Pump tracks are growing in popularity for mountain bikers in Brisbane and across Australia. You've seen them on Youtube and at Crankworx events but, is going around in circles all that fun? It looks repetitive and simple doesn't it? In Short, its endless amounts of fun and and getting it right is a lot harder than it looks in both skill and physical effort.
What is a Pump Track?
A pump track is a circuit that riders can complete without pedalling for speed, instead generating speed by turning, 'pumping' and jumping rollers around the track.
The Skills Behind It
Anyone can pedal a bike including toddlers on training wheels but, not everyone can ride a pump track without pedalling. There is a lot that goes into getting your body position and timing right in order to pump and accelerate through the rollers and berms around a pump track. Talented riders find a way to make it all look effortless as they build up speed rapidly and commonly jump from roller to roller on their way around. When starting out it can be frustrating and feel like you'll never get the flow required to stop putting in pedal strokes. However, once things start to click and you find a rhythm you'll see yourself progressing on the pump track rapidly as your skills and timing improve. With this rhythm comes the fun as you link sections up, rail berms and start jumping features. These skills will become very handy when you're back on the dirt trail riding. Finding natural rollers and accelerating through berms will be easier and faster than ever.
Pump Track Fitness
Well, we're not pedalling and all the good riders make it look pretty easy so it must be easy? Nope. Pump tracks are a serious workout, I burn as many calories at the pump track doing laps as I do slogging it out on the Enduro bike but, its a very different kind of fitness. When pedalling your local MTB trails you can sit at a somewhat comfortable rate and turn the pedals over. At the pump track its an interval style work out. A short, sharp burst as you try and explode up and down the rollers before being forced to take a break to get your breath back.
Pump Track Etiquette
Just as there is an etiquette on the MTB trails there is an etiquette at the pump track. If riders are already in motion riding a lap don't pull in to start your lap in front of them only to rob them of their hard earned speed, let them pass and then begin your lap. If you catch a rider only pass if the track is wide enough to do so safely and you won't be forcing them in to an unexpected / unwanted line change. Although a good pump track should be able to be ridden in both directions there is normally a favoured direction, if unsure hang back and see what way everyone else is going. Don't disrupt the flow and go the opposite direction suddenly as you will likely cause a head on collision. That covers most of it, if in doubt about anything hang back and watch what others are doing or just ask someone a question, riders are ready to help each other especially when it will also help them get a clean, safe lap in.
Pump Track Bikes
As you're driving hard through your arms and legs across rollers you want the best power transfer possible to generate speed. Unfortunately your big dual suspension bike is a bit of an enemy here as the suspension and low tyre pressures will rob you of energy and make hard work even harder. By all means, go and check out your closest pump track on whatever bike you have but if you're planning to make this a regular occurrence the investment in a 26" hardtail MTB dirt jumper will make your pump track experience easier and significantly more enjoyable. With a far less complicated design and parts these are surprisingly affordable compared to dual suspension trail bikes.
Norco have a new aluminium 26" hardtail and its a beauty, the Norco Rampage. Available in three models from $999 - $2499 there is a Rampage for the a learner and the pump track veteran alike. All models feature the same high quality frame but have varied level of components to suit their relevant price point. Although expensive the simplified nature of a pump track bike means at $999 you're getting a highly competent entry level bike and a top of the line bike for $2,499, imagine if top of the line Enduro bikes cost this much! If you're interested in a dirt jump / pump track bike contact us today to discuss your options.
Pump tracks as a great investment by councils, making for a healthier and happier community. As pump tracks only increase in difficulty the faster you go its common to see young children enjoying these pump tracks even more frequently than the adults. We're excited to see the growth of pump tracks in Brisbane and hope the council continues to implement more of these heavily used facilities.
Photos by Annelie Marquardt