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Finale Ligure, Italy 2003 

This is the story of the Flydown Anaconda, the first wooden pumptrack ever built. There were wavy ramps built before this one but, to the best of my knowledge, this was the first time the “pumping motion” was used as the main source of propulsion, instead of peddling.Pumping gif

The Idea

In 2003 I was working on a project in Finale Ligure, Italy called the “Flydown Park.” It was the first “North Shore Style” bikepark in Europe. One of the key elements I wanted to implement was a ridable structure that encircled the entire perimeter of the park without touching the dirt.

The Challenge

Now, building a bunch of flat bridges around the edge of the park would have been an easy solution... but I wasn't looking for easy, I was looking for sensational! It needed to be a thrilling new experience for all skill levels, without being particularly challenging or intimidating.

The thrilling sensation I decided to attempt to capture was, that up and down feeling of weightlessness and compression... positive and negative G-Forces, like on a roller coaster. As a pro rider it was easy to experience that on a bike. Any jump, drop or steep section of trail would suffice... but what about riders who were not ready to handle those types of obstacles?

At the time, the trails were not smooth and flowy like the purpose built trails of today, in fact most were steep and bumpy. It was rare to experience the feeling of weightlessness without having your wheels leave the ground (airtime), or to feel compression without impact. Airtime and impact both tend to push beginners out of their comfort zone.

With that in mind I set out to create a structure that would enable riders of all skill levels to experience weightlessness and smooth compression in a controlled environment. The result was snake-like structure we named the “Anaconda.” With a bit of practice, you could ride the whole thing without pedalling or using your breaks… just pumping.

 

Over the last 15 years the construction materials have drastically improved with new technology and bigger budgets... but the geometry remains remarkably similar.