Video: Tommy Zula Is On A Mission To Win Back the Pump Track World Champs Stripes

Nov 23, 2021
by Blake Cherubini  

It’s no secret that former UCI Red Bull Pump Track World Champion Tommy Zula is a force to be reckoned with on a Velosolutions pump track. Left on a high from winning in 2019, through a gap year due to the pandemic, he was ready to defend his stripes in 2021.

bigquotesWinning my first rainbow jersey was a dream come true. I was on top of the world. Years of hard work and dedication paying off more than I ever could have dreamed. But something I soon came to realize was the target that was put on my back.Tommy Zula

2021 UCI Red Bull Pump Track World Champs took place in Lisbon, Portugal. The stoke was high and the times were tight. After some intense competition, Tommy was unfortunately not able to return home with the winners jersey…

bigquotesI learned a lot from winning, but I learned more about myself after losing the stripes in Lisbon. It was like I had my edge back, something to prove again to myself, my family that sacrificed everything to be where I’m at, and my hometown sponsor who has believed in me since day 1. The real TZ will be back and ready to show the world what is possible on a pump track in 2022!Tommy Zula

With some help from Velosolutions, Tommy finally has a pump track of his own in his hometown of Dayton, OH as well as another not too far away in Portsmouth, OH (pictured below).


With new places to train and more motivation than ever, Tommy spends his days on his bike gearing up to reclaim his stripes in 2022!

Early morning fog in Portsmouth, Ohio (pictured above)

Video & photos by: Blake Cherubini
Written by: Blake Cherubini
IG: https://www.instagram.com/blake_cherubini/


49 Comments

  • 11 2
 Tommy is a stud on a pump track. Also, seems like a super nice guy from my brief conversations with him at the Gaston County qualifier this past spring (as was the rest of the DK/Airborne squad that was there). He’s a real problem for other riders, because he can put together some clean, super fast runs, even when the pressure is at its highest.

His big hurdle moving forward is that the level of competition is rising to meet him. At that first US qualifier, there was roughly a half-dozen competitors who all ended up making it to the world championships in Lisbon. TZ, Colin Hudson, Alec Bob, Brady Kincheloe (sp?), Amakai (sp and also not sure of his last name), and I’m sure I’m leaving someone out. That’s not counting Barry Nobles, who has finished 2nd at that qualifier 2 years in a row but has elected to not take the trip to the world championships. It’s going to be really interesting watching the qualifying races going forward, as the level of competition continues to rise.

Best of luck to Tommy Z, and I look forward to watching him race next season. The pump track race scene is HOT.

Also, good luck to Payton Ridenour, the women’s defending champ who also came home without the rainbow jersey. Payton is a fantastic young lady, Olympian, and speed demon worth watching in both BMX and pump track races.
  • 4 0
 Tommy seems like a super nice guy. Talked to him a few times. Cole Suetos is another (14th @ Worlds this year) that should be on your list, he's a super humble, incredibly fast 20yo who's only going to get faster.

This years track favored 20" pretty heavily (only four 26" made the finals), hoping future courses are a more even playing field. Pumptrack is rad. Great exercise, great for kids or adults. Tracks have a small footprint & are heavily used, hope to see more cities making them. Really excited to watch the sport grow.
  • 3 1
 @VersusTires: Smooth tracks will always favour 20" as they're faster and more responsive. I'm not sure what tracks that are asphalt would favour bigger wheels.

In addition, 20" riders are BMX riders who practice pumping more than MTB. It's not just the wheelsize.
  • 4 0
 Got to say, the 2021 winners were pretty amazing and I think their wins were well deserved. The defending champs were great too so basically, it is an amazing and hotly contested format. And the beauty is, pretty much anyone can qualify for the event and anyone can get access to these "training facilities". What more do you want?
  • 1 0
 @DarrellW: they mentioned a few times that the transitions favored the smaller wheels on this course, 75% of the riders in the final 16 were on 20" bikes (although I think one had 22").

Smaller wheels get up to speed faster but bigger wheels can roll faster once they get going. The smaller bikes seemed to be working a lot more to get their speed vs the bigger wheeled bikes. Hope they find a happy medium that works for both riders.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: Totally agree. The racing is so competitive and so fun to watch. Eddy Clerte is a monster on the track.
  • 1 0
 @VersusTires: Yeah, Niels Bensink was on 22". I think he could have done better (finished 4th) but suffered cramp so could just manage to ride a final lap but that was it.

@ObviousAlias : Yeah, it is both competitive yet also inviting. If you've got a bike, even if it doesn't have a working drivetrain, you can give it a shot. Obviously the finals only has the super skilled racers but the qualifiers are open for everyone. I love that format. A true participation sport.
  • 2 0
 @DarrellW: smaller wheels will be faster to accelerate, while bigger wheels will hold its momentum better. Tracks with shorter straightaways, shorter distance between transitions, peaky rollers, tighter and more number of turns will favor the smaller wheels.

