Dirt is the original playdough of humanity. Digging, sculpting and engaging with it is innate to our very being and bicycles have evolved to be ridden on it.
What is a pump track ?
A pump track is a circuit of rollers, banked turns and features designed to be ridden completely by “pumping”(generating momentum by up and down body movements) instead of pedaling or pushing.
Some pump tracks, like Crestwood in Baulkam Hills, will also include a few jumps or, like the Northern Beach's enormous new Bare Creek Park, feature entire difficulty- graded jump lines for skills progression and physical challenge. Pump track surfaces can be dirt, asphalt, wood or ‘pop up’ shaped rubber tracks that can be set up and dismantled for ‘pocket’ spaces or events.
Indicative of a societal shift ?
Land managers throughout Greater Sydney have had their hands full with, amongst their other duties, a surge of illegal trails, pump and jump tracks being built by local kids (and adults) in suburbs fringed by any open green spaces. It’s an outcome of the tough COVID19 trials of 2020, insufficient or no facilities for this kind of urban outdoor recreational activity and failure to recognise a meteoric rise in numbers of people enjoying playing on bicycles designed for dirt.
So instead of officials going straight for the usual punitive approach of menacing signs, land locking and demolition, better long term outcomes for all might be achieved by;
A) Recognising the fact that many kids, youths and adults are not actually the slightest bit interested in ‘drive to’ structured, competitive team sports anymore.
B) That there is a paradigm societal shift underway (both voluntary and mandated) toward ‘from home’ unstructured, social outdoor recreational activities; in either natural environments or the outdoor spaces within reserves, parks and even public schools.
Intergenerational play is very under represented in current urban and recreational strategies for our LGA’s and we urgently need the official facilitation of it to maintain both our sanity, and some sense of personal freedom. Dirt is the original Playdough of humanity and engaging with it through play while socialising might be the next best antidote to surviving and thriving an increasingly sanitized, controlled and therefore anxious society.