One thing about the trail builders at Whistler; when they take on a project, it gets taken to the next level. Case in point: the pump track constructed for the Ultimate pump track challenge.
The symmetrical design and the addition of the center platform removes the need for timers, and creates a head to head race format that wasn’t just spectator friendly, but TV friendly as well. While it isn’t necessarily the be-all end-all of pump track design, it has created a new race format that combines dirt jump and dual slalom skills, and crams it into a relatively small amount of real estate.
That really is the beauty of the pump track. The user experience is whatever the designer/ builder makes of it. Essentially just a bunch of dirt rollers and berms, it can emulate a mini-race course, the ultimate trail riding experience, or offer a dirt skatepark-like riding session. The reason I’m so stoked on them is that unlike full on dirt jumps, it is possible to create a basic pump track with a relatively small amount of time and labor. (Assuming raw materials are handy, and the indigenous soil compacts well.) Brakes and a drive train are non-essential to the pump track experience, as a correctly built pump track requires neither brakes or a chain. (although brakes are never a bad idea for those “oh shit” moments.) This also makes them accessible to kids with .. how you say? Crappy bikes.
The pump track experience is rapidly influencing both bike park design as well as contemporary trail design, as more and more pop up. Where is the pump track trend going? It is tough to say, but at this point, it is safe to say that you’ll be seeing a lot more of them, as they are the freeriding version of the gateway drug. Because they are best ridden on hard tail dirt jump bikes, and the fun, unintimidating atmosphere, they are likely to be the first foray into the world of dirt jumps and bike skills for many.
This isn’t the Whistler bike park’s first pump track either. Next to the skatepark, nestled between the dirt jumps and the concrete park lies a pump track line that has been considerably expanded on in the last year. The downside to this location is the sandy soil. I only rode this track for a minute, and it seriously needed some water and some love.
To read more on my coverage of the Ultimage Pump Track challenge on MBA, including the results of the Challenge, click here.