Milwaukee April 2014

Okay, this wasn't really a trip to Milwaukee, but rather a trip to Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Milwaukee. I've been looking at Ray's web site, and videos made by different riders on YouTube, for months, hoping to be able to get here (or to their other location in Cleveland). With the season almost over (they close on April 27th) I just made it in time. I went on a weekday, because I figured the weekend would be crowded with people getting in their last-minute rides. Often, I had entire sections to myself, but most of the time there were a couple of riders in the same section.

I was on my own, Sandra and Christina didn't want to come, so I had to make sure I didn't get hurt. Of course, I went off the side of the stunt lines many times, but was always able to just put a foot down or jump off and land on my feet. They supply elbow/forearm and knee/shin pads for free, which is a great idea. I think I only used them once, on a surprise fall where I ended up cutting my finger and having to get a band-aid from the front desk. No big deal. I talked to a guy who had crashed on a jump and had scraped his forearm and cheekbone and bloodied them, but other than that I didn't see any bad falls or injuries. The guy at the front desk said that they only have an ambulance run about once a month, if that.

The Beginner Section

Yeah, I started out on the part shown at the left ... along with a Mom walking behind a padded-up 2-year old with training wheels! Seriously. But - I wanted to do EVERYTHING, so I looped it twice and considered that my warm-up. On to the beginner section. This was very easy, and they had lots of skinny exits only a few inches off of the concrete, so pretty much anybody could do this section. The rocks are just for decoration, I don't think any of these lines required you to go over them. Some of the boards were tilted at an angle, but you don't need to do anything different to ride over them - it just means that part of the side of your tire contacts the wood. I think I'll use this technique sometime - it might keep the inexperienced from trying something they shouldn't be on. Although, since this is indoors, they don't have to worry about wet and slippery conditions. Maybe it would be a good way to keep people off wet stunts? Knock them off down low to save them from falling off up high?

The Sport section

This section was full of interesting lines, including teeter-totters, steeper ramps, skinny logs, lines with rocks in them, and rock gardens. I was able to ride cleanly through almost every line, with some taking several tries, and surprised myself by riding some of the more difficult ones on the first try. The penalty for failure here was not too bad, except if you messed up waiting for a teeter-totter to drop - it was a long way down to the side. Some people just blasted right over them and didn't wait for them to drop down first. Most of the skinnier lines had other lines right beside them, so you could just step onto the line beside you if you went off the side - which of course happened a lot. The big rocks below left were actually very easy to ride, but looked intimidating. In the picture to the left, though, the rock garden was much more difficult to get through. Below center, you can see a snake-like line where your front tire tracked differently than your rear tire. I never did make it cleanly through the whole thing. Below right, you can see a hanging bridge. A cool idea, but you barely notice it when you go over it. I didn't get any pictures of the drop-in ramps or the teeter-totters, but you can see them at the top left of the picture to the left.

The Expert section

I didn't even know about this part until I told the guy at the front that I had done 90% of the Sport section. He directed me over to where the REAL challenge was. In this section, I could only do two or three lines cleanly. Many of them were too scary to even TRY! The big hamster wheel was closed, which was too bad, although I don't think I would have tried the two entry lines into it, one was skinny and high and the other had a big teeter-totter that intimidated me. One teeter-totter moved sideways as well as down, and one line had a moving platform on rails - hit your brakes on it and slide forward with the platform coming with you. I didn't complete either one cleanly.

Other stuff

The front desk area is shown below right, and you can see a bridge going over the top, where you can ride. There are two levels here, which they use to get speed up for some tabletop jumps - all of which are rollable. The metal construction below left is for the hamster wheel. I did ride the beginner jump area (below middle), but I didn't get much air. There were a couple of other areas where I did get a bit more air, but not much, I was playing it safe. To the left, you can see part of the expert jumps area. I was thinking about trying out one of their "dirt jump" bikes, but by the time I remembered, almost three hours in, I was pretty tired and it would have been a bad idea to try jumps in that condition on an unfamiliar bike.