Ahhhh, the great indoors; sitting on a comfy couch in front of a plasma flat screen, playing some cards, enjoying a nice dinner, and…mountain biking! Unlike road biking, mountain biking can be easily interrupted by seasons, inclement weather, and trail conditions. Rain one day will cause the trails to be muddy for a day or two after, resulting in several depressing, rideless days for the avid MTBer. Snow days are even worse. That’s why the future of mountain biking might be more artificial than expected.
There are currently 3 big timers in the industry: Cranx in New York, Ray’s in Ohio and Wisconsin, and Lumberyard Bike Park in Oregon. Ray’s in Ohio was the first indoor mountain bike park in the world. It was started over 10 years ago by a general contractor named…Ray. “Ray just liked to mountain bike to stay healthy, but he had nothing to do in winter. Then he got an idea to work on his biking skills in the middle of winter. Ray’s bike park was born. At first, in summer he would close the park and continue working construction. Now it’s open year round and people from all over the world come to ride in this indoor facility,” says Derek Slates, the general manager at Ray’s. Derek himself even took a road trip, hopped up on energy drinks and beef jerky, to ride at Ray’s when it first opened as a small riding facility. Now, their Cleveland, OH location is home to 130,000 sq. ft. of pure indoor mountain biking joy. Now all other prospective facilities come to Ray’s asking about their superb prototype. “We have a little experience compared to the rest out there.”
Ray’s has the whole operation down perfect. “There are trails for beginning cyclists and families with trails painted on the floor, then you can move all the way to XC loops and wood jumps for the pro riders. We even had Ricky Carmichael, the pro motocross rider, come and do jumps in our facility,” says Derek.
The other facilities have followed Ray’s lead in producing solid indoor parks. Cranx is a little smaller than Ray’s with a little over 90,000 sq. ft. of terrain. Cranx has a bike shop and loved getting hype from the pros. “This is my first time down here and it’s cool. There are a lot of people out cheering you on, you always hear the hoots and there are miles of jumps and track and different spots to explore. It’s pretty sweet,” says Aaron Chase of Team Redbull. The Lumberyard is another great facility that offers events, pass specials, and beer! Everybody is trying to put a little twist on business combos these days. Whatever new facilities show up in the future (I’m sure they will); let’s hope that they hold true to Ray’s motto; “Keep true to our roots. If it’s going to be done, it’s got to be done right!”