CORBA’s trail crew took on an unusual assignment on this past Saturday, January 22nd. Trail Crew leaders Hans Kiefer and Steve Messer took CORBA’s trail crew trailer out to Riverside to support the So Cal High School Mountain Bike League’s construction of their first pump track.
A pump track is a man-made track comprised of rollers, bermed turns, table tops and other possible features. It is designed to be ridden not by pedaling, but by using the terrain, full body movement and simple physics to propel the rider forward around the track. It teaches one how to flow with the terrain and be more in tune with the bike and trail. It’s an incredibly taxing whole-body workout, but the most important aspect is that it is just pure fun!
The pump track will be used for training, skill building and skills clinics, and the occasional special event by the SoCal High School League. It was constructed with the generous donation of space by Woodcrest Cycling team Coach Peery and his family. The space was created by removing about a dozen orange trees from the Peery family orchard. Renowned pump track guru Lee McCormack (http://www.leelikesbikes.com) designed a custom track for the terrain available. McCormack is the author of “Welcome to the Pump Track Nation” and was on-hand to oversee the construction.
Saturday’s Pump Track Raising day started out with most of the heavy lifting having already been done. With equipment donated by M&S Equpiment, Dave Peery, Dave Lansing, So Cal League director Matt Gunnell and Mountain Bike Action editor Sean McCoy had moved in several tons of dirt after flagging out the track to McCormack’s design on Friday.
On Saturday, Kiefer and Messer worked alongside McCormack and approximately 50 volunteers to shape the dirt into Lee’s vision. With everyone’s goal being to ride the track, the work progressed quickly. With so many eager volunteers, the track came together in about three hours. CORBA’s tools were invaluable in keeping all the volunteers occupied.
The new track was watered down while lunch was served. Lee McCormack took the first lap before opening up the track for all. The final part of any new pump track construction is riding it to help pack down the dirt. This was the fun part! Over the next four hours everyone took turns learning some new skills, figuring out the track and just having fun. It was most gratifying to see new riders take to the track and go from being somewhat uncoordinated to smoothly flowing with the rollers and berms.
Sunday was the first official pump track clinic and session for the track, and High School teams from across Southern California were invited. McCormack and Messer did some fine tuning on parts of the track early in the morning, helping fine-tune the track for the day’s clinics and sessions. Teams came in from Orange County, San Gabriel Valley, San Bernadino County, Riverside County and beyond to take part.
Retired BMX pro Chris Powell demonstrated the speed and fluidity possible on a pump track, flying and floating around the track, manualing the rollers and doubling from berm to berm. It was a pleasure to watch.
McCormack and Powell broke up the day with several demonstrations, clinics and a lot of helpful one-on-one and group coaching. It was clear the skill level among the high school riders (and some of their coaches!) improved drastically over the course of the event.
A great barbecue lunch was provided, as the track received another watering down and some more fine tuning. After lunch, Matt Gunnell announced a race. As far as we know it was a first for high school mountain biking in the world, and was informally dubbed the “High School Pump Track World Championship.” About 25 riders completed two timed laps each, time trial style. The fastest two from each category (Boys, Girls, and pre-high school) then faced off in a pursuit. Riders started half-way around the track from each other, with the goal being to catch up to the other person. It made for a great spectator event, and was truly fun for all.
Parents, coaches, and student athletes alike were all well worn out and happy by the end of the weekend. The pump track will prove to be an invaluable resource for the High School league, helping develop fitness and bike handling skills for the student athletes. It sets a new precedent for high school mountain bike leagues across the country.
While this track is on private property, it serves to demonstrate how a very small piece of land and a few truckloads of dirt can bring a community together in a fun, safe, cooperative and ultimately beneficial way. Kids flock to facilities that have pump tracks and just need a legal place to build and ride them.
CORBA thanks the SoCal High School League for the opportunity to support the project, as well as others who made it possible: Coach Dave Peery of the Woodcrest Cycling team, Mountain Bike Action, Turner Bikes, Clif Bar, M&S Equipment, El Monte RV, and all the students and volunteers that made it happen.