Pump track provides critical teaching tool for camps

Battle Point Park’s recent addition of a pump track is giving new riders a crash course on the fundamentals of mountain biking.

Jared Cordell is the camp instructor for the Bainbridge Island park district’s Level 1 mountain biking camp, which caters to kids ages 7-12. Cordell said that the camp is often the first introduction for youngsters into the world of mountain biking and the pump track — which was approved by the park board back in February — plays a critical role in teaching the young riders about the fundamentals of mountain biking.

“We start at a really foundational level, teaching basic downhill, uphill skills, how to pedal, when to shift, when to brake, different obstacles and how we approach those different things,” Cordell said.

“The pump track has been a fun activity to do during the week but also a great way to teach those foundational skills.”

Pump tracks are often used by cyclists to practice the technique known in mountain biking as “pumping.” Pumping is a vertical movement of the body which pushes the rider’s weight through the bike and into the tires which helps to maintain forward momentum while traversing rollers and berms found on mountain biking trails. The act of pumping allows the rider to maintain speed and sometimes even increase his or her speed without even pedaling.

Teaching his class, Cordell stands at attention examining the form of the young riders as they bank against the berms and bow over the dips on the track.

When asked if they were happy that the pump track was built, the students in Cordell’s class all seized the opportunity to do what kids do best, letting out an emphatic “Yes!” in unison.

One participant in the camp named Colton explained that he liked the boost of speed he gets from pumping.

“I like that you can pump and go fast and it’s fun to go around, it gives you head starts and stuff,” he said.

Cordell has no doubts that the construction of the track at Battle Point Park has made his life as an instructor easier. When asked if it’s helped his instruction Cordell doesn’t even pause before answering, “For sure, yeah.”

For Cordell the track is an important teaching tool, allowing him to coach the kids on proper form, from a safe, controlled environment.

“We talk about different elements of our attack position, going downhill and some of those skills we teach are definitely directly applied to riding the pump track,” Cordell said.

After the students learn how to properly ride the trails, they move from the pump track to riding the trails in the Grand Forest.

“The level of the track, the way it’s built, is perfect for this age group because nothing is too dangerous. It’s a good way to build progression and skills,”

So popular is the track down at Battle Point Park, Cordell has to wait sometimes before sending his own campers because of heavy traffic by other visitors riding on the pump track.

In an ideal world, Cordell said he could see the track being expanded along the lines of the Poulsbo pump track, which he says is a bit larger and also incorporates a greater progression toward more difficult and varied terrain.

But, Cordell added, the track at Battle Point is still perfect for the youngsters in his group.