Monday, August 14th, 2017
The Grand Opening of Bellingham’s Pump Track
Todd Elsworth

Let’s begin by answering the question,What is a Pump Track?”

Greg Heil, editor of the mountain bike daily SingleTracks.com, lays it down, “A pump track is a continuous circuit of dirt rollers, berms, and jumps that loops back on itself, allowing you to ride it continuously” Source: SingleTracks.com 

With the track as the foundation, it’s what you do on your bike that makes this a special place. A well-built flow of the track let’s you pump your body/bike through the turns and over ups and downs in a way that you don’t actually have to pedal the bike. It’s just plain old fun!  Let’s be clear though- it’s still a great challenge and workout- if you’d like it to be so.

Thank you Eric Ashley Photography for sharing your images to tell the complete story. You can see more photos and his story on Pinkbike.com.

The Grand Opening!

This was the moment that many had been waiting for and the reason we were all gathered together on a Wednesday evening in our subdued city. To celebrate the many months of deliberate work with many moving parts and pieces.

Leslie Bryson, our City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation Director gave the backstory on how the project began and came to fruition. For the city, it started with a meeting with Eric “EB” Brown, Trail Director with WMBC. That conversation led to looking around town for an appropriate location in a public city park. Eventually, Whatcom Falls Park was chosen and EB garnered the support of the neighborhood group. Bryson explained in her welcoming remarks that the next group to get approval from was, “the Parks and Recreation Board, with a couple members here, including Bill Hasenjager, and they supported the project. And then, we had to actually amend the Park Master Plan which had to be approved by our City Council. And they voted unanimously for this project to go forward!”

As the applause faded, Bryson laid it out for the crowd, Bellingham’s first pumptrack, “really could not have happened without Eric Brown’s leadership and WMBC and their fundraising and the supporting people that worked on this.”  It was a tremendous community effort that is still underway, as they still have more funds to raise to complete the project. “We owe it to Eric and the WMBC for giving this gift to the citizens of Bellingham.”

After another standing ovation, EB, returned to the microphone with his young daughter Cleo at his side.

He recognized our five council members in attendance including Michael Lilliquist, Pinky Vargas, Roxanne Murphy, Dan Hammill and April Barker. Councilwoman Barker, as Mayor pro-tem, took the mic and iterated how popular this idea is and that this should be just the first in many pumptracks in city parks, including her own Birchwood neighborhood. “It’s taken off so well, that we actually have a placeholder for the Cordata Park. It’s all of you who are creating an inclusive community, within mountain biking, that’s really telling people, that ‘no matter who you are, you are welcome’. It’s places like this, that bring us all together, that help us make this city to be awesome.”

EB got back on the mic and went on to thank locals, Jill Kintner and Bryn Atkinson, for their support in helping convince council of the benefits of the pumptrack idea from the outset. EB referred to this dynamic duo simply, “two of the best pumptrack riders in the entire world!” He moved casually on from that impactful statement and invited Jill up to say a few words to the endearing crowd. Wearing classic Levi’s blue jeans, she rolled her bike up the approach, with her RedBull helmet hanging from the handlebars.

“Who is this Jill Kintner?” and “What does she know about pumptracks and riding bikes?” you ask.

Well,as a RedBull sponsored athlete, her professional pumptrack titles include Crankworx World Champion- 2016; 6-Time Crankworx Canada (’10,’11,’12,’13,’15,’16); Crankworx NZ Champion- 2016; and 2-Time Crankworx France Champion- (’16, ’17). Check out her complete list of results and career highlights in her different bike racing disciplines that include impressive accomplishments in BMX, Downhill, 4X, Slalom and Enduro style racing.

With mic in hand, Kintner got it going out of the gate with high fives and woots from the crowd responding to her shout out, “Yea, first pumptrack in Bellingham!” She went on to refer to EB as the ringleader of the show and gave her two cents on the quality of the results of the process. “In my opinion, this is one of the best ones (pumptracks) as far as the variety and the combinations you can do. The kids can have fun and it’s pretty mellow. This is definitely a good starting point for the next generation…All the little kids are enjoying it and I’m happy to be a part of it.” Check her out: Jill Kintner

Watch video of her out riding the paved pumptrack in the video Leavenworth Pump Track to get a sense of her skills and what this looks like in other communities.

As she passed the mic back to EB, she went on to hug the project leaders and council people. EB gave a little insight into her work world, “She’s got some unfinished business. She’s gotta go win Queen of Crankworks next week (again)”.

Returning to the well deserved Thank You’s, EB gave another shout out to city council and Leslie, our parks director. Then, he turned to thank our parks department project manager, Josh Neyman. “He has been more than a project manager, he’s been my right hand. He’s been in here pulling weeds, packing dirt, watering the track, and diggin’ ditches”. Josh also provided support for the project helping to guide EB through the permitting processes and the nuances of working with the city to be successful.

EB continued his compliments and recognizing “the parks operations folks who have been so helpful and especially the parks board and Mr. Bill Hasenjager who has been so supportive of cycling in Bellingham and everyone who came and spoke in favor of these at the meetings.”  The list goes on. EB gave big shouts out to the volunteers for all their help. Corporate support included REI Bellingham, Construction by Champion, RAM Construction, Gateway Controls, Transition Bikes, Crank Brothers, Freeland Associates, Fanatik, Women in Trail concepts, and Momentum Trail builders.

Speaking of costs to build. EB outlined the project scope. “A lot of people are probably wondering how much this project cost the WMBC. It cost us $46,000.”There’s still more to raise. So consider this like a ride at Disneyland and measure the value against that!

Bit more pumptrack history: The origins of the pump track are BMX trails of the 1970s and 1980s. Australian downhill racers began creating the new era pump tracks around 2002. It just so happened that aforementioned, Bryn Atkinson, is one of Australia’s own superstars, hailing from Townsville, Queensland, Australia. You can follow him on Facebook.

The Ribbon Cutting

The big scissors came out! Eric “EB” Brown invited kids from the audience up on “stage” to be a part of the celebration. It is for the children that he is doing all this work. We applaud him and WMBC for his help and leadership in bringing this to fruition.

Once opened, the crowd was let loose! It seems like a big cluster, but everybody works together to make it happen.

Cool view from above, looking at the “launch pad” where it all begins (and ends).

There’s also a smaller version built alongside for the younger kids! You gotta start somewhere.

Here are some teenagers, having some good ol fun on their bikes.

Get out and try it for yourself! Stay tuned into what is happening for the Bellingham Mountain Bike community at Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition

How to get there:

Whatcom Falls Park 
1401 Electric Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98225

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Note: There are two entrances to Whatcom Falls Park.  To access the pumptrack, use the entrance at 1401 Electric Ave.

For more ways to Get Outside, see the full list of Todd’s articles.

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About the Author:

As the Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse and co-founder of Kulshan Quest Adventure Race, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice.

Get connected at RecreationNorthwest.org.