What goes into building a pump track? No better people to answer that question than Velosolutions own Claudio Caluori (SUI) and Tim Smit (NED). In this interview they'll take you through the process that will send you straight to your city council to demand one for your own scene. Read on.
Where did you grow up and how did you get into biking? CLAUDIO CALUORI: I grew up in Zurich, Switzerland and got into mountain biking when I was training as a hockey player in Kloten. TIM SMIT: I was born close to Rotterdam and was always trying out different sports. I cycled 30 km to and from school and loved going as fast as possible. My first time on a mountain bike was in the Ardennes and I have loved it since.
How did you get into the pump track business? CLAUDIO CALUORI: Velosolutions started as a trail building company. We were led to pump tracks by the Universe and were the first ones to then build one from concrete and later on, the first ones to build them with asphalt, which initiated the world wide pump track boom. TIM SMIT: I had started a mountain bike training company and after a while we started to build some dirt PumpTracks. Back then pump tracks didn’t really exist outside of the bikeparks. We completely fell in love with the whole concept of pump tracks as a way to inspire kids to go outside and have fun, and we figured that every city would benefit from having one.
Shop name: Back Bone BMX Location: Belconnen, Canberra, Australia Years in business: 2021 is our 16th year! Best year yet: Every year is a good year Worst year yet: Last year was difficult and the most challenging, but I don’t know if we’ve had a ‘worst year’. We’ve had some tough years, but we don’t want to get stuck thinking about them too much.
What were your first thoughts on Covid-19 when it hit? Tyson Jones-Peni: COVID had been kicking around internationally, but we were always optimistic, and probably pretty naïve. We ran a local competition on March 22nd, which was meant to be the first event of a year full of events. We took all of the necessary COVID precautions and thought the event was a success – but literally, that night, the Prime Minister of Australia addressed the country and announced that lockdown would take place that very next day.
Shop name: The Secret BMX Shop Location: Murrieta, California (USA) Years in business: 11 Best year yet: 2010 and 2020 Worst year yet: I don't think we've ever had a bad year, but 2020 definitely spawned the most grey hairs.
For a while it looked like the USA wasn't taking Covid too seriously, what's the status now? Bryan Babbel: On a national level, it seems the media is still pumping a lot of fear into the population, but on a local level, it is very clear that most people aren't buying into the hype anymore and are ready to take their chances and move on with life. You wouldn't believe how grateful new customers are when they come in and realize we never have (and never will) require them to wear a mask. And our repeat customers love coming in knowing they can shop and breathe comfortably.
Did you take any action from the start with your shop or were you thinking this would be over in a few weeks? Bryan Babbel: As with many bike shops that chose not to shut down and/or limit themselves, we got crushed with an overwhelming amount of business immediately following the lockdown orders.
Shop name: RampFest Indoor Skate Park Location: Melbourne, Australia Years in business: 12 Best year yet: 2019 / 2020 Worst year yet: 2014. This really depends on how you measure - 2020 was crazy, but when we were open, business was really good. End of 19 / start of 2020 was our best period for visitors. 2021 should be the best yet, it’s started well.
What were your first thoughts on Covid-19 when it hit?
Shop name: People’s Store Location: Cologne, Germany Years in business: Since 2006 > 14 years Best year yet: 2008 Worst year yet: 2017-2018
2020 has been, well, different. When did Covid-19 turn up and start influencing your business? Harry Schmid: COVID really started effecting things when it arrived in mainland Europe around March of 2020. That’s when we first started seeing it effect things.
Shop name: 360 Grad Sportshop Location: Lohhof/Munich/Germany Years in business: This year is our 30th year in business. Funny thing is, that it feels like yesterday when I started this venture. The shops keeps me young, kinda…. Best year yet: 2014, but 2020 was a really good year too. Worst year yet: Not considering the first years where you hardly earn any money at all, 2018 was a tough one.
2020 has been, well, different. When did Covid-19 turn up and start influencing your business? Thomas Stellwag: First Lockdown in Germany went down in March 2020. This lasted till May 2020. It was definitely a hard time, but a lot of our customers showed their loyality and support by ordering online. In June and July we opened again and sold more BMX bikes than ever.
Did you take any action from the start or were you thinking this would be over in a few weeks? Thomas Stellwag: For some reaosons I never believed this would be over soon. So we tried to make our shop as safe as possible. We bought masks, sanitizer and a sneeze guard for our counter. We only let in three customers at once so there was enough disctance for everyone.