In the Pump Terrain for Free Speed chapter of Lee McCormack’s book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills, he has a one-pager titled Pump-manualing across two bumps.
This is one of the coolest-looking, sweetest-feeling moves in mountain biking.
Unlike flat-ground manualing, which is all about leaning back, pump-manualing is all about pushing the rear wheel down.
I first discovered I could do this maneuver late last year after I’d learned to pump at the Eagan Bike Park. Only I couldn’t do it on that beginner pump track there.
Instead, I learned it on the rollers in the open field of Leb’s Upper Beginner Loop. I think it’s easier to learn there because A) there are 21 small rollers of varying sizes, spaced apart just right; and B) it’s slightly downhill so you don’t have to pedal but can just concentrate on the technique.
By this summer, I was able to consistently pump-manual across the final two rollers there, with an occasional successful stab at some of the others. As you’ll see in the video below, this fall I was able to do 4 or 5 doubles in a single run down the 21. My next goal is to do a triple. In the meantime, though, it’s a skill that is so fun to put to use on XC/singletrack trails that have some small, smooth rollers spaced closely together. Two that come to mind in the Twin Cities metro area: Elm Creek Park and the new Glenwood loop at Theodore Wirth.
How to learn? Lee McCormack’s tip #3 seems most important to me: “Push down with your legs and pull back with your arms.” I’m not a coach but it also seems to me that if you learn to pump at a pump track in which you can generate some speed with your hips and legs, not just your arms and shoulders, then you’ll be more ready to tackle pump-manualing across two bumps.
There’s more for me to learn: I’m not doing tip #6: “Push down the backside. A sweet manual is only decoration unless you get a great pump on the way out. Push hard and prepare to manual the next pair.”
Here’s a 45-second video, first with a short clip of me riding Leb’s rollers this summer and then another clip from this fall, each with a slow-motion version. A very sweet feeling indeed.