Nfld. & Labrador

Cyclists pumped for new St. John's bike track

It's taken years of behind-the-scenes work but cyclists in St. John's will soon have access to a pump track.

Avalon Mountain Biking Assocation gets go-ahead for new pump track

This photo of a pump track in Nova Scotia shows what the course would look like. (Shoreline Dirtworks)

It's taken years of behind-the-scenes work but cyclists in St. John's will soon have access to a pump track. 

The paved bicycling track — 35 metres long by 35 metres wide — will sit next to Quidi Vidi Lake, the first one to be built in St. John's.

"It is something that's missing out of our cycling infrastructure here," Avalon Mountain Bike Associations director Anna Brophy said in a recent interview.

"It helps people who haven't ridden before get into the sport in a safe way, free of traffic."

A pump track is a loop of berms and rollers that is ridden by "pumping" your body up and down over the features to generate momentum, without pedaling or pushing.

Andy Brake Seaward, seen in this 2020 photo, negotiates a berm, or banked turn, on a pump track in Pasadena, N.L. (Troy Turner/CBC)

The track will cost between $150,000 and $175,000, but before the Avalon Mountain Biking Association went to St. John's city council they had a large portion of that cash already in hand. 

"Canary Cycles generously donated $100,000 toward this project," Brophy said. "They were really the ones that kind of got this whole thing moving."

Canary Cycles made a $100,000 donation to help make the dream of the pump track a reality. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The City of St. John's donated land near Quidi Vidi Lake as well as $60,000 to cover building costs and the mountain biking association is contributing $30,000 to the project, including operation.

"We've already actually gotten approached by some corporate sponsors," said Brophy.

The group is also raising money online to help cover its contribution. 

Avalon Mountain Bike Associations director Anna Brophy hopes the new track will help grow cycling in the city. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

While a pump track might look a little intense for some, Brophy said the paved course is designed for anyone to use and is accessible to more users than just cyclists.

"Scooters, wheelchairs and skateboards are actually able to use it as well."

There have long been plans to build a trail system St John's for the mountain biking community, but some of the trails and terrain aren't very forgiving to first-time bikers.

A pump track provides a practice space for newcomers to hone their skills before moving to more difficult trails. 

"It's hard to get a bike in this city right now — stocks are limited, services limited, parts are limited," said Brophy.

 "A lot of people have what what they need to to get into the sport so we're hoping that this will just really drive more participation."

Another benefit to the course is that can be used as a training site for the 2025 Canada Games for races.

Brandon Kelly enjoys a ride through the Pasadena pump track in 2020. (Troy Turner/CBC)

The association has to follow the city's public procurement process but the hope is to break ground by the fall.

Brophy said anticipation is already building for the new cycling facility. 

"From what I'm hearing personally a lot of families are really excited about being able to take their kids somewhere because it's hard to find places that are safe to ride with your children," she said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Jeremy Eaton is a reporter and videojournalist with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador.


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