The Great Indoors

Portland’s Lumberyard Bike Park invites you to play inside. Just don’t forget to wipe your tires at the door.

Photo courtesy The Lumberyard.

by Don Stefanovich

Indoor mountain biking seems like a bit of an oxymoron to say the least. From the most masochistic of mile-munching cross-country riders, to the least aerobic of adrenaline-addled gravity junkies, we all like to consider ourselves ‘outdoor’ types on some level. A great deal of the sport’s allure is the escape it provides: the sense of adventure, exploration, fresh air, dirt and, well, mountains.

But what happens when you take all that away?

At Bike’s offices in Southern California, we are spoiled with enough sunshine to ride across the calendar, so the concept of an indoor bike park seems a bit like an answer to a question that was never asked. But in Portland—where the weather can be more unpredictable than a Charlie Sheen monologue—The Lumberyard Bike Park recently opened 48,000 square-feet to those on two wheels.

“This is the first of its kind west of the Mississippi,” says Will Heiberg, Lumberyard co-founder and Northwest Trail Alliance vice president, in a press release. He is the driving force behind The Lumberyard, along with fellow Trail Alliance board member Michael Whitesel. Even though the concept was pioneered in 2004 by Ray’s MTB in Cleveland—later purchased by Trek, leading to a second Ray’s in Milwaukee—Heiberg and company are quick to point out a West-Coast exclusivity.

“Portland has an active bike culture, but there is nothing for the mountain biker close to town and few options to ride during the rainy season,” Heiberg goes on to say in the release. “We have been hearing demand for this from Vancouver, B.C. to Southern California—we aim to provide an exceptional riding experience whether it is part of your daily after-work ritual or a key stop on a west coast tour.”

Photo courtesy The Lumberyard.

Veteran park and trailbuilder, Joe Prisel, helmed the design to make the most of this bike park in a box. The currently open space is being referred to as ‘Phase One’ and contains what The Lumberyard describes as “beginner and intermediate features, including a pump track, cross-country style loop, technical trail riding” with berms, rollers and, of course, jump lines.

But, media liaison Holly Feiock-Heiberg tells me, it’s not meant as a substitute for the real thing. “It is a way to expand your potential on the trails,” Feiock-Heiberg says. “The Lumberyard focuses on technical riding in an environment where you can do it over and over again. It is an opportunity to improve your skills quickly so that you can take your trail riding to the next level.”

So just how rad can you get under one roof? Apparently not rad enough. ‘Phase Two’ is slated for July, and aims to add a 20,000-square-foot steel ‘barn’ with 40-foot ceilings that will house “advanced/expert features” said to include a “downhill trail with rock gardens, drops and step-downs” and—dirt jumpers rejoice—a foam pit and resi ramp. “We will be able to build some compelling climbs and descents that will be designed to push the rider and their equipment,” Heiberg tells me.

An official launch party will be held June 9 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. with pro-rider demos and after party, but The Lumberyard is already open for business. Admission runs about $25 on a weekday and $30 on a weekend with season and annual passes also available. Bikes, as well as helmets and pads, are available for rent because, of course, safety is a priority.

Did we mention Phase Two includes a bar?

Photo courtesy The Lumberyard.

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  • Tom A

    Don, I suggest you expand your thinking here. “Mountain biking” has expanded into many different forms these past 30 years. Think of indoor skateparks – does that seem odd to anyone nowadays? Besides providing a refuge from Portland weather, there are many reasons I’m psyched about this addition to our local riding options:

    - A great way to build skills and expand anyone’s riding repertoire. I’m seeing benefits in my trail riding as a result of my sessions there.

    -The LY is already developing into a great social hub, one where we meet friends and their families and enjoy the sport we are all so passionate about.

    - A great family spot where we can take our kids and introduce them to our sport in a format which allows them to build skills and confidence in a “controlled” environment”. I’ve had my daughter there several times and have seen her skills develop tremendously. She may just be hooked for life.

    - And last but not least, this is just a damn fun place to be, I invite you to come and give it a try!

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