Pumped up

Hillside pump track of­fers unique ex­pe­ri­ence

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - KEITH BRYANT kbryant@nwadg.com

■ The 600-foot-long loop is be­ing built near Cooper El­e­men­tary School.

A new bi­cy­cle-cen­tric fea­ture is go­ing up next to Cooper El­e­men­tary School, fill­ing an oth­er­wise empty space along­side the school.

Erin Rush­ing with North­west Arkansas Trail­blaz­ers said the sin­gle-di­rec­tional pump track will be a 600-foot­long loop, four to five feet wide, with a mix of con­crete and wooden sur­faces. The track, be­ing built by Pro­gres­sive Trail De­sign, is ex­pected to be com­pleted by mid-Septem­ber, he said, at a cost of a lit­tle more than $100,000. The track was funded with left­over money from the Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion grants that paid for the Back 40 Trails’ con­struc­tion.

This track, he said, is geared to­ward a higher skill level than the one by Ben­tonville’s dog park, and it’s very dif­fer­ent from the one at Met­field, which is es­sen­tially a large con­crete bowl peo­ple can take dif­fer­ent lines through. This, he said, is en­gi­neered as a sin­gle loop with bumps and jumps. Rid­ers will de­scend for most of the track with no need to pedal the ma­jor­ity of it, he said, then face a very short climb be­fore de­scend­ing again.

“We try to make these all kind of dif­fer­ent,” Rush­ing said. “We want dif­fer­ent skill sets, dif­fer­ent va­ri­ety, dif­fer­ent jumps, tech­niques … It’s re­ally about di­ver­sity and find­ing some­thing for ev­ery­one.”

The track is on school prop­erty, he said, and Cooper El­e­men­tary School has been great to work with.

Paul Wal­lace, di­rec­tor of fa­cil­i­ties with the Ben­tonville School District, said he is ex­cited to see this project, and it could prove ben­e­fi­cial to the school’s bike pro­gram.

It could also, he said, help to pro­mote more use of the ex­er­cise equip­ment it’s po­si­tioned next to.

“I be­lieve this is def­i­nitely some­thing that’s go­ing to ben­e­fit schoolkids, plus the Bella Vista com­mu­nity,” he said. “We’re not just a school that’s go­ing to ed­u­cate the kids dur­ing the day­time, we want to be good com­mu­nity part­ners.”

The project started with earth­work led by Hardy Cly­att, fore­man with Pro­gres­sive Trail De­sign. Work­ers brought in dirt with high clay con­tent to build up and shape the course, lit­ter­ing it with table­tops and humps and berms, he said.

“We’ve never done one like this,” he said.” I’m ex­cited to see how it turns out.”

Cly­att said that, with the lay­out’s short climb and quick de­scent, he ex­pects it to feel like a roller­coaster.

While he was ex­cited to see the next step — the con­crete — he said it was nerve-wrack­ing to know the track couldn’t be re­shaped and ad­justed once it was down. He hoped, he said, that the shapes all work out to plan.

“I’ll be ner­vous un­til I put my bike on it,” Cly­att said.

Once he got that chance, he said, he was happy with the re­sult. He had a few cri­tiques, he said, but the track proved fun to ride.

It’s also a great work­out, he said, and af­ter an hour of rid­ing most any­one is likely to be worn out. More­over, he said, this track pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to build rid­ing skills that trans­late tidily to tack­ling trails.

“It’s fast,” Cly­att said. “You can roll through the whole thing with­out ped­al­ing.”

The con­crete layer cap­ping this loop was han­dled by Bam Shotcrete, headed up by Jeff Ariza. The firm has done work all over North Amer­ica, Ariza said, in­clud­ing skate parks, swim­ming pools and some other pump tracks.

They started by lay­ing a grid of steel re­in­force­ment, he said, be­fore mov­ing to cover it in shotcrete — that is to say they shoot con­crete all over it, pump­ing a steady sup­ply of con­crete and pro­pel­ling it with ap­prox­i­mately 1,300 PSI of air.

“It’s ba­si­cally a con­crete, but you shoot it out of a gun,” he said. “It’ll be a skate­able, ride­able sur­face — it’s got to flow.”

Clay­ton Woodruff, vice pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions with Pro­gres­sive Trail De­sign, said this track is wildly dif­fer­ent from oth­ers in part be­cause it’s built on a hillside, while most are on flat ground.

“We had some el­e­va­tion, so we kind of wanted to play with that el­e­va­tion,” he said.

The track is made with con­crete, he said, to keep it low main­te­nance and durable, and it will be given a broom fin­ish to im­prove trac­tion.

Once the con­crete work was fin­ished, he said, the to-do list be­came fairly short.

“We just have to do fin­ish­ing work,” Woodruff said, “which is just mak­ing it look pretty.”

Pho­tos by Keith Bryant/Weekly Vista

Hardy Cly­att, fore­man with Pro­gres­sive Trail De­sign, leaps over a table­top on a foggy Fri­day morn­ing, shortly af­ter con­crete work was com­pleted on Bella Vista’s new pump track next to Cooper El­e­men­tary.

Hardy Cly­att uses a com­pact back­hoe to shape a berm on what will be a pump track next to Cooper El­e­men­tary School. Cly­att said con­crete will be placed over the dirt and wooden fea­tures will also be in­cluded in the fi­nal prod­uct. The fi­nal loop, he said, will be 575 feet long and six feet wide, with a de­scent and a climb. “Kind of like a bi­cy­cle roller coaster,” he said.

Hardy Cly­att rolls through a con­crete berm while test­ing out the fresh con­crete work on Bella Vista’s new pump track. With the con­crete in place, he said, the re­main­ing work was mostly cleanup and beau­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Ron­nie Ter­ran, left, with Bam Shotcrete, sprays shotcrete onto re­bar-clad earth­work while Sammy Valen­zuela, Mar­cas Ibara and Sal Tru­jillo smooth the con­crete to cre­ate a small table­top on what will be­come a pump track next to Cooper El­e­men­tary School.

An­drew Bothan uses a bob­cat to move dirt to build a pump track near Cooper El­e­men­tary School.

Trail­builder Uriah Nazario takes a trial run on the pump track’s freshly-shaped dirt to help test the shape be­fore con­crete is placed over it. "I think a lot of kids will be able to cut their teeth out here," Nazario said.

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