Riding the pump track at Torguson Park in North Bend, Wash. Credit: Devon Hammer
A roller coaster ride on a bike!
With all credit due to the balance bike that my son started riding at age 2, he got the two-wheeled bike thing down on his first try. Since then, riding his bike has become a bit of an obsession. His very favorite thing is to find a hill and try what he calls “mountain biking.”
The thrill of the hill that he loves sparked my quest to find a designated area for him to exercise this newfound interest. To my delight, I discovered pump tracks. I don’t recall these types of places existing when I was a kid, or I just wasn’t cool enough to know about them. Either way, they seemed to be made for my thrill-seeking, biking-obsessed 5-year-old. And as it turns out, my balance-bike-riding 3-year-old enjoys them as well! Plus, for the most part, it is a biking activity where I can watch from the sidelines instead of chasing after an increasingly fast 5-year-old on a bike.
What is a pump track?
A pump track is a continuous loop of small and large hills and banked turns. The idea is that you use the momentum from the hills to “pump” (use your up and down body motion) to propel yourself through the course rather than having to pedal. However, pedaling isn’t off-limits, and bikers of all skill levels will have fun going up and down through the course. From our experience, the culture around pump tracks seems incredibly helpful and courteous, where the more advanced riders do a great job of being patient and looking out for new and younger riders.
Use the arrows above the image to check out some of our favorite pump tracks in the Seattle area.