What’s a Pump Track? – Two-Wheeled Thrills!

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Looking for a great way to get the family outdoors and get some two-wheeled exercise? Then a day at the pump track might be just what the doctor ordered. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced bike rider, a few runs around a pump track will leave you exhilarated and smiling.

If you’re wondering what a pump track is, you’re not alone. For those who aren’t already BMX or mountain bike enthusiasts, the concept is likely a new one. A pump track is a continuous loop of sculpted dirt track consisting of banked turns (berms) and humps (rollers). Riders use g-forces and body strength to “pump” their bikes around and over the berms and rollers to maintain speed without pedaling. 

But don’t be intimidated if you’re only a casual bike rider. Pump tracks are surprisingly accessible to riders of all levels because their difficulty is controlled by speed. Beginners can choose to go slower and more advanced riders can work toward increasing their speed and honing their skills. The only equipment needed is a BMX or mountain bike and a helmet.

As part of their mission to promote mountain biking in Siskiyou County, the Jefferson Mountain Bike Association (JMBA) recently opened a free public pump track and a beginner trail in upper Greenhorn Park in Yreka. The park already boasts an impressive network of mountain biking trails, and these new additions to the facilities mean riders of all ages and abilities can have hours of fun any day of the week.

“Having a pump track and beginner trail in Greenhorn Park is very exciting, and they help make the park an even better place for locals and visitors,” says JMBA President Brenda Nystrom. “We wanted to create additions to the park that cater to a wide range of riding abilities, so that beginners and intermediate riders not only get a great introduction to mountain biking, but also feel confident in their ability to ride the extensive trail network in the rest of Greenhorn Park.” 

Eight-year-old Tristan Tannaci of Yreka has competed in BMX and motocross races all over Southern Oregon and Northern California. Tristan has ridden the pump track several times since its recent opening and says, “It’s really fun. I ride BMX a lot and this track is way cool.”  

For several years pump tracks have been gaining popularity, popping up in public parks and backyards all over. Santa Cruz County currently has at least five public pump tracks. However, Greenhorn Park currently hosts the only public track between Eugene, OR, and Sacramento, CA.

Like much of the Greenhorn park trail system, the pump track was designed and built through collaboration with professional mountain bikers and trail designers from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), along with help from several Yreka-area community groups and volunteers. The project was funded by a grant from The McConnell Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. 

If you like the feeling of pumping berms and rollers and you’re ready to graduate from the pump track to a bigger and faster experience, you may want to try a flow trail. These larger, more linear downhill trails also use berms and rollers much like a pump track, but gravity provides momentum as you flow downhill. 

Flow trails are also becoming more common as they grow in popularity. In addition to projects in Yreka, IMBA’s professional trail crew designed the recently completed flow trail in Mount Shasta’s Shastice Park. The trail is open to the public and plans are in the works for additional riding options including a pump track, dirt jumps, skills area, and a trials zone.

With the combined benefits of fun outdoor exercise and quality time spent together, it’s hard to imagine a better family activity than bicycling. And as the list of high-quality bike trails and tracks in the North State region continues to grow, you may find it harder and harder to resist the many two-wheeled adventures waiting for you. So when your family gets restless, pack up your bikes, round up the family, pack a lunch and hit the trails.

Upper Greenhorn Park is located at 475 Greenhorn Rd. in Yreka. For more information call (530) 841-2386.  

John Bowman
About John Bowman

John Bowman is a writer, musician and father living in Siskiyou County where he takes inspiration from the mountains, rivers and communities of the North State region.

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