There’s a new spot to hang out with friends and family in Gaston County, with just the right mix of outdoors, exercise, and a dash of adventure. If you haven’t tried out the George Poston Park Pump Track by now, it’s time to get on your bike and ride.
Building on the popularity of the park’s 10-plus miles of singletrack trail, the 10,000-square-foot roller coaster of berms and rollers is designed to give experienced mountain bikers a place to warm up and practice new moves while setting beginners up for success with a condensed and approachable training ground. If weekend crowds of bikers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, and scooters are any indication, the track is hitting the mark in all categories. What’s more, Red Bull is bringing its Pump Track World Qualifier to Gaston County this fall. Check it out for yourself with our tips for getting the most out of your ride.
1. Build Confidence
Getting comfortable in the saddle is what a pump track is all about. The controlled environment is ideal for going from pedal to pump and taking your mountain biking skills to a whole new level. Practice lightening up your pressure on the front of the rollers and going heavy on the back to achieve a smooth flow all the way through the course.
2. Try New Moves
Once you’re picking up speed, carving your turns, and jumping tight rollers, push the envelope by picking new lines to ride. Try pinballing from berm to berm, railing your turns, and manualing through the rollers (that is, keeping your front wheel off the ground to pick up speed). For even more quickness, practice leaning your bike and get low over your handlebars as you enter the tight S-curves.
3. Polish Your Technique
Take advantage of platforms on either end of the track to take a break and assess your ride. Because the track is a condensed version of terrain and obstacles you’ll find on the trails, it’s a perfect venue for coaching and hitting challenging features over and over until you nail them.
4. Ride for Strength
A side benefit of all your training time is the strength and endurance you’ll be building while you practice. Think in terms of progression: Attempt to increase the intervals of continuous pumping to find your sweet spot. Activate those quick-twitch muscles and increase your power by adding full-speed sprint intervals to your ride.
5. Train for the Trails
When your schedule doesn’t allow for a couple of hours on a mountain bike trail, the compact design of a pump track is a great alternative to push your anaerobic limit at a much faster pace. Improve your endurance, strength, concentration, and technique with a few key drills. Try ripping a lap at top speed, clock your time, then set your sights on beating it. Push your top speed as long as you can, which is only three to five laps for most riders, then push through the burn with one more lap. Next session, work on endurance, pace, and flow by riding as many laps as you can. Be aggressive and go for a high number like 100 laps to test your limits. Your efforts will pay off in power and agility back on the trail.
6. Find a Riding Partner
Buddying up for outdoor adventure is always the safest way to go, and it adds to the fun. When you’re riding the Poston Park Pump Track, connect with Gaston’s growing mountain biking community to meet cyclists with the same interests and ability level as you. Find riding partners, and even organize group rides, on local online forums like the Piedmont Area Singletrack Alliance and Tarheel Trailblazers. You can even help expand the regional singletrack trail network by volunteering for a trail workday.
7. Learn From the Pros
Watch the fastest pump track riders in the world go head to head on two mirror-image loops at Poston Park on September 22. The Red Bull Pump Track World Qualifier is one of more than 20 races held all over the globe from Bali to the Netherlands, leading up to the championship race in Switzerland in mid-October.
8. Come to BIKE Fest
Bike demos, guided rides, and skills clinics are just some of the reasons the mountain bike community turns out for this annual mountain biking party. This year’s BIKE Fest takes place on September 21-22. Talk to local bike shop reps about the latest gear and which model is right for your riding style. Plus you can enjoy live music and food trucks while you’re there.
Written by Ann Gibson for Matcha in partnership with Gaston County Gov.