It was easy to see (and hear) the growing confidence in a 7-year-old newcomer to the Ada/Eagle Bike Park’s pump track, a small oval of humps and two banked turns designed to create some basic mountain-biking skills.
Work on the pump track benefits young cyclists “even if they never go on a dirt trail,” said Steve Noyes, the trails coordinator for the city of Eagle. The unfamiliar feeling of riding over the dirt mounds teaches them to handle “panic situations,” he said, like jumping off a curb on the way to school.
The pump track serves as an introduction to mountain bikes for newcomers of all ages. Noyes starts all of his lessons there.
But it’s particularly appealing to children because of the mild nature of the mounds and the limited consequences to falling in the controlled area.
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“This is what I love to see when I come out here,” Noyes said, as he watched the child smile and laugh his way around the track. “Spring break and in the summer, this thing is just full of little people.”
The bike park includes a skills area that also has some beginner elements, downhill-specific trails for those who want the gravity thrills, jump-laden tracks for the acrobats and a cross-country trail connecting it all — enough for everyone in a mountain-biking family to find something to do.
And everyone should spend time on the pump track, Noyes says. The idea is to ride from start to finish without pedaling, learning to use your body to capitalize on the momentum created by the backside of the humps. The first half of the track is slightly uphill. The second half is slightly downhill.
Some advanced riders will spend a half-hour on the pump track.
“I do this all the time,” Noyes said. “This is a very useful skill in mountain biking. ... You use the earth to get energy.”
To reach the Bike Park, go north on Horseshoe Bend Road from State Street.