Paul Andrews

Why Aptos Needs a Pump Track

In Bicycle advocacy, Mountain Biking on January 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Right now it’s a seedy vacant lot. But if the mountain biking community in Aptos CA and its Santa Cruz environs have any say, the open field behind the Post Office jump park will soon be transformed into a major drawing card for NorCal riders.

Led by Epicenter Cycling, a new bike shop in Aptos, an effort is under way to install a pump track in the unused dirt lot adjacent to the bike shop. Right now commercial zoning stands in the way, but advocates are working with regulators to enable accommodation of the track.

This is a great opportunity for Aptos/Santa Cruz to build on its growing reputation, stoked by icons like Cam and Tyler McCaul, Jamie Goldman and Greg Watts, the reigning Krankworx Slopestyle champion who flies more air than United.

The Aptos clan has not only brought fans, groupies and fellow starz to the tiny seaside community, their Jump Jam contests and cameos on DVDs have put Aptos on the international mountain biking map. It used to be when a McCaul was introduced, people would say, “Aptos? Where’s that?” Now they nod and say, “Yeah dude, that’s where the jump park rools!”

Alas, the jump park is slated to be shut down, and there isn’t a clear alternative nearby. Freeride trails are springing up in the woods, but replacing the jump park isn’t going to be easy. Aptos definitely will need a new holy grail.

A pump track would be a big step in the right direction. Downieville and Marin County celeb Mark Weir has garnered lots of attention for a track he put in on private property in Novato, where the mtb v. hiker wars continue apace.

Pump tracks are like mini LeMans courses for bikes. You ride berms and humps around a large, wide loop, gaining speed (without having to pedal) for jumps and launches. It’s a great way to build riding skills as well as get a nice workout, which shuttling up a fire road or riding a chair lift won’t provide.

Two other benefits to tracks, which parallel skateboard bowls: They’re great gathering places, and they provide a positive recreational outlet for kids at a much-needed time of their lives.

With the regulatory process just under way, there’s no ETA yet for the pump track. But backers hope to have it in place in time for the 2010 season.

“Lots of folks are anxious to get in and start building,” said Shawn Wilson, owner of Epicenter Cycling. “Human power won’t be a problem.”

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