The pump track is the newest rage in aerobic home gyms, made for those who hate treadmills and other hamster-like workout devices.

Also dubbed as “the new horseshoes,” the pump track is a backyard favorite for neighbors and bike buddies getting together to hone in on skills without driving to the woods. Plus, the beer fridge is much closer.

This dirt track is generally shaped like a figure-eight and can fit in as small a space as 20-foot x 30-foot. The tighter the track, the more technical it becomes.

Don’t be fooled by what may appear to the untrained eye as a “small” track. The trick is to ride the whole track without pedaling, only pumping the bike by pushing it higher and faster into berms, jumping and manualling rollers, cornering quickly, and powering the bike up and down. Overall, it trains and strengthens the body to finesse the bike, enabling riders to transfer to the singletrack trails with sweet technical skills and great cardio—and it’s a helluva a lot more fun than a spin class.

Backyard pumptracks are springing up all over the region. Ben Blitch has created three of the six in Asheville, incorporating it into his trail-building business.
“The whole concept of a pump track is to make it malleable,” Blitch says. It is constantly dialed in by moving a half-inch of dirt here and there. Future add-ons can consists of cut-thru lines that create direction reversals, or even ramps that lead into the track.”

Riding tips:
-Stay balanced over the pedals while pumping.

-Alternate directions every few laps.

-Change your lead foot every few laps.

-Crank down when entering a berm to increase traction and speed.

-Look through the turns, rather than at what you’re riding.

—Bettina Freese

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