Paving a pump track in Thailand
Claudio Caluori and Adrien Loron build a Velosolutions masterpiece in Aranyaprathet
Words by Claudio Caluori
When I got the email from Thailand asking about a Velosolutions Pump Track, I thought: How cool would it be if we could build an asphalt pump track in Asia! But really, I didn’t see the chances of this dream coming true to be very high. Five months and 120 emails later, Adrien Loron and I were on the plane to Thailand, en route to one of our most ambitious projects so far.
Knowing the difficulties of building an asphalt pump track even in Europe, we were quiet nervous about the heat combined with the hard work, and were also doubting if it was even possible within one month to build the largest pure pump track I’ve designed so far. Zurich was bigger, but it included a BMX track and a jump track. Will they have the right tools, machines and materials? Will they have enough motivated workers? Will we get the asphalt that we ordered?
Well, our boss calmed us down by taking us out for a whiskey right after we arrived in Aranyaprathet, next to the Cambodian border. And another one. And another one. Oh well, we had to finish that bottle. First morning on site, our main concern was not actually the construction, but just getting our heads straight again.
Soon we realized that this would be the pattern for every day for the whole month. Our livers were loving it. But we also soon realized that even though everthing seemed to be chilled (except for the weather), work seemed to run smooth. Easily and without any stress, we advanced faster than ever before. Adrian and I could not explain why we never seemed to get tired even though we didn’t sleep at night, or why everybody always seemed to be in a good mood: the Thai workers were happy working barefooted and we were never in a hurry. But somehow the pump track became reality quicker than we would have dared to dream.
If we needed couple of rakes, they welded 10 for us, if we needed a truck modified, they modified 2 of them. We couldn’t believe how easy they made things happen!
Still, I must say: I’ve never sweat so much in my entire life. Adrian and I sometimes had to step away from the asphalt for a couple of seconds, just to make sure not to pass out due to the heat before attacking it again.
Soon, we became addicted to the spicy Thai food that kept us sweating during breakfast, lunch and dinner, and last but not least, I had to escape from the ladyboys pretty much every night, so the sweating was going on 24/7.
You might be asking who we were building this huge pump track for. Who could actually afford a bike to ride it? In fact, I was wondering the same thing. There is a shanty town right next to the pump track, and it felt quiet awkward building such an expensive track next to it. But in fact, the kids from the shanty town were the first ones to take over the pump track and rode it all day long, on their trash bikes, with broken-off pedals, barefooted on the axle.
I asked the boss (who did not want to be named here) if he was going to leave this open and free for everybody, even when he builds a hotel next to it. He said yes, he will. This pump track is for the whole town. There is only one thing I can say. Thank you.