Are you familiar with pump tracks? Until a reader wrote in last week to tell us about a local petition to get one added to an East Asheville park, I hadn’t heard of them. A dirt, concrete, or asphalt looped track with mounds that maximizes your momentum and allows you to ride continuously without pedaling, pump tracks were originally designed in the ’70s and ’80s for mountain bikers + folks in the BMX (Bicycle Motocross) scene, they’ve grown in popularity since the first new era pump was built in Colorado in the early aughts by pro downhiller Steve Wentz. Within a few years, pump tracks began spreading throughout the country for both amateur + professional riders. In fact, riding on pump tracks has been recognized as an official sport by the UCI International Cycling Association, the world governing body of cycling.
Their growing renown is due to several factors, including that they are relatively cheap to construct and low maintenance. Of course, the cost and work necessary to properly maintain a pump track depends largely on whether or not it’s dirt or other material like asphalt. Pump tracks also offer opportunities for healthy + active outdoor fun for both groups and individuals, and can be used-year round by all levels and ages. Plus, they’re easy to use, relatively quiet, and don’t emit a lot of pollution. Some folks have found them to be especially convenient + useful during the pandemic.
Asheville is a very bikeable city, and although opportunities for riding abound (e.g., street and single- or doubletrack trails riding, the velodrome, parks + more), there are only a handful of pump tracks in the area. KOLO Bike Park (85 Expo Dr.) boasts two pump tracks that can be used by both beginner + advanced riders (see pricing info here). There’s also a small one at Bent Creek Park as well that folks can use for free (donations are welcome). Regionally, there’s also a Velosolutions pump track at George Poston Park in Gastonia, NC (about an hour and a half east) and Piney Mountain Bike Lounge in Greenville, SC (a little over an hour south of town).