Readers question

Hey Lee,

I’ve been following your career for awhile now, and am always impressed by your pump track advocacy and advice. I have the book you wrote with Lopes on my kindle. I’ve built my own stuff on private land.

Here’s my question: tons of people talk about good cornering technique, and then I saw your video about pumping on flat ground. It’s awesome! I’ve been practicing it the past couple of days, as I’ve always been nervous in corners, and I’ve found that I can go from a track-stand to around 10mph uphill and down. Now my question is this: How practical is this drill for trail riding? It seems super practical, easy and fun to me, but I’ve never seen it before and not many people seem into it. Is it because the same rules don’t apply as much at higher speeds?

Thanks for taking time to read this!


Lees response

Hey Philip,

Thanks for writing, and for the interesting question.

What are we talking about?

How to pump a flat surface

Video: pumping a figure eight

This video is old, and my technique is a lot cleaner now, but here’s the idea:

Click to see the video!

And a more advanced version:

Click to see the video!

Again, I’m a lot cleaner now. I’ll post fresh videos when I can.


Goals of this drill:

  • Learn to move your bike independently from your body. This helps all aspects of riding.
  • Intentionally control the pressure between your tires and the ground. This helps increase traction. Have you wondered how some riders can snap turns in the loosest conditions? This is how.
  • Learn to pump in the lateral plane. A turn is just like a hole in the ground — just sideways.
  • Be rad.

Real-life application

I employ this skill every time I ride trail.

  • The act of engaging with the turn increases traction and control in every situation. This isn’t just for slalom-style turns; you can work the edges in single long-radius turns too. Watch the Danny Hart video below.
  • lee-pumping-corners
  • The more energy you press into a turn, the more energy redirects the bike into the next turn. And the more energy you direct into that turn, the more energy redirects into the next turn, and on and on. Great riding is cyclical: up and down, side to side and all over the place — a big, beautiful sine wave of love.

Watch seconds 22-26 of this video. This is the Fox pump track, but the skill applies to any tight, curvy trail.

Watch seconds 17-20 of this video:

Brian Lopes. 1:32 and 2:56. 1n 1992 Lopes and I were riding down the road on the way to an XC ride, and he pulled this move through some traffic cones. I was pedaling, and he was going faster. At the time it seemed like black magic. Now I know his secrets.

X-Fusion and Brian Lopes Part 2 on Pinkbike

And then there’s this! Danny Hart uses bits of this technique all the time. Obvious examples at seconds 15-16, 36-37, 2:10-2:12

I’m sure the kind readers out there can post more examples in the comments.

I hope this is helpful. Rip it!



About Lee

Lee McCormack of is a world renowned mountain bike skills instructor and author, as well as an experienced journalist with a Pulitzer Prize. He works with riders of all types and levels, and as the skills development director for the U.S. nation high school mountain bike association, he creates the teaching curriculum and trains coaches to help young riders shred safely.

Lee wrote the books Mastering Mountain Bike Skills, Teaching Mountain Bike Skills, Pro BMX Skills, Welcome to Pump Track Nation, Pump Up the Base and Prepare to Pin It. Lee is Enduro Mag’s new skills expert as well as North American correspondent.

If you have a question for Lee, email him at

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