Extraordinary Jump for Pump Tracks

Yarra Ranges, Victoria

The once humble pump track is undergoing a major evolution, as developments such as the Warburton MTB destination get more strategic in how they can incorporate pump track facilities.

New pump track developments are getting a lot more sophisticated in how they accommodate different users, foster skills development and become a more inviting open space, according to Warburton MTB executive project manager Matt Harrington.

That includes being more welcoming to groups under-represented in cycling, such as female riders, he said.

Yarra Ranges Council recently launched its Coldstream pump track and is planning two more facilites, at Wesbourne and Mt Everland, to complement the recently-approved Warburton MTB Destination project and the shire’s rail trail network.

Detailed design work is underway for the $940,000 Wesbourne project, scheduled for completion in September or October, and the council has received $2.4 million in funding for an urban bike park at Morrison Reserve in Mt Everlyn.

Matt said the Coldstream facility has been very busy since it opened in December and the council has learnt a lot from its use to help finetune plans for Wesbourne, including the importance of segregated spaces for beginner riders.

“The feedback from riders on the ability to develop their skills and move to the more advanced part of the jumps has been significant.”

“At Coldstream, the beginner circuit is integrated into the intermediate loop. Having that mix of riders is probably not optimal, when you watch what happens there you get kids on balance bikes among kids flying around on BMX.

The new design for Wesbourne will have a completely separate beginner track. That will sit alongside a semi integrated intermediate loop and then an intermediate to advanced line that will include a mirrored race track.

He said progressive features will also be a key focus on each facility.

“Coldstream incorporates progressive jumps where one side is pretty tame and the further you move to the extreme end, the bigger the jump gets, the more lip and kick they get. That’s been hugely popular,” Matt added.

“It’s important to pay attention to spaces around a pump track and how they work to enhance the experience.”

“The feedback from riders on the ability to develop their skills and move to the more advanced part of the jumps has been significant.”

Better Communal Spaces

He said communal spaces were also an increased focus to encourage people to gather and spend more time at the facilities, to increase interaction.

“When you ride a pump track, you typically spend between 20 seconds and a minute and a half going around the track and you’re pretty cooked. So you spend a lot of your time at the track just dwelling,” he elaborated.

“And when you’re dwelling, you want to watch and you want to engage with other people, so it’s important to pay attention to spaces around a pump track and how they work to enhance the experience.

“That’s something I’ve become a lot more cognitive of since we developed the initial plans for Coldstream and Wesbourne.

“One of the things we really want to do is make the experience engaging for a broader range of people, particularly female riders.”

Matt says pump tracks are a great opportunity to engage more females in the sport and give them confidence to develop their technique.

“But one of the factors that is really important is the social experience. How do we create those opportunities for that social experience in a way that’s not threatening?” he asked.

“How can we give them their own space or a space where they can feel a bit more comfortable?”

He said effective event programming will be integral to achieving that objective.

Yarra Ranges Council is planning to run free skills programs at Coldstream and Wesbourne to encourage more females to participate and build social networks.

“I’ve been going out to different locations to do some research and go for a ride. As a 52-year -old man turning up on my spanking new Dirt Jumper to a pump track with 12-year-olds boosting jumps much bigger than I’m ever going to do, when there’s a whole cohort of them, is actually pretty intimidating … and I’m an experienced rider and generally not intimidated by people.

“But even for me it’s quite an intimidating thing. So think about that from the point of view of a teenage girl and how we break down that intimidation.

“What tools can we provide to keep them engaged and motivated and coming back?”

Finalised Wesbourne Designs

Matt said the finalised designs for Wesbourne will be significantly different to concepts released late last year.

“When we did geotech and soil testing, we weren’t able to deliver on the same design as the concept plans, so it’s going to look quite different to what was originally planned but still on the same sort of scale – just a different configuration,” he explained.

Matt said the Morrison Reserve facility, near the Melbourne end of the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail, will provide an urban bike park right on the doorstep of suburban Melbourne.

“It’s going to be great to have the Warburton MTB tracks, but kids aren’t going to be able to get there before and after school. To get kids on their bikes and get them healthy and active during the week, there needs to be opportunities closer to where they live,” he said.

“We’re really looking to develop a range of facilities around the shire that will be closer to community and is really about that local experience and that regularity of exercise and participation.”

Morrison Reserve, financed through the Victorian Government’s Great Suburbs Fund, is expected to go out to tender in the second half of this year.

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