Capitola All In for Bicycle Pump Track

A pump track is set to open in Capitola in November 2014.

by Maya Desai

Oct. 29, 2014—The city of Capitola has spoken, and what it wants are bumps in the dirt.

Not just bumps. Slopes and jumps sculpted out of packed earth are also essential to this project—a bicycle pump track.

In November, Capitola will join Santa Cruz, Aptos and Scotts Valley in the ranks of local towns with their own pump tracks. The track is being built on a vacant lot on McGregor Drive near New Brighton State Beach and will share the space with a skate park and dog park.

A bicycle pump track is like a skate park for mountain bikers. Cyclists of all levels can enjoy pump tracks, and they are popular with children.

“Really, the driving force behind pushing for the pump track is that the city manager is an avid biker,” jokes Lisa Murphy, administrative services director at the city of Capitola. The city is funding the infrastructure of the new facility, such as the parking lot and fences. Family Cycling Center and Crossfit are co-sponsoring the pump track itself.

Construction on most pump tracks is community-driven, according to Mark Davidson, president of Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz. By contrast, the city of Capitola is managing this project, not community members.

"The city of Capitola taking on this initiative validates pump tracks as a recreational experience," says Davidson. He says he was "intimately involved" in creating the recently-completed Scotts Valley pump track, which he describes as a tough project. "I don't work in public policy or government. It was challenging for us to navigate that process, because we're not in that world," he explains, adding that city involvement brings more resources and expedites the process.

Read The Santa Cruz Pump Track Boom
Read Westside Pump Track Officially Open

The community is still involved, though. Davidson put Murphy in touch with renowned bike facility builder Alan Fowler, who just finished the Scotts Valley track. “We are really excited about [Fowler] and his design,” says Murphy.

The dog park is funded through the nonprofit Ozzi Dog Parks, and will be dedicated to the memory of Joshua Laven. Laven was a cyclist killed in 2012 in a hit-and-run accident north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1. Laven was cycling cross-country east to west with his dog, Ozziet, in memory of his best friend, who had recently died. Ozziet survived the accident, and he is the reason Laven’s body was found; a cyclist couple saw the dog on the side of the road and stopped. After Laven’s death, his family established Ozzi Dog Parks.

The skate park is funded with $50,000 from the Monte Foundation, but community concerns about safety and inadequate funding might delay the opening of the park. “Fifty thousand dollars on a skate park doesn’t get you much,” says Murphy. Cyclists have nothing to fear, though. "[The skate park] might be delayed, but we won't hold up the rest," assures Murphy.

Pump tracks, literally made out of dirt, offer a lot of bang for the buck. They are cheap, malleable, and there is no age or skill limit on who can use them. "It brings community together, it brings people together, it brings families together," says Davidson. "We see families using [pump tracks] together, 40-year-old dads with their 10-year-old sons and daughters using the same track and enjoying it."

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