1. What’s going on?
Following 25 national or local qualifiers scheduled for 2022, the World Final of the series will take place in Santiago de Chile. It will be the third World Championships after the 2019 World Final in Switzerland and 2021 in Portugal, with a one year-break caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, Spain and the Czech Republic were added to the calendar, bringing a total of 2,000 riders participating in national rounds. From the local events, about 70 athletes made it to the starting list of the Santiago race.
2. What’s the hardest part?
In banked corners and berms, a massive vertical force is acting upon the rider, which makes it extremely difficult to hold the handlebars and stay on the bike. Two years ago, organisers of the World Championships (in France) recorded up to +10 G while measuring that force. Given that, a rider must prove the ability of precise steering as the perfect and thus fastest track might be only 10 cm wide.
3. What will the race look like?
Unlike BMX races where riders compete in a group against each other, pump track competitors usually ride alone against the clock. Rather than on tactics, the pump track race depends on extreme concentration. The key is to learn where to slow down to keep the ride smooth and fluent.
4. How challenging are pump track races in terms of fitness?
An average track time is around 30 seconds, in which riders do up to 60 squats at a fast rate. The physical strain is similar to workouts with a barbell at the gym. Just one lap of the race would be considered demanding – but there are many more. Riders advance through qualifying rounds with 5- to 7-minute intervals to restore their powers. Because of the lactates in muscles, pump track races are considered very painful among riders who recommend spreading the strength to endure through all the rounds.
5. What bike is best to choose?
The pump track races are unique as they are open for BMX and MTB bikes whose qualities are very different. Given the design of pump track tracks, the BMX bikes seem faster and more agile in the corners, giving the riders the advantage of higher acceleration. The results from tracks proved the dominancy of BMX bikes, too. On the other hand, organisers of the final event in Santiago promise that the course design for the Santa Fe track has a slightly shorter length than previous tracks at finals with rollers that will ensure a fair battle between BMX and MTB riders.
6. Which country is considered a pump track superpower?
As the sport gains in popularity, a lot of pump track-only specialists emerged around the world. If we could bet on one country, it would be France, which has many skilled riders on both BMX and mountain bikes. Last year’s world champion, Frenchman Eddy Clerté, will have a good chance in Santiago again.