Pump Tracks 101: Q&A With A Pump Track Builder

With the Pump Track World Champs coming to Durban later this month, we caught up with Andrew Neethling about the event and the business of making pump tracks.

Myles Kelsey |

A pump track is designed for all things on wheels. From mountain bikes to BMX’s and skateboards; a pump track is a playground for all wheels. By combining rolling jumps with plenty of turns, they are accessible for all. Pump tracks teach the rider the basic skills of carrying momentum, balance and speed by using your arms and legs to pump your bike/board/scooter around the track. As you get better, the tracks are designed to provide more challenges for you with no changes to the construction. For example, a 5-year-old can roll through the same track that can be used as a gap jump for a professional.

Tell us about your company Velosolutions.

Velosolutions is a pump track and trail building company from Switzerland. They are the leaders in Tarmac pump tracks worldwide, and we (Andrew and Jan) are the partners for South Africa.

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How long does it take to build, how many do we have in SA, and where are your next build projects lined up for?

It all depends on size. That is the beauty of these tracks. We can build it to whatever size you wish or have budget for. A track of say 1,000 metres can take three weeks to build, but a smaller one can take just a week.

We have helped build two tracks in South Africa already and one in Lesotho.

The tracks in Pretoria are at the Eduplex School, and in Durban, at Kwadabeka. We have around three more planned up in Durban currently. We also have a great opportunity building these pump tracks in some rural areas for the GO Durban Cycle Academy, which is a non-profit organisation focusing on education, cycling and uplifting of the community.

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Why do you use tar? Isn’t it expensive?

There are a few reasons. Tarmac is basically zero maintenance once you have built the track. Dirt really requires a ton of work to maintain and can’t be ridden properly when it rains. Tarmac also allows the user to not only be limited to a bicycle. You can use skateboards, rollerblades and razor scooters for example. It rolls faster than dirt, so a beginner can benefit greatly from this. Tarmac does add to the cost but in the long run we really feel it is worth the money.

What are the benefits to the land owner, and who usually ends up paying for the build of the track?

Having it built out of tarmac, the landowner has no issue with maintenance in the long run. The landowner can use it in all weather conditions. We feel he can offer these pump tracks to a wider range of audience of any skill level. Not only bicycles can use the tracks. We also feel it looks nicer on the eye.

What are the benefits of a pump track both for the community and for skills development?

What we are seeing with GO Durban Cycle Academy is just so impressive. The community has something to offer its kids and keep them active and away from the streets. Once the tracks are built, there is no worry of them deteriorating and it not being usable.

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Kids and adults of all different ages can use the track. It is paramount to skills development. It can often be intimidating getting straight on a mountain bike and going off road for a ride. Now you can begin slowly and safely and build proper bike handling skills on these tracks. No matter the skill level you can improve as a rider.

What is the pump track worlds series and when/where is the SA round?

The Red Bull Pump Track World Championship is taking pump track racing to a level never before seen, and rolls out a global series of qualifying events ahead of the grand final on the 7th September 2018 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland to coincide with the UCI MTB World Championships. The SA round will be held at the newly-built Kwadabeka in Durban, and will be held on 28th April 2018. Riders stand a chance to qualify and get flown to the grand final. A chance to win and be named the Pump Track World Champion. It will be a big event and we hope families come out and support and ride!

Can you be too old to ride a pump track?

No ways! That is the beauty of a pump track. You can use any bike and have fun no matter the age or skill. A hardtail and even a jump bike is more suited but any age, any gender and any skill level can have fun on these things. Pump tracks are actually incredible tools to build ones mountain bike skill set too.

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Tell us about your travels and plans for the rest of 2018.

I will be commentating for the rest of the Crankworx World Tour which takes me to France, Austria and Canada later in the year. I should also be in USA on a Scott project in August and there are talks of Peru as well. So a busy time ahead!

READ MORE ON: People pump track Red Bull Pump Track World Championship

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