Spokane area mountain bike enthusiasts are getting a long-desired amenity this spring.
A pump track.
“We’re excited about this project,” said David Goode, the Evergreen East Mountain Bike Alliance operations manager. “It’s been one that mountain bikers have talked about forever.”
A pump track is a circular, banked track that allows the rider to travel without pedaling using only up and down body movements – pumping – to create momentum.
The pump track is part of a larger planned expansion and renovation of the eastern most area of Beacon Hill. The area will feature a skills park designed to give beginning bikers a place to learn the basics before venturing onto rougher terrain. Riders can practice dropping off ledges, riding over rocks and navigating sharp corners, among other things.
“That’s been a big complaint about Beacon for years,” said Penny Schwyn, the club’s director of education. “For a lot of beginning riders Beacon has been challenging.”
She added, “For a beginning rider it can be really intimidating.”
“The trails (in the skills park) are designed to prepare someone for the rest of Beacon Hill,” Goode said.
The pump track will be located in the eastern most part of the Beacon Hill area, said Alan Shepherd, the club treasurer.
The project will cost between $40,000 and $50,000. Work is scheduled to start on the skills park on April 4. Goode hopes that everything is completed within 10 weeks of the start of construction. The track will be built by trail builders who work for the west side Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.
In an effort to raise money for the project Evergreen East is hosting a fundraiser on April 15 (see sidebar).
Although area riders have long desired a pump track, Goode said the cost and maintenance requirements slowed it becoming a reality. He believes that during the summer the track will require roughly 15 hours of maintenance work per week. In the summer heat the dirt quickly turns to dust. Keeping the right consistency of dirt, while also maintaining the course’s integrity, requires regular watering and shaping.
In addition to the cost and maintenance hurdles, creating a pump track required Evergreen East to get permission from the city. The pump track will be built on city parkland in Camp Sekani park.
Once complete, the track will have 4,500 square feet of packed and groomed trail surface. The oval shaped course will have a total area of 10,000 square feet.
Additionally, the pump track will serve as an anchoring point for the entire mountain biking area.
“When this pump track goes in it will give us a centralized location,” Goode said.
Near the pump track is a rock formation with good views of the area. Goode and the others envision parents watching their kids from there.
And while the skills course will specifically cater to beginning riders, Goode said the pump track will be enjoyable for everyone.
“A good pump track you can be there for hours,” he said.
Evergreen East was formed seven years ago. Since then the mostly volunteer organization has worked to develop and maintain existing mountain bike trails in the Beacon Hill area.
Beacon Hill has become a destination for many Pacific Northwest shredders. Because of Spokane’s climate it is rideable before trails in rain-soaked Seattle, and it is snow free before trails in Canada and Montana. With the addition of a pump track, Goode anticipates even more out-of-town traffic.
“We’re starting to see groups of people who actually travel to ride pump tracks,” he said.
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