I have ridden many of the “cream your pants” spots in my lifetime. I have ridden the smooth red rock canyons of Moab, Utah. I have sailed through the wide open fields on the sandy singletrack that stretches through miles of wilderness in Sun Valley, Idaho. I have dropped off wooden stunts and ridden log rides 6 inches wide suspended 20 feet in the air through the big old growth forests of Vancouver, British Columbia. I have raced through the trees, sliding down chutes of slate and shale at Plattekill in Roxbury, New York. I have ridden the 15 foot deep concrete bowls that lead into the full pipe in the Louisville skate park, I have made it to the famous skate park under a bridge in downtown Portland, Oregon otherwise known as Burnside. FDR park located under a bridge in Philadelphia has seen my tire tracks as well. I have ridden down a long snaky, narrow trail while over looking the Golden Gate Bridge. I have ridden the narrow alleyways of the old city in Jerusalem. I even got to be chased by the cops for jumping on some ledges in the French Quarter last May before the city met its demise.
I love to ride, I love to ride new and interesting places, for this reason my bikes are regularly attached to my Yakima rack adorning the roof of my Subaru like a mezuzah adorns a door post. When I have to go somewhere, whether for work, a shidduch date, a wedding, bar mitzvah what have you, I bring my bikes- it’s a must in my world- kind of like people who are attached to their pets, I am attached to my bikes. This weekend I had to be in Cleveland for a wedding- guess what I did?
Cleveland is home of Rays Indoor Mountain Bike Park. Simply put someone got the bright idea to make a huge skate park devoted to mountain bikes. HUGE – most parks are 20-30,000 square feet- this one is almost 100,000 square feet. A Wal Mart sized Warehouse of north shore riding, jump tracks, xc course, trials course, and an amazing flowy skate park. The best part about it, is the fact there are beginner, sport ad expert sections- making sure everyone stays within their own abilities. There is nothing worse then a bunch of little kids who cant ride taking up all the room in front of a huge jump. Further more unlike normal skate parks, Rays has loops around the outer ends of the park. This means you can ride jumps without running into someone else lining up a rail or something. Another rather interesting thing to note is the amount of demo bikes available for use. They have free for use within the park a number of different bike setups including strictly park bikes, and 20 inch bikes.
My riding style has vastly changed since a few years ago, maybe is old age maybe its fear or loss of balls, but whatever it may be I am not as good as I once was. I also ride a different bike- I used to ride a Santa Cruz Bullit- then sold my soul and bought a Jamis Trailbike with 5 inches front and rear suspension and clipless pedals. I still retained through all this time my trusty Trek Bruiser which I ride mostly street and some skate park with- no, I was never fond of dirt jumping. Back in the day I could launch myself off of large stair gaps and 12 foot roofs- now I prefer to practice 360s and x-up stalls. Yes I like the more technical less likely to kill yourself option.
Riding here was like riding the whistler bike park indoors on flat ground- with a skate park thrown in, and tons of friendly riders helping you out with tricks and tips. Upon entering the park I almost had an orgasm it was unlike any park I had ever seen. All mountain bikers- no bmxers giving me dirty looks, great vibes man. I paid my 18 bucks for the day and walked in to view it up close, spittle was running down my chin as my draw dropped open looking at the madness. All of the sudden I heard someone screaming “JEWISH STEVE” really loudly. My buddy Alex who I hadn’t seen in probably 6 months due to the fact he has no phone and lives in Rochester- and I had heard he smacked into a brick wall- was very happy to see a familiar face. He was on a specialized P-2 built up for park with 24 inch wheels and single speed. He said he was recovering from hitting his head on one of those low parking garage beams as he manualed down the ramp. So in Rochester I was known also as the Flying Heeb. Yes derogatory it is but I liked it- though one time a whole fight ensued because one of the dudes I was riding with got offended and this dude known simply as Dorky Steve- started screaming at the dude who got offended and everyone started yelling at each other in the name of political correctness.
Anyway I rode for 4 hours until I had to call it quits due to my wedding attendance. It was one of the more enjoyable rides I had done in a long time. Comparing is impossible- but lets just say the reviews it has gotten from many mountain bike publications were absolutely dead on.
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