From New Zealand to the United States, Chile to India, and France to Japan, riders from around the world will be racing on Velosolutions’ critically acclaimed pump tracks in hopes of being crowned the overall Red Bull Pump Track World Champion.
Ahead of the World Championship qualifying heat that was held at Akaigawa Tomo Playpark on August 5, we took some time out with Chantelle and William who work for Velosolutions to ask them a bit more about the unique, permanent pump track they built for the event.
William: Yeah sure. We build pump tracks, bike parks and bike trails around the world. We’re currently building a pump track here in Akaigawa. For those who aren’t familiar with pump tracks, they have banked turns and bumps, and the goal is to go around the track without pedalling. The rider uses the momentum of up and down body movements, or “pumping”, to gain speed and momentum. We also build bicycle parks for mountain bikes and downhill. Basically, anything you can ride with a bicycle, we build.
William: The company that hired us is called Blue Waves Group. They’ve recently expanded into real estate and their plan is to build attraction around their project sites. It’s pretty quiet in Akaigawa during summer, so they’re trying to create more offerings for visitors around here. There is a camp ground here too that offers fishing, archery and outdoor movies in summer, so now people will have another reason to visit. We heard that there’s a bullet train terminal proposed to be built around the corner, so this area is definitely going to be a lot more popular in a couple years’ time.
William: The event in August is the very first Red Bull Pump Track World Championship. It’s a big project that Velosolutions has been working on for the last couple of years with Red Bull. The goal is to provide people the opportunity to ride on pump tracks around the world and compete against each other in a series of qualifying events. Each event will see the best female and male rider offered a ticket to the finals, which are to be held in the United States. This way everyone has the same opportunity to compete and the fastest pump track rider at the end will be crowned the champion. Every country that has a Velosolutions pump track can compete in the contest.
Chantelle: Everybody can ride a track like this. That’s the biggest advantage of pump tracks. You can ride it if you’re 4 years old or even 70 years old. If you want to ride your bike, skateboard, or even scooter, you can do it! Anything with wheels will do the trick. The pump tracks are made from asphalt so it’s a very smooth surface, kind of like concrete. So even in-line skates can ride on that kind of surface.
William: I think that’s one of the most impressive things about riding pump tracks. It’s one of the only sports in the world where you can have a world class athlete riding the same course as someone really beginner, and they both will have the same amount of fun. It’s for everybody. As we’re building these tracks, we always try to imagine the young kids who will ride on them. We once saw a young brother and sister in Canada who were helping one another out by pushing each other up the track on their bikes.
Chantelle: Yeah, exactly. One person is going to jump from one bump to another, and another person might just roll through it. That’s really cool.It’s for everybody and everybody’s going to have the same fun.
William: I think everything is here for that to be possible. Pump track riding is a good starting point for anyone wanting to get into riding. Pump tracks help to teach the basics of mountain biking. It’s really a game changer when you start mountain biking, because you can pump more and pedal less. You can keep your momentum and keep up your speed. It’s also a really good way to start jumping and feeling the shapes. Here in Hokkaido, you have the ski hills and the terrain is awesome. The forests are dense, but I think in a couple of years there’s going to be a really good, growing bike scene here.
Chantelle: Except for mowing the grass around the track, there’s really nothing else you need to do.
William: Here there’s probably way too much snow in winter. But if you wanted to, you could shovel out the snow from the track and ride it in winter as well. But in summer, nearly everything drains itself out and the track dries. The asphalt doesn’t move, so you really don’t need to do any maintenance.
Chantelle: Every track we build is totally different. It’s made up of bumps and turns, but we never build the same design. None of the tracks we create are the same anywhere else in the world.