Pumptrack – Rider Reports!

Cycle Chilterns organised some training sessions for children at the Aston Hill Pumptrack. Here are reports from two boys who attended the session on 18th February.

Thomas (14)

Thomas on the opening straight

Thomas on the opening straight

We began the day in a leaf littered car park doing a bike check, which was important as the track was bumpy and any bike failure would be serious. Bike skills were next on the list, with learning how to properly turn and also ride over obstacles. Both of these refreshed my bike skills and I personally felt more comfortable after it. Ian and Al were great teachers, encouraging you and explaining it if you needed more help. We also played a fun game of balancing, and this made everyone more friendly and you felt safe riding with them.

Instead of rushing to the pumptrack, where chaos would most definitely ensue, we went to the bomb holes. The varying gradient of each hole meant everyone got confident and Ian taught us how to do pumping quickly and easily. I enjoyed watching Al speed around and it showed you lots you could learn from. Everyone got covered in mud but we still had a good time and were eager to move on to the pump track.

The pumptrack was magnificent! We rolled up the hill and saw before us row after row of perfectly shaped jumps and dips. We were all eager to have a go and even the rain couldn’t stop us. My first go was exhilarating and I felt like I was going at the speed of light. But after two goes I was exhausted and I watched everyone else have a go before I did it again. It was harder than it looked, although Al again showed us how a pro does it with a selection of manuals, transfers and jumps which were amazing.

The track was well maintained (Ian had spent quite some time before we arrived sweeping away puddles and prepping the track) and this stopped us crashing or slowing down. The most difficult part was the longer loop, which had an almost impossible berm section. I tried it but have yet to conquer it – I flew off the track more than once. I was desperately trying to manual after Al showed us but could never quite get the hang of it.

I then moved on to try and clear the first gap. A helpful push, that I later came to regret, ended in a bit of blood, althought I did do the jump. The blood eventually ran down my leg, from knee to sock – Ian said that meant it was a good spill. What’s maybe more important is that I got back on my bike. I did three or so more laps after the crash before I called it a day. It was good to finish with some solid laps. Some flow and rhythm.

The pumptrack is really good. I am looking forward to going back to practice my skills and have more fun. It was a good workout and great for my bike handling. As Ian said, things come at you so fast on the pumptrack that when you then get back on the trails you’ve so much more time. Or so it seems. We shall see. Just time for a jacket potato and beans at the Wendover Café. Well earned. Hungry for more.

I had a brilliant time and I would advise anyone reading this to organise a session there. It was super fun and I wouldn’t normally do something like this but glad I did and I can use my new skills when I ride again.

William (11)

William on the pump track

William on the pump track

Tuesday 18th of February. Cycle Chilterns hosted a pumptrack training session at Aston Hill. This was for children under the age of 16 to come and learn how to pump. We were taught by two instructors called Ian and Al. When we arrived we were greeted by about ten boys raring to go. When we were getting ready you could sense people were nervous as most of us didn’t know each other. There were two boys who were friends and me and my brother. Other than that we didn’t know each other.

As many of us hadn’t been on a pumptrack we started simple. In the car park Ian and Al split us into two groups. They then put down two logs and told us to ride around them. I thought this would be easy but I found myself having to have a massive turning circle. Ian told us that as we came up to the log to look ahead at where we wanted to go. We also had to put down our inside pedal. This made our turning circle much smaller.

As we had improved our turning Ian changed the drill. Instead of riding ’round the logs we had to ride over them. We learned that to stop the log slipping and sliding under us we had to put our wrists down. I found it so much easier to ride over things now. As we had done really well in the car park we played a game before we moved on. The balancing game. We had to ride round in a small square (that was made smaller as we went on) and we couldn’t put a foot down. It seemed easy but I’m rubbish at balancing so I went out quite early on in both games. The way to win is to stay in the corner not moving.

After the game we all cycled to the bomb holes. These were Aston Hills pumptrack before they [Cycle Chilterns] built the new one. We started off with a normal pumptrack hole. When riding the hole we had to remember three things:

1. Always look up
2. Make sure you push down when going down the dip
3. Let the bike roll up to the top

We were introduced to corners (also known as berms). Once again we were told to put the inside pedal down. But this time, rather than sharpen turns, it increased our speed. We were allowed to either ride the track normally or add in a steep dip. I chose to add the steep dip which really increased my speed. By now the feeling in the group had changed. It was more friendly and we were getting to know each other better.

Finally we cycled over to the latest pumptrack. Before we were let loose on the track Ian and Al walked us through the track making a few suggestions about how we should ride some of the corners and dips. Then Al gave us a fast (and very cool) demo of the track. On my first go I just got a feel for the track. Then after that I put all I had learned in to having clean, fun and fast runs. Just before the session finished Al gave us a quick demo of how to get some air off some of the bumps. Although I couldn’t get air that day if I keep practicing I will soon.

I found the session to be a very fun and informative day. I have learned lots of things like how to make sharp turns and how to ride berms. And best of all I’m a much better pumptrack rider. Although it rained and I got very muddy I had a smile throughout the session. It was a great day. Thank you.

Early lessons on the old bomb holes.

Early lessons on the old bomb holes.

The Pump Track

The Pump Track

First time around – they've forgotten their bikes!

First time around – they’ve forgotten their bikes!

Another (inspirational) demonstration from Al.

Another (inspirational) demonstration from Al.

Ian, Al and pupils.

Ian, Al and pupils.

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