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Bike pump track is taking shape in Middlebury

YOUNGSTERS HAVE A lot of fun while getting some exercise and developing mountain biking skills on the pump track in Bristol. Efforts to build a pump track in Middlebury are underway. Photo courtesy of the Middlebury Pump Track Group

MIDDLEBURY — Biking and fitness enthusiasts are preparing for the creation of a new outdoor exercise amenity that will increase the availability of free, fun and accessible outdoor recreation opportunities in Addison County’s shire town. It’s the Middlebury Bike Pump Track. 

A pump track is a dirt trail — sometimes an oval, sometimes with complex nested loops — on which mountain bikers roll up and over little hillocks and banked turns designed to let the rider create momentum by pumping their body up and down and thus keep forward momentum with little pedaling. They help kids and adults develop important mountain bike skills such as cornering, jumping and positioning on the bike. They are a great way for children and beginner cyclists to experience riding common trail features in a controlled environment. But experts can also challenge themselves on a pump track!

If all goes smoothly, work on the track could begin as soon as this spring.

The Middlebury Pump Track Group is heading up the effort to create the local pump track. The group is a coalition of people from Addison County Bike Club, Addison Central School District and Middlebury Parks and Recreation.

In October the group received the approval of the Middlebury selectboard to site the pump track in the Middlebury Recreation Park between the Mary Hogan School and the Municipal Ice Rink. Key benefits of the location are that it is near the downtown and right beside other recreation spaces, including sports fields, the town swimming pool and playgrounds. Professional trail design and construction company KSA Built of Rutland will be hired to create the packed dirt track. Organizers said the track will be approximately 120 feet by 30 feet and be comprised of several track options with berms and rollers that will allow riders to choose lines based on their ability.

To make the pump track a reality, organizers have started a crowdfunding campaign that ties in with a funding opportunity through the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development. If the Middlebury Pump Track Group can raise $6,000 by Feb. 5, the department will provide a matching grant of $12,000 from its Better Places program.

A YOUNG RIDER works his way around the Moosalamoo pump track that was built a few years back with the assistance of the Addison County Bike Club and Vermont Mountain Bike Association.
Photo courtesy of Eric Berg

“Open space and accessible outdoor recreation activities like the Middlebury Pump Track are integral to healthy and vibrant communities,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Planning and Outreach Manager Richard Amore. “This community-led project will provide opportunities for cyclists to learn to ride, gain confidence and skills, and make Middlebury a more attractive destination for outdoor activities.”

To see the crowdfunding website and to donate, head online to tinyurl.com/MiddPumpTrack.

“This project builds on the work of others who are striving to bring free and accessible outdoor recreational opportunities to Middlebury,” said Erik Remsen, Middlebury Bike Pump Track Group Leader. “When complete, the bike pump will provide fun for bikers of all ages in a location with walking and biking distance of the downtown, schools, and residential neighborhoods.”

As of late last week, the crowdfunding site showed that the Middlebury Pump Track had gained just over $6,000 in pledges, thus meeting its original goal. 

Given the positive result, the group has upped its goal, now aiming to raise a further $2,000 during the remaining days of the campaign. The additional money would be used to by new bike racks for Rec Park and to buy and install soccer backstop netting to keep balls from flying into the pump track.

George Lawrence, president of Addison County Bike Club, said pump tracks are a great place for riders of all skill levels to practice, learn, and have fun. 

“We are excited to support the creation and ongoing maintenance of a pump track in Middlebury,” he said. “We can’t wait to ride it!”

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