City's first pumptrack opens in West Philadelphia

KENN RYMDEKKO / FOR THE DAILY NEWS The city's first public pumptrack opened May 10 in West Philly. It's users are responsible for maintaining and cleaning the tracks.
KENN RYMDEKKO / FOR THE DAILY NEWS The city's first public pumptrack opened May 10 in West Philly. It's users are responsible for maintaining and cleaning the tracks.
Posted: May 25, 2014

LOCAL BIKE enthusiasts can now look toward West Philadelphia where the city's first ever pumptrack is now open to the public.

A what track? A pumptrack is a series of rolling mounds and berms where bikers of all ages and skill levels use momentum and pedaling to ride the course.

The Philly Pumptrack, which opened May 10 in the Parkside section at 53rd Street and Parkside Avenue, started off as a vision shared by three cyclists. It eventually expanded into action with the support of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, the Parkside Association of Philadelphia, local bike shops and bike advocacy groups such as the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia.

"The community was definitely an integral part of building a successful pumptrack," said Kenn Rymdekko, one of the founding bikers.

"There are so many kids that are local from Parkside and Wynnefield who want to be a part of this, so they'll put the sweat equity into it to help keep it looking nice," said Rymdekko of East Falls.

The pumptrack, which is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, has two courses: beginner and advanced. Everyone has to be able to ride the beginner course four times without pedaling before they can move on to the advanced track.

The pumptrack teaches cyclists riding skills while it builds fitness.

"It gives them a place to practice handling skills in a safe environment and not on the streets," Rymdekko said. "Riding the track helps work on a rider's core and upper body."

Parkside Association board president Lucinda Hudson says the track is a welcome addition.

"It has been a wonderful thing. It has brought the community together, political, business and city," Hudson said.

Rymdekko, his partner, Heidi Grunwald, and Harlan Prince were hanging around last year, talking pumptracks, Grunwald recalled. They had tried years before to get one built in the city, but the plans fell through, she said. Grunwald, a grant writer, then announced "give me a plan and I'll raise the money."

The trio took Grunwald's seven-page presentation to Ed Fagin, director of strategic engagement at Parks and Rec and he liked it - but only if they raised the funds.

Grunwald was able to secure two grants worth $5,000 each from People for Bikes and the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

The trio and Fagin met with the Parkside Association and the group thought "it was a magnificent idea," Hudson said.

In addition, SE Bikes and Fuji Bikes donated 19 bikes and 20 helmets. About $42,000 has been raised, and it has paid for the track, its design and other items.

Kevin Pritchett-Greene, 12, a seventh-grader at Mastery Charter Elementary School, has been a pumptrack regular since ground broke earlier this spring. He'll brush the track and pick up trash when he sees it, Kevin said.

"I helped a lot, and I worked out a lot, and I rode a lot, and that's how I got better and better and better," he said.


On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

Online: ph.ly/DNEducation

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