Get pumped for spring with the North Shore Mountain Bike Association
Feeling pumped about the prospect of some spring bike action? The North Shore Mountain Bike Association has just the thing: the pump track. This freshly constructed wooden bike track debuted at the recent Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show at B.C. Place Stadium, where the NSMBA held its annual bike sale. Over the past five years, the swap has become the 3,400-member club’s major fundraiser, the biggest event of its kind in Canada.
Together with mountain-bike exponents Darren Butler and Kelli Sherbinin of local company Endless Biking, NSMBA president Dan Gronross described the dynamics of the track to the Georgia Straight. The tennis-court-sized oval features banked corners at each end and undulating straightaways along both sides. “It’s like a perpetual-motion machine,” Gronross said. “Once you start riding, the whole point is you don’t have to pedal. Simply push down on your handlebars on the back side of the whoops [a series of wavelike formations] to carry your speed around the track. There’s no chance of hurting yourself because you’re always riding at ground level.”
Watching a dozen cyclists at a time whirl effortlessly around the pump track proved popular with crowds at the show. Pumping was a hit with riders of all ages and abilities, including professionals such as Wade Simmons, who is widely credited with introducing freeride mountain biking to the world in the 1990s. “We couldn’t peel him off the track,” Gronross said, beaming.
Sherbinin and Butler are no strangers to riding, guiding, or building bike tracks and parks. This winter, while Sherbinin taught trail-building techniques at Capilano College’s Sunshine Coast outdoors campus as part of the recently inaugurated Mountain Bike Operations Certificate program, Butler handled the design and construction of the pump track. “The skill of young rippers never ceases to amaze me,” Butler said as he pointed out how effortlessly a group of teenagers launched themselves off a lattice of teeter-totters, ramps, and towering “stunts” erected nearby. Sherbinin concurred: “Something very exciting is happening here right now. A lot of my students from the program are helping as volunteers. We’re drawing all the different threads of the bike community together.”
As pro downhill and freeride competitors, the couple raced in some of the earliest mountain-bike contests at Whistler. “It’s important to change directions every once in a while,” Butler said. “Typically, pump tracks are shaped of dirt. The only other wooden one is in Cleveland.” With more than a little community pride, he pointed out that the NSMBA was only able to achieve this coup thanks to a donation from Gus’ Hardware in Deep Cove, which has also offered to store the bulky track when it’s not in use.
Plans are for the portable structure to be reassembled for this spring and summer’s NSMBA Ripper race series on Mount Seymour and Mount Fromme.
As for the long-term advantages of rolling around the pump track with the ease of a roulette ball, Sherbinin pointed out that riding the track breeds familiarity with techniques suited to North Shore trails and the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, which are “places where you don’t do a lot of pedalling, but mostly stand up on your pedals while navigating through the trees, the same as you would while skiing or snowboarding”.
Along with the pump track, the NSMBA’s current initiatives include the slated completion later this year of the massive Inter-River bike park on the hillside adjacent to Capilano College. With membership up 20 percent over last year, there are plenty more hands to help with projects such as monthly trail-maintenance parties.
By far the loftiest scheme taken on by the NSMBA is the proposed Richard Juryn Memorial Trail. At the Outdoor Adventure show, club director Robin Harvey outlined the status of the plan that will honour the gifted mountain-bike-event organizer who died while kayaking in Howe Sound last October. Just as the Inter-River park’s designer, Jay Hoots, credits Juryn with inspiring that mega bike complex, Harvey points to the memorial trail as another of his dreams. “Richard always wanted to see a trail accessible to all,” the special-events promoter explained. “We expect to make the announcement of where the trail will be located by the end of June. For certain it will tie in with Inter-River.”
In the meantime, Harvey proudly displayed another of the club’s recent accomplishments, a waterproof map of lower Mount Seymour’s elaborate trail network. In addition, with grants from Mountain Equipment Co-op and the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, the NSMBA has vastly improved signage and markings, including GPS coordinates and search-and-rescue location markers, along the 18 trails covered on the map. Riders, start pumping.