Cyclists in Calgary won’t have to travel down south to take advantage of the city’s pump tracks soon.
Parks Foundation Calgary made the announcement that a new, $750,000 asphalt pump track would be coming to West Confederation Park in the fall. It’s the first of its kind north of the Bow River.
Construction is already well underway on the 19 Street and Canmore Road NW location.
“We’d love to see it open in the fall so that kids and families have a chance to enjoy it before winter,” said Sheila Taylor, Parks Foundation Calgary CEO.
The pump track will have two courses, separating out a shorter beginner’s loop from a longer skilled rider’s loop.
The beginner’s track will be about 60 metres long – double the length of the Inglewood beginner’s track. The skilled riders track will be about 100 metres long.
“This project really grows off the design popularity of the Inglewood bicycle pump track, which we built last year, when we heard that people really loved having two fully separate tracks,” said Taylor.
“We heard that younger kids and families were really wanting to have a place that felt like it was just for them, and there will be quite a distinction,” she said.
New audiences using pump tracks
Taylor said that the pump tracks have been incredibly popular with Calgarians, drawing new audiences – like teens – to parks.
“We’ve also have seen people stay for quite a while. These kids will probably come and stay for an hour or two,” she said.
“It’s provided a new place to spend time with friends, and in a completely different activity. It does draw a really different audience than we see at playgrounds and also what we see at skate parks.”
Danika White, a professional motocross racer and marketing coordinator for Fox, said that mix of audiences has really grown over the past several years.
“People are getting outside more, they’re riding bikes, or trying to do things as family like meeting up in their neighborhood and not really traveling far,” she said.
“We’ve seen an influx of bike sales, people needing gear, and getting geared up either for the entry level or they may be taking it a little bit more seriously and need to get fully padded up to hit the trails.”
Competition side of pump tracks is growing
Niels Densink, one of Canada’s top pump track racers and pump track designers, was on hand at the announcement of the new track, made at the exisiting South Glenmore Pump Track, to show off his skills and talk asphalt.
Densink recently qualified for the Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championship to be held in Santiago, Chile, after finishing first in a qualifier held in Langford, BC.
“People actually know what pump track is now, and there’s some value to the competition as well. You can win a rainbow jersey,” he said.
“Within the cycling federation, it’s grown and there’s a lot more support now.”
Rainbow jerseys are given to the world champion in a particular cycling discipline by the Union Cycliste Internationale.
Within Calgary, the South Glenmore Pump Track is competition grade.
A sport for all ages and abilities
For Densink, the keys to a good pump track are safety, flow, and fun.
“You want the smaller kids that are just beginning to have an easy track so they can learn, but you also want to have a track for the more experienced riders to come back and ride every time, because they keep exploring and they keep trying new stuff,” he said.
“So you have to find a good mix between that.”
Densink said that the design of the track also has to be inclusive of other disciplines like skateboards, scooters, rollerblades, and even wheelchairs.
“So you’ve got to always think about is it doable on the skateboard? Is it doable on the scooter?” he said.
“At the same time, I’m always looking at safety: Is it not too peaky? Not too flat? Are the corners good enough that you keep going straight at the at the exits? There’s a lot of things we have to think about.”
Culturally, said Densink, pump tracks are different than other recreational facilities like skate parks. He said they tend to attract a wide range of ages with different rider skills, using the tracks at the same time.
“What I like personally is when you walk into the gate everybody connects, we talk, we cheer for each other, you give each other tips, and the small kids come up to you to ask you questions, which I think is really important to grow this discipline,” he said.
“It’s really accessible, and I think everybody’s equal. I ride with small kids, and I keep an eye on them, and they keep an eye on me. I think that’s great.”