The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bluff Valley skatepark expansion includes pump track


October 12, 2019

Kim E. Strom/Daily Globe

Kyle Sheehan of Bessemer rides the pump track Thursday at Bluff Valley Park in Bessemer that he helped build himself. The pump track installation was a collaborative effort between the city of Bessemer, the Mission Skate Shop, two local businesses and several volunteers, including local youth.


Bessemer - Just outside the old tennis court at Bluff Valley Park in Bessemer where now lays a full skatepark, is what's called a pump track. A pump track is a series of hills and banked turns designed for bikers.

"It's called a pump track because essentially you enter it with the speed you're comfortable with and its features are made so you can carry that speed through the whole thing without peddling. Riders 'pump' down on the hills to gain speed and are able to travel around the track without having to peddle," said Mission Skate Shop owner A.J. Granroth.

Granroth said he first approached the city for permission to build the track in the park and asked that council members make a timely decision. With the go ahead, the city also purchased the dirt for the project. "It's a clay mix with a little bit of dirt and it really packs well," he said. "We couldn't ask for much better dirt than what we got."

The dirt was dumped one week, and Granroth and volunteers showed up the next weekend and shaped it in a day, he said. Granroth rented a Bobcat from a local business which gave him about half off, he said. "It was really awesome because it would have taken a really long time to hand shovel all of that," he said. Then, after two weeks of packing it everyday with a landscape roller, the track was ready.

"It's gotten a lot of use," said Granroth, "and we're really happy with it."

Kyle Sheehan of Bessemer is just one of many who are enjoying the new track. "I've never been on one before," he said. He learned how to ride it himself. "You push down on the handlebars when you're going down" he said. When going up a hill, you lean to take the weight off the front, he said. Sheehan also helped with the track, packing dirt down. "It could use some improvements," he said. "But overall it's good. It's what got me into BMX (bicycle motorcross)."

As for why to ride a pump track, "first of all, it's just a great time," said Granroth. "Also BMX riders can use it in preparation for going out and hitting jumps or rollers. Mountain bikers can use it to learn cornering better, and you can really get the feel of traction under tires in both sports," he said. "Being able to pump through anything is essential for racing or just good practice for keeping control."

Granroth hopes to add more to the track south of the area next year.

"The city has also allowed us to bolt the Bessemer Bluff for rock climbing," Granroth said. "We have three top anchors in for belaying people. It can be used for rock climbing or to rappel off the top. We have some cleaning to do on the ground below and then we can put in anchor bolts," he said.

From the top down, it's about 30 meters, said Granroth. "Eventually you'll be able to climb up from the bottom," he said.


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