Pump It

A group of top mountainboard riders hits the North Region BMX Series track – while one of their comps is in progress! 

Boardercross fiend Leon Dove from WestCoast ATB brings us the story…

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So I had previously fallen in love with the Crewe BMX track.

You can see why in this clip.

Crewe is great but quite far away from me. I’d remembered there was this other one much closer to home: the Mid Lancs BMX Track… Mark ‘Skully’ Sullivan and I had tried it out once some years ago and I recalled it being hard work and not particularly rewarding to ride, unless you just wanted a beast of a work out! However as it is just down the road from us, and a pump track is always good practise, we decided it was time for another look…

We weren’t disappointed; the old style track had been completely revamped. Beyond one of the steepest BMX start lanes in the UK lay a ribbon of flowing rollers, doubles, step-ups and tables surfaced with double grade aggregate and finished off with more than just a sprinkling of limestone dust, all linked to together with shiny static wave-like berms of tarmac.

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More than a bit giddy to have a track that rode as well as Crewe, but without the 2 & 1/2 hour round trip, we called Jack ‘Chewy’ Chew and told him to get over straight away. That was at the end of the 2014 season and we’ve have been riding it regularly ever since, especially in the winter when it’s allowed us to escape the skate park and get a dirt fix.

The local bikers have always been friendly and looked at us with a mixture of bemusement curiosity and admiration, commonly asked questions were, What is that? How do you do that without pedals? Has it got a motor?

Mid Lancs BMX club were always happy for us to ride the track when they weren’t using it for clubs nights or race events.

TheNorth-BMXA few weeks ago on my way home from work I stopped by the track to put in a few laps, I saw the diggers were in and that work was been done to the track, fearing the worst I apprehensively approached the two fellas doing the work, turned out it was Ian and Andrew, two of the clubs big cheeses.
After explaining what changes were being made (which to my relief was just changing a set of three rollers into a double), the conversation basically went “hey we’ve seen you guys riding your wheely boards around here and we think it looks pretty good, fancy doing a demo during our regional comp in a couple of weeks? Oh and there will be around 900 spectators!”
Instantly the ‘love of the sport’ and ‘showing off in front of a captive audience’ parts of my brain began lighting up. I explained that Chewy, Skully and I were the only local riders and that Chewy was out of action. However I was mad keen and even at this short notice I reckoned we could get enough riders to put on that demo. I hurried home and started to spread the word. Even with the short notice and the fact that most had to trael a considerable distance, we got the number of riders who said they would come into double digits.

Fast forward to just before the demo: I had dreams of riders turning up to the track in the glorious weather that had been a staple of the last three weeks, with trips off-site to hit local trails, followed by flood light sessions on the track, and the evening finished off with beer and BBQ.  However I really should have learned by now that the Mountain Board Gods revel in sadism. The weather not only turned, it went fully apocalyptic with flood warnings in full effect.

Do you know what those riders who promised to come did? They only went and bloody turned up didn’t they!! Legends one and all.

NorthBMX-Mountainboarding-At 1pm on the Saturday the biblical rain came in and didn’t leave until 5, just long enough to put up our tents before it resumed. Whilst we huddled under a gazeebo and found solace in the afore-mentioned beer, the bikers valiantly fought to protect their track; now this track usually shrugs off weather that would kill most mountain board comps dead, but the combination of a new section of track and unprecedented rainfall was to be it’s Achilles heel and the track was shut.
We did manage to sneak in a few runs late in the evening, up to and beyond the flood lights going off at 10pm before returning to our camp to huddle, drink, chat and laugh into the small hours of the morning.

On the Sunday not only was it not raining but you could see tiny hints of blue sky through the clouds. Yes.

Another sight that lifted our spirits was the realisation that the suggested audience figures of around 900 people was actually happening: things got real busy, real quick!

Now a BMX comp is a well oiled machine, military like in its organisation whilst retaining a fun & exciting yet relaxed atmosphere.

We were given time slots for when we could practice and when the full demo would happen. Even during our practice session there was a lot of interest from the crowd, especially the younger bikers most of whom had never seen a mountain board before.

However that was nothing to the support the riders got during the full demo!

Although we couldn’t race the full track as intended, we did some four man hole shot races. The crowd cheered us on as we launched out the start gates accelerating down the track, pumping every feature for all its worth before going into the berms jostling for position…

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There was some great racing and the track performed well in the end.

We even had Scott Leadbetter wearing two helmets that day, as he was there racing BMX with his sons – between heats, he’d put his bike to one side and grab his board!

When we could race no more, we set the kickers up on the first table top.

The spectators were in for a treat: first came the stylish grabs & tweaks of Skully, Tom Reese, Ash Mullholand and Andy Dumelow.

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Then Tom & Ash stepped it up to the next level, first with some floaty frontside & backside 3s, and whippy 5s, before fully getting the measure of the unconventional freestyle set-up and throwing some laid back flips including Indy nosebone backflips into the mix.

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The crowd were certainly picking up what these guys were putting down!

The kids were queuing up the start ramp to chat to the riders and lining up to have a jump around on a Trampa Holy Pro Junior in the spectator area…

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There was so much interest from kids and adults alike, all keen to know more about the sport and where they could try it.

I truly believe that we could we learn a thing or two from the BMX scene not only in terms of their organisation and track building skills but also that our BMX cousins share our enthusiasm for fast & furious racing and challenging yourself through sport.

Scott-BMXThere is a legion of like-minded people out there who get it and are excited to know more; we should not be shy in promoting it to them. Will they convert and leave their bikes behind for good? No I don’t think so and I wouldn’t wish them to! As Scott is proving there is room for more than one amazing sport in most people’s lives.

I would like to thank the riders, Tom Reese, Ash Mullholland, Andy Dumelow, Graham Wedderburn, Nathan Scott, Daniel Kernahan, Nash Er, Scott Leadbitter and Skully and the wives & girlfriends support crew for battling through the truly awful weather and doing our sport proud.

I’d also like to thank Mid Lancs BMX Club for their support and offer of future use of their track for mountain board events, and to all the bikers that were involved in the high octane, truly entertaining racing that day.”

Leon Dove

If you Mountainboard and havn’t ridden a BMX style pump-track, find one near you and give it a go.

Likewise if you BMX and havn’t ridden a downhill mountainboard BX course, get yourself to a UK Mountainboard Centre – cycle the tracks then get a mountainboard lesson: you’ll love it.

Get in touch with Leon and these guys with WestCoast ATB on Facebook

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Crackin’!