Outdoors

Mark Morical: New Oregon pump track popular among all ages and abilities

On a recent warm, sunny day after school hours, the Homestead Park Bike Pump Track is packed with young riders.

They cruise over the asphalt rollers, some of them getting airborne, and then whip around on the wood wall rides at the end of the park.

Based on the sheer number of bikers here, it is obvious that the track, which opened last fall, fills a need for Redmond-area BMX and mountain bike enthusiasts. While areas for traditional cross-country mountain biking have long been available in Redmond, those looking for more free-ride-style opportunities had been left with crumbling dirt jumps or illegally riding in the Redmond Skatepark.

"People for so many years always talked about wanting a bike park," says Trevor Elson, one of the organizers of the park. "People in the area had built dirt bike parks and we were just kind of done with the dirt. It's just too dusty and dry."

Elson, 24 and a service manager at Trinity Bikes in Redmond, and some of his friends attended a July 2017 Redmond City Council meeting to say they had no place to ride and asked for a new park.

The city of Redmond responded, and the project got rolling quickly.

"We had a big community meeting, mainly geared toward the youth to come and tell us what they wanted their bike park to look like," says Annie McVay, parks and facilities division manager for the city. "I think we had it constructed almost within a year of them coming to the council meeting."

Young Redmond riders even helped Velosolutions, a Swiss company that builds bike parks and tracks in countries around the world, with construction.

According to McVay, the project cost about $300,000, including $55,000 raised by the Redmond Parks Foundation.

Other companies donated materials for the half-acre pump track, which includes banked turns and jumps. Riders use their legs to "pump" their way over the features.

"When you get a city to back you, that gave us the vision and goal that we can really build this park to everything we want it to be," Elson says. "I got to see a lot of the build process and some local kids got to be involved too. It was cool to get the community involved that way."

The land on which the new pump track was built was formerly a dirt jump area. For the new park, dirt jumps and rollers were built up and then asphalt was laid over them. Bordering the asphalt track is artificial turf, allowing for a soft landing in case of a tumble.

The pump track is ridable for bikers of all ages and skill levels, according to Elson. And most types of bikes work well there, too, including BMX bikes, dirt jumpers and mountain bikes. Road bikes, however, do not, Elson notes.

"I've seen little girls out there who look like they're 3 years old on their little strider bikes and they sort of meander up and down (the rollers)," McVay says. "I'm surprised how big of an age range we've seen out there. I've seen really young kids out there and families, and I've also seen more advanced riders doing crazy tricks."

Elson says the BMX style of riding has a dedicated following in Redmond.

"It seemed like the best choice because a lot of people in Redmond have that old-school BMX background," he says. "Everybody around here who now has kids, a lot of them grew up racing BMX. So the pump track idea fit really well."

Mountain bikes "fit and flow really well" on the new track, according to Elson. Indeed, when I rode my full-suspension mountain bike along the rollers and the bermed corners, it seemed to cruise with ease around the park.

But the main clientele consists of kids on BMX bikes – likely many of the same kids who used to sneak their bikes into the Redmond Skatepark.

"The police will send officers down there and give warnings and notices," Elson recalls. "But at the end of the day, the skatepark is for skateboarders, and now we have a bike park that's for bikes."

Elson says that kids ages 10 and younger have been filling the new park nearly every day, making it somewhat difficult for an older, more advanced rider to perform some of the more extreme, aerial maneuvers.

"It's actually been a struggle for us older riders who want to go out there and do some crazy things at that park," Elson says. "We just can't do it right after work because it's so full of people. It's come down to getting a group of guys together and going Sunday at 7 o'clock in the morning."

But he is not complaining, as he gets joy from watching others get their thrills at the Homestead Park Bike Pump Track.

"From the starting area, you can see the whole park and see everybody having fun," Elson says. "That's the best part about it, just seeing how many other people enjoy it."

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