My mom used to ring a huge brass bell when it was time for my brother and I to return home from romping all over the neighborhood. On foot or on bike, when inside the invisible, audible bubble of the bell, we were on our own to explore. Adventure started the moment we stepped out the door and usually ended in the fading light of a summer’s evening with the sound of that bell.
For two-year-old Milo Porter, adventure also begins at home, although having a professional mountain biker for a father seems to have given him a slightly larger palette on which to compose his fantasies. This spring Eric Porter built a pump track in their yard, which will be followed shortly by a line of dirt jumps and eventually a mini skate ramp. Here, in the shadow of the Wasatch mountains near Midway, Utah, Milo takes great joy in showing dad how to shred when he’s not throwing rocks or removing both weeds and vegetables from the garden—it’s tough to know which is which when you’re two.
Eric has transformed his little slice of heaven into a mountain biking playground that can be replicated anywhere you’ve got a 40 x 20 foot plot of flat ground, no mountains required. By ditching the water-hogging, chemical-dousing insanity of a lawn in favor of the perfectly sculpted berms and rollers of a pump track, Eric not only earns uber fun Dad status, he earns green points with the planet as well. More importantly, he has planted the seed of adventure in the amazing mind of a two-year-old on a pushbike.
Pump tracks are basically a closed loop of berms and rollers that are designed to allow riders to continuously circle the track without any pedaling, using the pumping of the bike, much like pumping on a swing set, to generate forward momentum out of the turns and over the rollers.
Riding a track is fairly simple, but mastering pump tracks is an art form unto itself. In a 40 x 20 foot area it is possible to create a tool that is as entertaining for a toddler as it is for a veteran pro rider, allowing both to learn and polish skill sets that translate into the larger mountain biking experience, generate heart rates high enough to wear either of them out, and conjure up smiles and memories that will undoubtedly germinate larger scale adventures for decades to come.
For Milo, his backyard is the universe and that pump track might as well be the Slickrock of Moab or the 401 in Crested Butte. We don’t need to traipse all over the globe to find adventure, we just need to embrace the imagination of a child and walk out the door.
How did your adventure begin at home?
- Nat Geo Expeditions