A Maple Ridge pump track racer clinched second place at the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship Canadian qualifying event in Nanaimo this past weekend.
Karsen Tielen of Maple Ridge came second to Violet Cejalvo of Langley.
The second annual event took place at the Beban Park pump tracks, named in memory of late world champion downhill mountain bike racer Steve Smith.
Racers came as far away as San Francisco and the United Kingdom.
Competition was close in Tielen’s race, with Violet Cejalvo of Langley coming in first place with a time of 28.7 seconds, Tielen came in at 29.3 seconds, and Alaina Henderson of Encinitas, Calif. in third with a time of 29.5 seconds. Haley Stonnell of Victoria came fourth.
“Sometimes it’s by a tenth of a second, sometimes it’s by one hundredth of a second, it’s insane,” said Tielen about how close the race was.
Tielen has been on bikes since she was four years old.
“The only actual competing I’ve done is BMX racing when I little and pump track over the years,” said Tielen, adding that she started pump track only two to three years ago.
What Tielen finds most challenging about pump track, where you use the momentum of your bike and the force of your body to propel yourself over bumps in the track called rollers and rounding corners high onto berms, is that there are different sanctions of bikes.
“So you have your mountain bikers, your down-hillers, and they all have different strengths than, say, me as a BMXer does,” said Tielen.
“So they can do maybe better in the turns and the corners at the pump track, [while] I do better on the straightaways and the rollers,” she explained.
Tielen added that there is no pedaling in this sport and there is only one lane.
“It’s just all pumping, all using the rhythm of your bike.”
“Pump track is just you and the concrete and your bike and it’s just beating yourself, your last best time and then comparing it to the other times,” she said.
By comparison, a BMX track fits eight riders who race at the same time. Riders can cut off fellow racers and pass them. There are four straightaways, three berms, three corners and a finish line. Time does not matter, the winner is the person who crosses the finish line first.
Tielen trains by weightlifting in a gym about three or four times a week and sprints on her bike where she does ten strong pedals for about half an hour with a five minute rest in between.
Tielen competed last year in the inaugural event and came in second.
First place male and female riders receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the world championship final in Switzerland in October. However, the first four in each category also qualify.
Tielen competed in the worlds last year and although she didn’t make the podium she said it was a great experience. This year she can’t get the time off work to go.
What Tielen enjoys most about the sport is that it brings everyone together and it is not overly competitive.
For instance Tielen has trained with Cejalvo throughout her childhood.
“It’s still super fun, and the energy, everyone supports each other.”
First place in the men’s division was taken by Nanaimo’s Ben Leslie for the second straight year. Jacob Jewett of Squamish came in second, Mitch Landry came in third and Nate Berkheimer of Nanaimo came in fourth.