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At Home With Our Local Guides: José Jijon

Thomas Vanderham styling it up in Quito local mountain bike guide Ecuador.
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At Home With Our Local Guides: José Jijon, Quito

Early in 2019 we headed to Ecuador to revisit the amazing trails and we even got to sample our local mountain bike guide Ecuador José Jijon’s pump track.

Campo Bici Pump Track, Quito, Ecuador

Having been greeted at arrivals by the grinning face of José we loaded up and headed straight to his place on the outskirts of Quito, where if we were lucky, we’d make it just in time for the afternoon pump track session with the youngsters. Peering through the fence on arrival reveals the full extent of José’s backyard paradise. In between a sea of houses is a strip of green and brown, packed full of booters and berms. There are trees bearing limes, lemons, and avocados whilst a brood of chickens scratch at the turf, unfazed by the pack of friendly dogs trotting from person to person.

Perching on the start ramp we join the parents to watch the last coaching session of the young nippers who are set to be the next generation of Ecuador rippers. The story of the facilities and ethos behind the Campo Bici pump track is one that brings a smile to your face, and is sure to be leaving a positive legacy for the local riding community both on two wheels and in their day-to-day life. The dirt was sourced from the construction of a local road and, despite initially being turned away empty-handed, a little pestering and perseverance soon had truck load after truck load delivered right to their feet.

“We began to dig the pump track in December 2014. We brought in 80 loads of dirt in big trucks, they didn’t fit through the gates so we had to break the fence to get them in. After a month of thinking about what we were going to do with such a large amount of dirt, we did a bit of research and designing. Then together with a shaper and all the staff that still coach at the pump track, we developed it and dug it, and then we opened in the May of 2015.”

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Aside from the facilities, they’re helping the kids learn valuable life skills in a fun and appealing way, from healthy eating and growing their own veg, to aprés session stretching. Some of the parents have even noticed a massive difference in their kids’ behaviour at home with more confidence and awareness for others, even an increased willingness to help out with chores around the home. They’ve even up-cycled over twenty old and broken bikes for those not fortunate enough to have their own. It’s definitely a feel-good start to our first day in Ecuador as we lap until dark, followed by a few beers and bed before we would continue on with our trip at first light.

“Since opening we’ve been coaching kids, teenagers, and adults how to ride bikes and how to get stronger technically on bikes. We teach them how to become good riders, and to know more about mechanics and technique, and about physical condition. We want them to know how to eat well and become a good rider, no matter what discipline of cycling they go into.”

“We have a side project where we receive donations of any kind of bike, we rebuild them, we fix them, paint them, and make them nice. Then we go to rural communities and try to introduce the bike so that they can go to school on the bike, to work on the bike, or just to have fun and try a different sport, and just to ride bikes which is a very nice thing to do as a kid!”

“Our idea is to welcome any kids with whatever bike they’ve got, from the walk bike right through to a big bike, until they connect more with the sport and then they can buy another bike for the activity they want to do. A more precise bike, that is our idea. Any bike will work on the pump track.”

“We now have more and more riders coming, we have become more well known. It’s really nice for us to see that the riders are getting better, the most rewarding thing for us is when the mums or dads come to us and say, hey what did you do to my kid? Now he is working more, he is helping more at home, he is just talking more, he is less shy, he has more self-confidence… That is very nice to watch that process over time with the little kids.

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