Bikesmith owner Jim Steffen may have a hard time focusing on work these days.
Right outside his bike shop's back window is a new bicycle pump track, and Steffen admits that all he wants to do right now is ride it: "I'd never ridden a pump track before this one, and it's fun. I want to keep coming out on it. It might be tough working right next it."
Chances are lots of Memphis cyclists haven't ridden a pump track because, until Bikesmith opened their track behind the shop at 509 N. Hollywood, there wasn't one in the city.
A pump track is a small, looping trail system of dirt berms and mounds intended for mountain bikes, BMX bikes, or other cycles designed for rugged terrain. Bikesmith's 4,500-square-foot track features three 90-degree turns and three 180-degree turns built from packed dirt.
"It's called a pump track because you're not meant to pedal the whole time. Once you get going, you can get momentum as you pump the bike with your body," Steffen said.
Steffen opened Bikesmith in a converted automotive garage in the Broad Avenue Arts District last fall after first launching the business as a mobile bike repair pop-up in spring 2014. The mobile business is still operational, but now Bikesmith has a home base.
Bikesmith isn't your average bike repair shop though — there's a bar inside serving locally brewed craft beer, so customers can hang out and have beers while their bike gets repaired.
On days when the pump track is open, parents can knock back a couple beers on Bikesmith's patio while their child plays on the track. No drinking is allowed on the track though.
"If you're drinking, you're watching," Steffen said.
The track is open to all ages and all levels, but Steffen said it will likely be especially appealing to kids.
"Parents can feel comfortable with their kids here because it's fenced in, so they can't wander off and there's no traffic," Steffen said. "Even for adults on mountain bikes, they can feel safe from traffic while they build up their skills to get out on the street."
Riders will need to bring their own bikes. Bikesmith won't be renting bikes — at least for now — but Steffen said they do have a few pump bikes for sale at the shop.
The track won't be open every day since having it open requires having an employee outside "acting as sheriff." But it will be open on Tuesday nights from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $5 for Tuesdays and $10 to ride all day on Saturdays. Helmets are required, and users must sign a waiver before getting on the track.
Steffen said he hopes the pump track will inspire others across the city to build tracks. Currently, there's the BMX track at Shelby Farms and some trails and jumps at Stanky Creek, but Steffen would like to see more pump tracks, which tend to be more inclusive for riders of all skill levels.
"We've talked with pump track owners in other cities, and they say when one pops up, a trend starts and more pop up," Steffen said.