What are pump tracks?
A pump track is a continuous circuit of banked turns interspaced by rollers that can be ridden on all kinds of human-powered vehicles. Or to put it a little less technically, pump tracks mean great fun for all the family!
Getting around without pedalling
Many places in Switzerland have created asphalt pump tracks near sports facilities and children's playgrounds, making these undulating circuits accessible to a wider public. They can be ridden on kickboards, inline skates, skateboards and balance bikes, for example, as well as pedal-powered BMX bikes and classic mountain bikes.
Even though pump tracks have their origins in the BMX scene, they're tackled without the use of pedals – riders propel themselves forward via rhythmic, up and down body movements known as "pumping". To enable riders to get round the track without pedalling, the rollers are spaced at regular intervals and the elements are approx. 40 centimetres high.
What does the term "pump track" mean?
The two elements that make up this term – "pump" and "track" – are more or less self-explanatory: “track" refers to the undulating circuit, “pump” to the up-and-down body motion.
Roots in the 1970s
BMX bikes first became popular in the 1970s and '80s. Riding on undulating dirt tracks was part of the sport even back then – after all, it was a bit like motocross on bicycles. In the 2000s, pump tracks were mainly used by mountain bikers for training purposes. In the meantime, pump tracks have become mainstream – and we can certainly speak of them as a trend. Whereas the first pump tracks were built out of dirt and therefore required a great deal of maintenance, today's circuits are made of asphalt and built to last. They're seen by communes, towns and neighbourhoods as a meaningful leisure time activity. They've become a place where locals can meet, somewhere that is easily accessible and provides a great opportunity for outdoor exercise.
Pump tracks in Switzerland: the main sites
For everyone keen to try out a pump track: grab your bike from the basement, put on your padding and protection – and off you go. There's no shortage of possibilities: