Every few years, mountain bikers need to sink their teeth into something new. This is the mindset that gave us the singlespeed craze, the switch to bikes with 29-inch wheels and the trend of mountain bikers crossing into road riding.
Now the new trend is pump tracks.
What’s a pump track?
A pump track is a loop of rollers, berms, tabletops and other features. The goal is to ride the track without pedaling, instead relying on momentum and skillful technique to preserve speed. Here’s a video of local riders showing their pump track skills.
Pump tracks generally look like shrunken BMX tracks.
Where are the pump tracks in Phoenix?
The first on government-owned land is set to open soon at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Fountain Hills. Rage Cycles (2724 N. Scottsdale Road) also has a pump track. Riders gather there on Mondays to test their skills. Most other pump tracks are in mountain bikers’ backyards. You have to know someone to get the goods and score an invitation to try your hand at pump track riding. There are also a few whispers of an imminent pump track project in Flagstaff for those hot summer days when Phoenix riders want to escape.
How do you do it?
There are a few fine points to riding the pump track. Here are a few pointers from Chris Cowan, who passed on some knowledge during a work session at the McDowell Mountain Pump Track:
First, aggressively push your bike into the bermed corners using your arms and legs. Also, push over the apex of rollers the same way and allow the bike to mover under you. In the corners, be willing to lean the bike over far. For those of us who have never raced BMX, this can feel a bit weird.
Is it hard?
Just like anything new, it involves developing skills. Even though you’re not pedaling, you’ll still work your arms and legs pretty strenuously – if you’re trying hard. The good riders make it look effortless. But it isn’t. Stick with it, though.
How fun is it?
Pretty addicting. If you try it, don’t be surprised to realize it’s 1:34 a.m. And you’re surfing the Internet for “how to build a backyard pump track.”
Whether you hit McDowell, Rage, a private track or just choose to build your own, chances are you’ll wind up with better handling skills you can apply to all your local trails.
Be sure to subscribe here for more updates on the grand opening of the McDowell Pump Track, plus news about any other pump track-riding opportunities.