Get your heart pumping
As Linmere grows over the coming years, we’ll see some fantastic facilities created in our outdoor spaces. Facilities that help us get together, increase our opportunity to exercise and take more time outside to improve our health and well-being. Whilst some of these facilities are still in planning, some are alive and kicking. And that title couldn’t be more fitting for the Linmere pump track, in Linmere park.
Pump track riding has riding has grown rapidly over the past 10 years, which means most of us are new to it. Therefore, we’ve put together a quick guide, alongside an introductory video, to cover the basics of pump track riding and how to get started.
What is a pump track?
It’s a hard-surface course that resembles a BMX track, made of asphalt. On the straights, you’ll find rolling bumps, known as rollers. These are linked with tight banked curves, known as berms. You’ll see clear, painted lines around the track to help you keep find the safest lines, especially on the berms, as well as directional arrows, to ensure all riders are traveling in the same direction when the track is busy.
What can I use on a pump track?
Anything with wheels. Literally. From toddlers on balance bikes, scooters, skateboarders to BMX and Mountain bikes. You can be 3 or 73. If you’re confident on what you’re riding, you can enjoy it on a pump track. That’s the magic of pump tracks, you can use them in so many ways, with varying levels of ability.
Most pump track riders will be bike riders, using one of 2 bike types; BMX bikes on 20-inch wheels or Mountain Bikes on 26-inch wheels. Whilst younger riders tend to use BMX bikes and older riders prefer Mountain Bikes, it’s entirely up to you. There are many older riders using specialised BMX bikes with extended frames, so the options are wide open.
Why have they become so popular?
Pump tracks have been around for decades. They were originally carved from dirt for BMXers to hone their skills and make tracks more accessible to riders of all abilities. The new designs we see today, using asphalt, grew out of Colorado USA a few years back, to enable riding in all weathers.
Around the same time, Britain was heavily investing in skate parks. Whilst fun, they require a certain level of skill, and come with a higher chance of injury. Pump tracks provide a new option to appeal to a wider range of ages and ability. And with an asphalt surface, you can ride them all through the year.
What’s the pumping part?
It’s about using your arms, legs, and body to push yourself and build momentum around the track. As you ride over each set of rollers, you increase your speed and as you reach the curves, you keep hold of that speed to take you around to the next straight. As you increase the number of laps around the track, you build a rhythm to keep this momentum going. No pedalling, no feet – just rolling, pumping, and rolling. Check out some starter tips below.
What essential kit do I need?
A good helmet, above anything else. A regular dome helmet will be good for any on a skateboard or scooter. If you’re on a bike, you’re going to be traveling faster, so we recommend a full-face helmet. You can add elbow pads and knee pads if your budget allows. The more protected, the better.
How do I get started?
Slowly. If you’re not an experienced track rider, you need to give yourself time to feel the lines of the track and build your confidence. You’re not out to win anything here.
Choose a time when the track is emptier. You won’t feel pressured to keep your speed up and you can build your confidence in your own time. We always recommend you have someone with you too. Pump track riding is a sociable sport and if you do have a scrape, there’s someone to help you out.
When the track is busy, wait for your turn and drop into the track with plenty of space between you and the next rider. And keep your run limited to 2 or 3 laps, to give all the other riders plenty of chances to get their turn.
Look out for younger riders, especially toddlers on balance bikes. Older, experienced riders take a cautious approach when younger riders are on track. It’s important to encourage younger riders to catch the bug, so never intimidate them or take risks when they’re around.
The essentials of ‘pumping’
Your standard physics teacher could do worse than visiting a pump track to witness the principles of energy conservation and angular momentum in practice. There are pump track coaches who’ll readily pull out a diagram to explain how you use these theories to really increase your performance.
For now, we’re going to keep it very simple with some basic principles on using the rollers on the straight to build your speed and using the berms (curves) to keep hold of it. It’s worth watching the video to see experienced riders applying these principles in action.
On the rollers
Most of your momentum is going to be built on the straights, as you travel over the rollers, using gravity to build up your speed. And it breaks down to 2 simple rules:
As you ride over the top of the roller, make yourself lighter by bringing the bike closer to you to use less effort to fight gravity.
And as you ride down the roller, just before you hit the bottom, push the bike down to make yourself heavier, to put the momentum in your pocket for the next roller.
On the berms
This is known as riding the rails and the key here is to avoid losing the speed you’ve built up from the rollers and straights. As you enter the berm, aim for the centre of the track, and lean the bike into the angle of the berm, so that the centre of your wheels is riding the surface of the track, as if you were upright. Keep your eyes ahead so you know when and where the exit is coming and then ride out to the next set of rollers on the straight.
Then repeat, repeat and repeat again, until your confidence builds, and your instincts grow to help you develop your skills.
Well done, you’re now a pump track rider, but it’s going to take you some time before you get to be a good one. And on the way there, you’re going to discover an exciting way to get a full body workout that’s a whole lot more exciting than being down the Gym.
Take a look at the video to see the Linmere pump track in action and we look forward to seeing more of you on the track throughout 2023.
The Linmere Pump Track is a publicly accessible facility and used at your own risk. Pump Track Riding is a high-risk activity and you are responsible for your own actions. Users are advised to remain within the limit of their own abilities and take extra care around other users on the track. The use of protection is at the discretion of the user. We strongly advise a helmet is worn at all times.
Linmere is designed to be a place for communities that embraces the natural environment, and where all generations can enjoy a great quality of life. This exciting new collection of leafy and walkable neighbourhoods, situated north of Houghton Regis Bedfordshire, located close to M1 Junction 11a. Nestled into verdant surroundings, its first homes completed and inhabited in 2021. The Land Trust will maintain and preserve these spaces on behalf of Houghton Regis Management Company.