My not so humble 2 cents for basic bump riding
Well, what drove me to start this thread was viewing another forum where someone asked how to ride in the bumps and 1/2 the riders agreed that snowboarding in the bumps was a hopeless exercise. The only semi-useful post was a link to an ehow page
that gave me a good laugh. One thing is clear in my mind, the technique that the average intermediate rider uses to control speed (i.e. kicking their back foot out and skidding) absolutely does not work in the bumps.
I know that a lot of my own success in the bumps comes from my skiing background in being able to look at the terrain, see lines to ride, spot trouble points and plan alternative tactics to deal with trouble points. But this begs the question of what tactics to use for riding the bumps.
On skis, I talk about 3 basic types of lines for the bumps:
-in the ruts
-across the ruts
-hitting the tops
Whether you're skiing or riding, you can do speed control through turning, edge check or flat ski/board absorption. The key difference between skiing and riding in the bumps is the use of independent leg suspension when riding over a bump. Skiers flex both legs at the same time, riders do one leg at a time. One subtle difference is that skiers can compensate for the uneven snow surface by moving their feet closer together. Although riders have to adapt to having their feet on unlevel surfaces, they are better able to compensate for the potential lateral imbalance this causes because they are traveling laterally.
When you're in the ruts, you can get great speed control by turning on the outside edges of the ruts where the soft snow gets pushed. This works great until the skier made ruts get too deep and narrow for a board to ride smoothly through. For tighter bumps, you need to use more ankle movement to get higher edge angles and sharper turns. Boards generally have tighter turning radii than skis so they should be able to follow the ruts easier. The problem here is when the ruts include ski paths made by skidding edge sets. With the feet wider apart, it's hard to get a board to edge check in the same spot that skiers make.
Going across the ruts is where riders can use the flat board independent suspension thing. Here's where riders have a huge advantage over skiers because their feet are spread apart. Riders are much better able to maintain board to snow contact by stepping down hard on their front foot as they pass over the bump (skiers have to press their toes down with moves that are inherently slower and weaker than simply pushing the whole foot down). It's much easier to do this with a flat board than an edged board. A variation of this technique is to use the front and back faces of each bump to make 270 degree type turns. If you cross the rut going across the fall line, you will approach a bump from the side. Then you can start a turn while going up the face to the top of the bump, do a sharp turn at the top with very little length of edge contact and continue the turn down the back of the bump until the board is across the fall line again. If need be, riders can also edge check for speed control (i.e. kicking the board sharply out of line of the direction of travel, setting the edge momentarily and flexing both legs to absorb momentum) on the face of a bump after they have crossed a rut.
When the snow is soft or the operator is a maniac, a rider can flow down the fall line hopping from bump face to bump face and absorb each landing for speed control. The idea here is that you don't need to kill a lot of speed because you need the speed to be able to clear the ruts. If you can land the board flat on an uphill face of the bump, you can use your legs to absorb the landing and slow your down the fall line speed. But the harder the snow and the steeper the pitch, the more difficult it is to use this tactic.
There are lots of other tactics that can be used in the bumps (e.g. nose rolls and spine leapers), but these either involve subtle variations of the above approaches are a combination of them.
Regardless of which tactic you choose to use in the bumps, the one thing you need to be able to do that 99% of the intermediate back foot pushing riders do not do is BEND YOUR @#$%$# LEGS! For bumps of any decent size this means bending your legs so that the distance between your heels and your butt is 1/3 to 1/5 of the distance of when you are standing upright. If you don't bend your legs this much, you won't be able to absorb to control speed or stay in balance when you flex your ankles, your turns will be late and you will be toast. For the riders that I've worked with, this has been the biggest stumbling block for improving their bump riding.