On the flip side, bigger wheels will be faster (or at least have less drawbacks) on tracks with longer straightaways, smoother rollers, bigger and less number of turns etc.
  • 6 0
 It's super cool that the Midwest is embracing these pump tracks. I hope Velosolutions plops a pumptrack/skills park down in the North East.
  • 3 1
 The pumptrack scene is pretty thriving in the northeast, maybe not at the pro level, but they're popping up all over the place here in SE PA.
  • 8 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: Actually, I think the beauty is that everyone can ride these tracks. Every pro starts as an amateur. And every little bit of experience and skill people develop on these tracks is a win, no matter what they choose ride as a "main sport".
  • 2 0
 I ride the one in Boston 2 times a weel
  • 1 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: Where are all of these SE PA Pumptracks? I know of Emmaus(paved luckily), then Philly and Doylestown which are both dirt and closed a lot due to various reasons.

What others am I missing that I could be riding?
  • 1 0
 @Bmxvr6: What he said!
  • 2 0
 @Bmxvr6: You know the website pumptrack.com? It is not extensive, but if people know a track they can add it. You can also find information about what kind of surface it has, whether it is free or not etc. Sadly I can't find pumptracks on Trailforks. Makes sense as technically they may not count as a trail but you'd say mountainbikers looking for trails in a certain area might want to consider hitting the pumptrack there too if they know it is near. But probably pumptrack.com will probably help you out.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: I am aware of that site and it lists almost nothing in the SE PA area which is why I was asking @withdignityifnotalacrity for some insights.
  • 2 0
 @Bmxvr6: The Philly one is mostly paved actually, and had good availability this year until some jackasses broke in and stole their loaner bikes.

There's a semi-secret spot in Delaware Co that is verbotten to mention online. I think there's one next to core creek: www.mtbproject.com/trail/7026270/maple-high-school-pump-track

And another I haven't been to is the High Bridge pump track and flow trails, but I hear good things:
jorba.org/parks/commons-on-the-wye

Anyhoo, hope that's enough to get you going Smile
  • 1 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: Thanks for the reply but you haven't shown anything that isn't already known or just part of a MTB trail system or set of BMX trails in Delco.

Was just hoping you knew of something I didn't, oh well.
  • 3 0
 @Bmxvr6: that's all I got homie.
  • 2 1
 It sucks that towns are using pumptracks as a replacement for dirt jumps. Way less progression with a pumptrack, get outgrown and boring so quick.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: have you checked under "skill park"? If there is a pumptrack that I'd like to add in my region, I will add it under that category.
  • 6 0
 Most fun cardio workout EVER!
  • 4 0
 Does Velosolutions have an exclusive contract with the UCI pump track series? Seems more like an advertisement for them than an event to attract the world's best.
  • 1 0
 yep but they are also promoting the sport this way. Would be nice to see those world championship hitting some other tracks, you should check the work of CK Contractors in the UK. Their track look more fun and creative
  • 7 2
 Get a BMX race bike and get back in the squat rack.
  • 6 1
 Why doesn't he compete on a 20"? He's got the background.
  • 8 0
 Same question. Maybe we could see a PB pumptrack test, which wheelsize is fastest. 20 just seems like such an advantage. Also, would love to see an article with recommended steps on how to get a pumptrack built in your home town!
  • 3 0
 @mobiller: sponsorship maybe? Or perhaps he has become more accustomed to 26" due to other riding.
  • 4 0
 He's gonna need to take on Corey Walsh at Gillies Creek RVA if he wants to be the real pump track world champion
  • 3 0
 Well done Blake! Quality article Big Grin
  • 2 0
 Thank you!!
  • 1 0
 Really great work! Very impressed. Especially since I did not think you guys knew how to read or write Wink
Go get it Tommy!

-NBAG
  • 2 0
 Does a pumptrack world championship pay the bills? Or would this guy also have to work a 9-5?
  • 2 0
 Sick video! Nice work to all involved!
  • 3 0
 Thanks bro!
  • 5 3
 Something something... BMX background... something something....
  • 2 0
 Great video, well done boys!
  • 2 0
 Thanks bud!!
  • 2 0
 he will be back. GO for IT
  • 2 0
 Great video, get it done Tommy!
  • 1 0
 Why was the Redbull in the freezer not frozen?
  • 1 0
 Because it was in the fridge not the freezer
  • 1 0
 solutions with higher concentration of solutes will have lower freezing points.
  • 1 0
 hi blake
  • 1 0
 hi Ajay
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