Flow trails and pump tracks are popping up in local parks, private backyards and mountain biking resorts across the nation. You’d be hard pressed to find one of these smooth riding tracks without numerous berms. For the uninitiated, berms are one of the main reasons riders of all disciplines love to ride. According to about.com, the definition of a berm is “an artificially banked turn made of dirt that allows a mountain biker to ride at an increased speed and at a more extreme angle.” Sounds like fun, unless you hit your break subconsciously every time you round the corner afraid you’ll go flying off the track. Here are a few tips to keep your momentum around the bend.
First off, if you need to dump any speed, do it before you take the corner. Head into the berm in a relaxed position and let your hands off the breaks keeping your eyes on your exit point where the berm ends. Lift your head up a little to focus on that point. The most difficult part of this step is preventing yourself from using the breaks. Heading into the berm slow is the best way to start and then increase your speed, as you feel more confident.
You have two choices for foot position. Choose the one that feels the best for you. If your are just starting and the berm is wide and open keep your pedals flat with your feet parallel to each other. If you are coming through the berm with more speed and a high angle keep your outside pedal low and point your inside knee away from the berm for balance. Make sure to keep your weight over the outside pedal to let your tire really dig in.
Keep your body centered riding through the berm. The faster you go through the berm, the higher up you need to ride. Rotating your hips towards the exit can also help you keep a clean line. As you reach the exit try to pump your bike for more speed and start pedaling.
Remember that berms are used to gain speed, not to slow you down. Now head on over to your local pump track and start practicing.