Our Turn: Cure the winter blues-Go ride a bike
With all the recent warm weather, our winter blues are melting away. The warm weather means biking is just around the corner for me.
Winter is pretty much a mountain biker’s nightmare. This usually means it’s time to transition from riding deep into the woods, flying down trails and hitting jumps to two hour sessions on a training bike in the basement. There are other outdoor activities to do during the winter, though, such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, but they just aren’t as fun as hitting the trails on my mountain bike.
I thought that I’d always be down in the dumps about winter, but then I found out about Ray’s MTB. I even wonder if the Rhinelander area could support a business like Ray’s MTB (mountainbike).
Ray’s MTB is an indoor mountain bike park in Milwaukee. Ray’s MTB is only open in the winter months. They want to provide a good riding environment for riders during the winter. Milwaukee is the second location for a Ray’s MTB to open; the first was opened in Cleveland in 2004. The Milwaukee location was opened in 2010.
Apparently, a few team riders from Trek visited the park in Cleveland. The team riders said how the place was great and wished that they would’ve built it closer to their headquarters so they could ride there more often. Trek is one of the most popular bicycle companies. Trek is based out of Waterloo. Trek contacted the owners of Ray’s and asked them if they would be interested in creating a partnership so they could build a park closer to Trek’s headquarters. The owners accepted the offer, split the costs and then built the second Ray’s MTB.
Milwaukee’s Ray’s MTB was made in an abandoned department store on North 76th Street. The building is about 105,000 square feet in size, and has two floors which can be ridden between. There is something for everyone to enjoy at Ray’s. There are features for all skills of riders and all types of riders. It doesn’t matter if you ride BMX or if you race cross country, there will be something for you to ride.
There is a cross country loop that goes around the entire building, with logs and rocks incorporated in it. There are four lines of jumps, a pump track and four sections of obstacles varying in difficulty, with features such as teeter totters, ladder bridges, rocks, logs, and more technical features such as the sliding bridge and elevator box in the expert section. Since every obstacle is different in difficulty, you are always learning something each time you visit; it’s also impossible to get bored. They also remodel the park every year so there is always something different to ride.
I’ve been to Ray’s three times since it opened. I’ve went twice this year and once last year. It seems like every time I go, I improve my riding skills. I couldn’t pick a few features of the park as my favorites; everything at Ray’s is fantastic. I think that if someone were to build something similar in the Northwoods area, it could definitely boost our local economy and give us bikers a way to develop our riding skills during the winter in a fun, safe and friendly environment.
If any area entrepreneurs are interested in opening up such a business around here, I’m available for consulting.