Interview: Martin Söderström is pumped about the Sweden qualifier
The Red Bull Pump Track World Championship series is back for another season with some new exciting stops, including one in Järvsö Sweden. It will be the first big Scandinavian competition of its kind and Freeride MTB icon Martin Söderström couldn’t be more pumped that one of his favourite disciplines is finally coming “home”.
With a brand new Velosolutions Pump Track, Järvsö Skills Park is excited to throw Scandinavia’s first major pump track competition on 25 August. The best thing about it? It’s a race format that suits everyone from beginner to pro.
“Pump track riding is ace! It’s not only great fun, it is one of the best ways to practice and perfect your bike skills. You can ride lap after lap and push yourself a little bit more over each roller, corner and jump. And the ride doesn’t end at the bottom of a hill. It ends when you’re done”, says Söderström, who has done his fair share of big international pump track competitions over the years.
Pump up your bike skills
For those new to the concept, a pump track is made up of rollers and corners that loop back on itself in a never-ending circle. You get around the track by pumping or jumping over the rollers and pushing through the corners to carry speed. No pedalling allowed. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a BMX racer, Downhiller or Slopestyle rider, the pumping technique is the foundation for every type of riding. It gets you practicing proper corner and jump techniques as well as keeping balance and carrying speed - all on a small area in a short amount of time”, Söderström explains.
It is safe to say that Martin Söderström knows what he is talking about. This past decade, he has been one of the best Slopestyle riders in the world, a two-time runner up in the FMB World Tour, winner of Crankworx Dual Speed N’ Style, and is known for his stylish and technical riding. He has also competed in the prestigious Crankworx Pump Track Challenge several times. Pump track is a discipline he admits to having little bit of a sweet spot for.
A race format for all levels
“I have done quite a few pump track races all over the world throughout my career, so I’m not going to miss the first big competition on home turf!”, Söderström excitedly exclaims. “I love the race format”. And while he will most probably be showing off his insane corner, manual and jump skills come race day in Järvsö, he also stresses that this is a sport for everyone - all ages, all disciplines, all levels. Everything is rollable so you can simply ride after your own ability.
“You might think that 4X riders have an advantage as they race on tracks with similar-looking features, but in my experience it doesn’t matter what discipline you do - everyone’s got a shot at the podium”, Söderström says and explains that you often find BMX racers next to 4X, Slopestyle and Downhill riders during international races. “In my mind the one thing that distinguishes a great pump track rider is that he or she is a very good allround biker”, he concludes.
Practice your pump track skills
So how do you get better at pump track riding? Well, according to the Freeride icon it’s all about practicing your basic skills. The faster you can take a corner, the more speed you will carry onto the next part of the track. “Learn how to carry your speed over the rollers and in the corners. Progress by trying to manual or double features up, as it is sometimes faster than just rolling. When it comes to strength and conditioning, I’ve found that it doesn’t matter what kind of rider you are, you will get exhausted anyway. Three laps around a pump track at max speed will make even the fittest XCO rider gasp for air”.
So if you are as excited as Martin Söderström about the Red Bull World Championship competition in Järvsö this summer, and want to start practicing as soon as possible, the Swedish MTB icon offers five fundamental tips:
1. Spend as much time on your bike as possible, mix it up and play around on it.
2. Use protection. Although pump tracks look smooth they can still get you injured.
3. Race against a friend. It prepares you for the actual race and you can push each other.
4. Plan your ride around the track. What features will you jump, pump and wheelie?
5. Have fun and bring your friends to the competition!
For your chance to take on the above challenge in Sweden on 25 August 2019