing accidental wheelies, and/or getting a case of the “swirvies”, are all common causes of riders not making it to the top of technical descents.

Oh yeah. But I’m now getting the hang of how to do it right.

  • scoot far forward on the saddle
  • lower your chest (nose near the handlebars)
  • keep your elbow elevated
  • only stand slightly and briefly in order to make extreme weight-shifts or grossly accelerate the bike