I’m not sure when pump tracks were “invented,” but I think I’ve always wanted one in my backyard. Like, before I ever had a backyard. Before I rode bikes. Maybe from birth. My desire for a pump track was more like a primal urge, akin to the drive to eat small animals and procreate.
A dirty playground that I can ride in circles, in my own yard.
And it only took me 10 years to convince my wife building a pump track was a good idea. Actually my son convinced her. He’s six and obsessed with bikes. Working together, we broke her down until finally she said okay. “But you’ll keep it small?” It was posed as a question but I knew from experience it was not a question. I could build a pump track, but it would be a tiny pump track. I think I started digging before she finished her pseudo question.
Sometimes when you dream about something for so long, and then it finally happens, that thing cannot possibly live up to the anticipation and hype you’ve built up in your head. Like, I grew up as a red blooded American boy in the ’80s and ’90s, so I dreamt of two things and only two things: Elle Macpherson, and a Russian invasion that forced me and the rest of my soccer team to fight guerrilla style for freedom. What can I say? It was a simpler time.
Now, I know that if Russia did invade or if I did get to take Elle Macpherson to the Olive Garden, it probably wouldn’t be that great.
The pump track, on the other hand, is totally living up to its expectations. My son rides it constantly and has friends over to ride it too. This is great because instead of bothering me for snacks or Band-Aids, they ride bikes. In circles. On dirt.
Speaking selfishly, the pump track has completely changed my life. The track itself is nothing outrageous, mind you—a couple of tight berms and some rollers in between—but it’s fun. During the day, I take work breaks and knock out 15-minute shred sessions. When the kids get home from school, we ride it together. I’ll knock out a couple of quick loops while I’m cooking on the grill, or taking the trash out. And it’s given me a whole new concept of “Happy Hour.” A small cooler of beer and a couple of buddies, and we have an hour of entertainment.
My latest pump track session was enhanced by Missile IPA from Champion Brewing. This is my first beer from the Charlottesville-based Champion. You gotta respect a brewery that calls themselves “Champion” right out of the gate. Missile is a solid IPA, not as sweet and citrusy as some others in this category—it leans more on the pine side of things, and has a really nice drying effect when all is said and done. I’m excited to dig into more styles from this brewery. I have their Kolsch sitting in my beer fridge right now. My beer fridge that sits maybe 25 feet from my pump track. If that’s not the American Dream, I don’t know what is.