Happily, it seems that in recent years our society has come to realise the importance of exercise when regard to promoting health and well-being. In view of this growing...
From this summer, it will be possible to enjoy the thrills on Germany's most up-to-date pump track near Bamberg
By Robin Specht (RadQuartier.com)
The small community of Litzendorf led by its mayor, Wolfgang Möhrlein, had long had the desire to install a new leisure attraction. Over months and years, various proposals had been considered, ideas had been processed in workshops, various skatepark concepts reviewed and various sites for the new facility had been proposed. But none of the projects that had emerged were enticing enough to win over the local council and young people and persuade them to part with their cash. When Franz Bezold, the new youth welfare officer, assumed his duties in the winter of 2018, he would bring a resolution to this apparently insoluble problem by standing everything on its head. Bezold, who was 25 years of age and worked part time as a fitness trainer, looked at the dead-end situation, the aims of the project and the wishes of the local young people more closely. It soon became clear to him that Litzendorf needed something new, different and unique - otherwise there was no satisfactory way around the problem.
As so often in life, it was the first thing that came to mind and the gut instinct that would prove to be the answer. Bezold, an enthusiastic mountain biker, remembered that near Selb in Upper Franconia, Bavaria's largest pump track had been opened just a few months previously and had proved so popular with young and older visitors from all over Germany that this public, municipally owned facility had become practically overrun. And that is how the notion for a pump track for Litzendorf came suddenly into being. No time was wasted getting into contact with the business RadQuartier that is not only responsible for running Germany's largest facility for new sports activities in Kirchenlamitz in the Fichtel Mountains but also planned, constructed and launched the facility in Selb and is considered to be the specialist when it comes to the design and implementation of pump tracks. Just a few days later in early December, mayor Wolfgang Möhrlein, Günther Rahm and RadQuartier founder and CEO Robin Specht sat down for initial discussions in the town hall and youth welfare officer Franz Bezold presented his proposals and the other participants came to hear the words 'pump track' for the first time. But the idea of having an attraction of this kind for the community paired with the impressive images of the facility in Selb and the fervour with which Bezold pressed his case soon persuaded everyone that this was the way forward and that the possibilities for implementation should be reviewed.
Potential sites were inspected on the very same day and an outline concept given to the RadQuartier team.
The first plans and concept with a cost estimate were submitted to the local council prior to Christmas last year. A largely unused and rundown asphalted area that had been employed years previously as an ice stock rink and basketball court was to be transformed into a family-friendly, state-of-the-art leisure exercise facility in the form of an asphalted pump track. The 3D draft designs prepared specifically for the site and the former professional mountain biker Robin Specht were enough to convince the council after just a few minutes so that they unanimously approved further progress with the project. During the subsequent workshop with young people, the future users and other interested parties were provided with information, encouraged to provide input and asked to contribute their wishes and ideas for the local attraction.
But it was not just the circle of those involved and the encouragement for the new project that the 6074 residents of the local community had so long looked forward to that would grow; the plans and ideas took on such a perfectly coordinated and ideal form that the government of Upper Franconia began to sit up and become aware of the potential relevance of such a lighthouse project; it committed to providing 80% of the financing from its town planning budget. In the next council meeting in January of this year, the final plans for the new facility adjacent to an existing football pitch and tennis court were presented and an invitation to tender was issued.
The innovative attraction with its rollers, curves, features and mountain bike-orientated obstacles extends to nearly 1000 m2 and can be used for more than 15 different forms of wheeled sport, by young and old, beginners and experts on this versatile pump track.
The pumping required by users that gives this kind of facility its name requires them to generate momentum by up and down body movements rather than by pedalling or other push-start techniques so that they thus travel around the endless loop of the course. The track has been surfaced with special asphalt so that it can also be used by skateboarders, inline skaters, scooter users, BMXers, longboarders and riders of all kinds of cycles and mountain bikes and even wheelchair users (WCMX athletes). But the project head and his team of sports scientists, architects, specialist planners and professional athletes also had something special up their sleeves. In addition to the large main track with its various lines, trails and variations, an attraction was to be provided to encourage young users and a 100 m2 kids and cycle trail was incorporated in the facility. This ensures that children can begin training their coordination and motor skills at an early age and learn how to avoid accidents and enjoy exercise, thus making the facility a site that brings together people and families. Despite the asphalt surface, considerable emphasis was placed on retaining a natural ambience. As a consequence, a jumpline section for mountain bike/BMX users made from special soil was incorporated in the pump track that can also be used as a circuit trail in combination with the pump track. This modern landscape is offset by trees and newly planted green sections outside and within the facility. But the icing on the cake is undoubtedly represented by the floodlighting and the circuit counting sensors buried invisibly in the asphalt with their digital display.
Following the award of the contract to RadQuartier and additions to the plans, implementation of the project continued at the same rapid pace in spring. Work on the decrepit sports facility and removal of the old asphalt surfacing began in early April. Shortly after this, the excavators arrived to form the several hundred tonnes of mineral mixture into a circular track. In just a few weeks, the trail builders and pump track designers had converted a site that had been neglected by the locals up to then into a new talking point. Day by day and particularly in line with the conclusions of the young persons' workshop, the new hilly landscape behind the hoarding began to take shape until the track surfacing consisting of tonnes of asphalt at a temperature of 185°C was delivered. With deft manual skills, the nationwide team managed to convert the building site into a pump track in just a few days.
The other features, such as the floodlighting system, the planted areas, the induction loop system and the signage, were soon put in place, meaning the work was completed in only 6 weeks by the end of April.
However, as Litzendorf local council still needs to complete other work covered by the total budget package of €300,000, such as the unsealing and construction of a road directly adjacent to the pump track, the facility will not be officially opened to the public before the summer of this year.
But a little foretaste of what is to come was given to the young people and athletes who attended the workshop who, under the supervision of the professional athletes of RadQuartier, were able to try out the track on a Sunday in May. Sadly, other potential users will have to wait until the TÜV has approved the facility and for the official opening ceremony that is to be held at 2.00 pm on 14 July. From mid-July, Germany's most up-to-date pump track will be available for use; the concealed circuit counting system and displays will be activated, the floodlights switched on and the first official circuits will be ridden during the opening event by sportspeople originating from throughout Germany.
Images: Robin Specht (RadQuartier .com)