Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ray's MTB Indoor Park

The first stop on my MTB road trip was Cleveland, OH to check out Ray's MTB Indoor Park. Cleveland (like Boston) has long, crappy (if you're a mountain biker) winters, so why not ride inside? Trainers are no fun (IMHO), so how about riding inside and actually going someplace?

Ray's is in a warehouse. That's it. Nothing fancy, and not noticeable if you're not looking for it. Also not really noticeable if you are looking for it. It was a little hard to find because the sign was very unassuming. It's tucked away in an industrial park, along with construction companies and whatnot.

Inside the warehouse are a couple of fire-placed lounge areas, a bunch of picnic tables and a ton of fun/challenging stuff to ride. There's lots here for street/dirt jump/bmx bikes- plenty of opportunity to get air born. I can't really tell you anything about the park/street/jumps. That's not really my thing (I do kind of wish it was, but I'm a big wimp), so I stuck to the XC sections for the most part. There are clearly marked Beginner/Novice, Sport, and Expert areas. Within those areas the more difficult features (like drops) are really well marked. The beginner area starts out with a couple of routes combining berms, logs, and some (not too) skinnies that were pretty low to the ground. It was a nice place to spend a few minutes warming up.

I spent most of my time in the Sport section. Skinnier skinnies, some teeter totters, more natural features like rocks and logs. Challenging enough stuff to keep it interesting. I didn't get any pics of the Expert section, but you can imagine it looking a lot like the Sport, just higher off the ground.

I did a couple of laps around the place with my clipless pedals, but decided that platforms were going to be a lot safer. I always feel a little silly paying for bike parts I already have one (or two) of at home, but it was the only way I was going to feel comfortable enough to try more challenging stuff. Plus they look great.

Having platform pedals also made me realize how much I rely on being clipped in to get my back wheel up off the ground. Which is cheating. It was great practice to not be able to cheat.

They have a good little selection of stuff for sale like gloves, grips, helmets and pedals (for knuckleheads who don't bring them), but they're quick to point out they're not a bike shop.


This is why I'm dehydrated.

Overall, it was super fun, and much more of a work out than I was expecting. The staff- all dudes- was friendly and approachable. There were lots of dudes riding. Which is not surprising, since mountain biking is a dude (or bro) dominated sport. I did see a couple of other women riding, and one little girl totally ripping it up on a pink & white coaster brake bike. She was fearless and I kind of want to grow up to be her.

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