A German Pumptrack Histrory

Frank Vilgertshover rippin´ the "Green O" Pumptrack in Augsburg, Germany
rider: frank vilgertshofer | photo: frank heinrich | location: „green o“ pumptrack in augsburg, germany

Not long ago, Mark Weir’s pumptrack video has been published. Of course, directly some “experts” were discussing in forums, that this video must be a fake.

But the idea of the pumptrack is not as new as it seems. In fact we had push races on the BMX-racetrack, years ago. Of course you got a launching tower from where you started, but if you got over the first hurdle, you could easily hold speed constantly.

I can remember watching Christoph Leveque combining several dirt lines at the legendary sheep hills, without pedalling. So he could ride the dirt jumps in a circle.

For laymen it’s firstly curious that you can ride at relative high speed without pedalling. But you understand that this is not a perpetual motion machine at the latest after 3 rounds, or 30 seconds on high speed, as your tongue is reaching the ground.

Anyway, it was clear for us to build such a pump track and that as “pronto” as possible! The only question was “where”? The answer came after thinking a long time about this. At the bottom of our dirt jumps was a small virgin forest. Not long after activating the gang to clean a lane, everybody was satisfied by standing in the middle of the sun flushed forest which shall be the location for unexpected new bike adventures. Those activities happened I think in the year 2008.

While the gourmets where discussing about the best BBQ area, the best trackline generated in the heads of the creatives. Over there a few whoops, over there a ground loop, maybe a little jump, perhaps a tree house so we could live hear. Finally you got all you need for living. A Burger King is right next to our spot! In other words the euphoria was huge. Simply because a pump track was a complete new thing for all of us.

Fired by this euphoria, the first rounds could been driven already on the next day’s evening! Actually unbelievable if you consider how long you work on a single dirt landing. Already after a few days doing fine-tuning the first timed round records were established. We were rarely laughing as much as on this day. The pressure by the time measurement causes sometimes loosing control and often it was straight the way into the botany.

Caused by the pumptrack enthusiasm, suddenly bike modification started. Deep, wide bars were mounted, light CC-Tires an light tubes were attached and the forks has been driven at 6,5 cm to bring down the balance point so that you avoid that the front wheel is rearing up while doing speed manuals over the bumps. It even got so far that Frank Vilgertshofer, Alias “BK”, drove only with tachometer on his dirt jumping bike. Readings resulted that a top speed of 35km/h is possible. And during one day the display showed 20 driven kilometers, or in other words 300 rounds.

The highlight of the material battle was reached as Frank Heinrich aka Mr. Leafcycles designed a special pumptrack frame and brought it out on the market in a small series. According built-on was the 10,8 kg bike, the highlight on every pumptrack-session. You actually didn’t want to change back on your own bike after the first try.

Martin Hehl riding a pumptrack in Berlin
rider: martin hehl | photo: frank heinrich | location: Berlin

The fact that such a track has a small grade of determent causes that many people started riding again and even took a shovel in their hands to build up the track. We are talking about people, which were thought to had given up riding completely years ago. The pumptrack was there and suddenly our scene experienced some convivial gatherings. Our dirt trails always have been the place to and it was business in summer to ride them from dusk till dawn, but since the day the pumptrack was built, everything changed.

For young firebrands it’s surely the greatest to do spins around all axes while flying over dirt jumps. But if you reached the tender age of 30+, you’re quite thankful for having fun on the bike without hanging headfirst in the air. But don’t fool us self, there have never been as so much crashes as this season on the pumptrack. While being in speed rush you’re on a small grade of control, especially when you’re too lazy to build the track wider than 40 cm. But in most cases the crashes were harmless.

During the days, when nobody was riding because of sour muscles, plans for pumptrack modifications and track tuning was done. The good side of pumptrack building is, because of the small hurdles the erosion is kept small. You don’t need so much time for repairs and so you have more time for riding and chilling. But the best thing is, after modifications you can usually ride the track at the same day. So some new lines were formed during time. And during the annoying winter break new modification plans were done. But one things is sure already, the upcoming summer season will be fast.

Mike Hörner im Windschatten von Leafcycles Gründer Frank Heinrich. Session auf dem "Green O" Pumptrack
riders: frank heinrich & mike hörner | location: „green o“ pump track in augsburg, germany

ATTENTION: Always wear a helmet. Maybe you ask yourself, why we show pictures of riders riding without helmet? Well, back than in 2008 things sometimes were a bit different. But trust me. Some learned on the hard way and today each of them is using a helmet.