By David Markham
Since it first opened about seven years ago, the pump track for cyclists in Shawnee Mission Park has gone through a lot of changes, but the latest revisions have given it two new runs with exciting new features.
“The pump track has changed more times than I can count since it was first built,” said JCPRD Single-track Manager Derek Buckridge. “In 2016 it started off in a 30’x30’ area and has now built out most of the hill it sits on. With the new additions, the goal is to give kids and beginners a level of progression that cannot be found elsewhere in the metro. The ultimate goal is to grow the sport, to get more people on bikes and in nature nature, and to provide a unique amenity and experience for our users.”
The two new runs within the pump track, which is located just north of the marina parking lot in Shawnee Mission Park, are called the Snake River Run.
“The name came about following the design of the interior-made creek,” Buckridge said. “I wanted the kids’ runs to have a theme, and get them excited for the ‘bike playground.’ It popped into my head one day while brainstorming and it stuck. We then started incorporating more creek/farm like features to give it a bit of character and talking piece as people came to ride.
The track’s new features include an eight-foot galvanized culvert to ride through, and a well-worn canoe which has found a final resting place beneath some board-walk-type trail.
“The canoe just carried the theme; I like the idea of unique and thinking outside the box while trying to incorporate beneficial, yet fun features,” Buckridge said. “The canoe has actually traveled many parts of the United States for 30 years, and we were able to give it a final resting place at Shawnee Mission Park.”
Buckridge was quick to note that the new additions started with a vision from Trail Volunteer Doug Monroe.
“I was able to take his visions and design/build the new larger jump line and Snake River Run to accompany the pump track and existing dirt jumps,” Buckridge said.
The recent improvements were built in cooperation with the Urban Trail Co. and the JCPRD trail building crew.
“Dirt jumps are very hard to maintain with Kansas’ soil composition and fluctuating weather,” Buckridge explained. “Doug (Monroe) has poured thousands of hours into the pump track and has now built up a steady crew of volunteers to help continue the progress of the pump track. JCPRD was looking at how we could help support the volunteer organization that has done so much to help provide one of our greatest amenities. JCPRD designed and built the additional dirt jumps and the new snake river run. We also added a man-made creek down the middle of the entire track while installing culverts and trail building techniques to shed water and lead to quicker drying times following wet weather. We are typically able to open the pump track within 24 hours of a rain after the work was completed.”
Snake River Run was designed with kids in mind and purpose built for them, but it’s open to other riders as well.
“I have had countless beginner riders (adults and teens) tell me how much these two runs have helped them progress and grow as riders,” Buckridge said. “So while this is intended for kids, users of all ages have been enjoying it. Just “Duck” when you head into the tunnel if you’re an adult.”
The revised track is already proving very popular with riders.
“It’s rare to not see someone/families enjoying all the work that has gone into the additions. From little tikes (“groms” in the mountain bike world) to adults, its usage is heavy and rapidly growing. If you love what you see, let JCPRD know how much you love it and want more.”
For more information about this project, visit the pump track’s Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/1107321422722603/. Note that trails close in inclement weather, and you can check the trail’s current status can be found at rainoutline.com/search/extension/9132040204/11.