By Matt Kasprzyk,
If you like to trade the mud and gray skies of winter for florescent lights and gray floors, then Pittsburgh can soon accommodate. The town totes plenty of all the aforementioned and plenty of vacant warehouses.
The Wheel Mill is the latest in a growing number of indoor bike parks across the country. The idea obviously isn’t original, and was conceived in a neighboring rust-belt city, but Pittsburgh’s own take on the two-wheeled indoor amusement park promises to be unique.
Harry Geyer, owner of The Wheel Mill, has been riding for decades. He grew up racing BMX and mountain bikes, but he’s also been building things for decades. While he’s been searching for property perfect for his dream, Harry’s day job as a contractor has helped prepare him with skills and contacts for this new endeavor.
Not only can he build and ride, but he also has a reclaimed lumber company. More than 80 percent of the wood used at The Wheel Mill is reclaimed. Some of it is from old skateparks and warehouses, or its been donated from individuals within the community. Even the more natural features have been donated. A lot of the rough-cut natural logs are from arborists working within the city limits.
Of course there will be the standard vert ramps, a pump track, rhythm rooms, and a foam pit. Those lines that will be great on a BMX or dirt jumper that we’ve come to expect from indoor parks, but the goal is to use the space and design courses from the ground up, thus introducing flow and natural obstacles. The idea being more time on your bike and less interruptions.
“We’re really trying to make this a reflection of the people riding in Pittsburgh,” said Geyer.
The place isn’t meant to be a copy of a copy. When asked what will be improved upon at The Wheel Mill, or done differently, “It’s more of how can we execute our vision without making the mistakes others have,” Geyer said.
So far the largest hurdle seems to be behind them. Zoning restrictions limited the possibilities of potential sites, but serendipitously the location is well positioned in the east-end of Pittsburgh and likely to be more accessible. Although it looks like a small army is needed to finish the building, late January 2013 has been set for opening. When it does, we’ll be there.
See more at www.thewheelmill.com,