Why Pave a Pumptrack?

Board Member

March 13, 2021, 08:46 AM

Several of the larger projects moving forward in the area include paved pumptracks, and some folks have reasonably wondered why go to the trouble and expense when mountain biking is all about riding on dirt.  To be honest, when the idea was first suggested, I dismissed it out of hand.  But as I learned more and thought about it, I realized that it is not only worth it, but the only reasonable way to go.  Here's why:

  • Maintenance:  This is the biggest reason.  Most of the sites where pumptracks are being considered are open areas, fully exposed to rain and weather.  When you build a dirt pumptrack, it may be perfect the day you finish building, but every rainstorm is one step closer to returning to flat ground.  The process is slow and barely perceptible; it just becomes less and less fun to ride, until it is more or less abandoned.  We've seen this happen here at the original Middleton track, and at other places around the region.  Without a very committed and knowledgable crew to keep the track in top form, this is almost inevitable, and as an all-volunteer operation, we don't have those resources.  Even when the track is protected by tree cover, as ours it at Quarry Park, it takes the work of several volunteers to keep it in good form.
  • Access:  These projects are intended to be accessible and attractive to a wide audience, who may not understand or appreciate the damage that riding a wet trail will do.  There would be signage and education campaigns, but it really isn't reasonable to think that no one will ride them when they are wet.  So why not make them rideable when wet?
  • Access, again:  And wouldn't it be nice to have an option for riding when the rest of our trails are too wet?  March is a long month...
  • Permeability:  Pavement isn't great for the environment, and many of us reasonably resist using it for valid reasons.  But a pumptrack isn't a parking lot.  In a 7000 square foot pumptrack, only about half the  area is actually paved, and it is designed so that rainwater collects in the unpaved sections and percolates into the ground.  And even with dirt trails, once the tread is compacted enough to be a quality riding experience, it isn't really permeable.  The folks who design and build these facilities care about the environment and the outdoors, and do a good job of minimizing their impact.
  • Fun:  It takes a great deal of work to bring these facilities to fruition; convincing land managers, public meetings, raising funds, finding contractors.  The payoff will be seeing riders young and old, new and experienced, outdoors, getting exercise, building bike-handling skills, building community, and, of course, riding them.  If we're going to go to the effort, why not make them open as often as possible, and as long-lasting as possible?

I was pretty thoroughly convinced by these arguments, but visiting a couple facilities removed any lingering doubt.  They ride unbelievable well, and the vibe of folks hanging out, encouraging each other, pushing themselves, and generally having a good time is amazing.  CORP's primary focus will always be quality natural surface trails, but there is a place for durable surfaces, and we're excited to see these projects coming to fruition!


Renegade Rick

March 13, 2021, 04:55 PM

I love the racing stripes!


Trail Steward - Quarry Ridge

March 13, 2021, 05:39 PM




March 15, 2021, 09:35 AM

These projects are so good.  I see them being a catalyst for more riders and MTB trail development.  Can't wait.