Whether you mountain bike North Carolina’s rugged singletrack or ride the greenways and want to up your game, the fall opening of the Poston Pump Track in Gaston County has expanded your options considerably. It’s the first asphalt track on the East Coast between Miami and New York City and a game-changer for Carolina cyclists. You’d have to go all the way to Tennessee or Arkansas to find another one like it. Here’s everything you need to know about the unique bike park—and how to maximize your next trip to the Poston Pump Track.
Singletrack, BMX, and More
Mountain bikers have been riding George Poston Park’s five stacked, dirt loops for over a decade, with popular trails climbing Spencer Mountain for 10 miles from the lakeside trailhead. With the new pump track, experienced riders can warm up with a few loops on the track before hopping on the trails, and beginners and kids can learn skills, practice technique, and build confidence. From the lake parking lot, you can bike the singletrack trails, ride the pump track, or cycle the paved greenway. There’s a bike share rental station, restrooms, and a dog park on site. There are no age restrictions, but children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
International pump track pioneer Velosolutions designed the Gaston County track for optimum speed and flow. Multiple lines offer a progression so both beginners and pros can ride at their own level. The two interconnected loops cover a 10,000-square-foot space and are designed to flow together for riders who want to build up speed and ride both loops continuously. The mirror image loops are also ideal for head-to-head competitions. Future plans include hosting events like the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship Qualifier.
Beginners can take it slow over the smooth rollers, a series of moderate ups and downs that flow into the course’s four banked turns, or berms. If you’re just starting out, pick a low line and easy pace through the berm and on to the next series of rollers. Experienced riders will want to double up on rollers to catch air before hitting it hard on the tight S-curves and banked corners. Platforms on either end of the track are the spot to opt out, rest up, and drop back in for your next lap.
Features and Technique
Pump track features are spaced to make pedaling inefficient, so you have to rock, or pump, back and forth to propel your bike through the course. To build momentum, drop your weight back away from the handlebars as you approach a roller, then lean into the handlebars through your hands and feet as you crest the roller and ride down the other side. Controlling and maintaining speed is the goal through the berms. Always look ahead at the course to pick your line and direction. You’ll also want to balance on your feet in a hover position, keeping your upper body quiet and centered over your bike frame while flexing at the knees and hips to absorb the terrain.
More advanced riders can take a feature that beginners roll through and change it up to make the course more challenging. One way to do this is to double it up and air over tightly spaced rollers. Another is to manual, or lift your front wheel at the top of the roller while letting your back wheel track the ground. Add tricks like big jumps and whips to your repertoire when you’ve mastered the basics.
Although the track is designed with BMX and mountain bike riders in mind, it’s open for other sports as well. On any given day, you’ll share the track with elementary-age children riding bikes with their parents, senior rollerbladers, skateboarders, and older kids on scooters. It’s a super physical, total body workout for any age and level rider that sharpens balance skills and teaches you how to use terrain for other sports like skiing and snowboarding.
“It’s a fast track and intense cardio workout,” says Gaston County Parks & Recreation Director Cathy Hart. “Riders typically only take one or two laps max before they take a break.” Weekend crowds manage themselves as new riders drop in when others opt out.
To ride the Poston Pump Track, you’re required to wear a helmet, and full protective gear is recommended, including knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves with wrist guards. While you can ride any kind of bike, a BMX or jump bike is ideal. Mountain bikes are the best back up, especially if you drop your seat, shorten your handlebar stem, and increase your tire pressure.
Sound like fun? Even if you’re not about to start learning BMX tricks, the track is a fun way to work on your mountain bike skills and challenge yourself with a few quick laps. It’s a unique feature that makes George Poston Park an excellent destination for anyone who enjoys riding on two wheels.
Written by Ann Gibson for RootsRated Media in partnership with Gaston County Gov.