Ray’s Mountain Bike Park Inside Out

It was a little hard to get my eyes to focus the day after Halloween and to get my brain motivated to move. After some fluids and coffee I picked up Karl and our new graphic designer Matt Kasprzyk in the Dirt Rag van, got some more coffee, and headed toward Cleveland to Ray’s MTB Park fot the Inside Out Race sponsored by Red Bull.

Pulling into the parking lot I got my first look at the ramps and obstacles and knew this was going to be an amazing event. Then I got a look at Captain America’s ass, as a rider sporting the remnants of an ass-less Halloween costume launched off a ramp in front of me. (Wish I would of thought of that one.) We set the booth up just in time as the first riders began their qualifying runs that began outdoors and two-stories above the parking lot on the warehouse roof. The VIP elevator, or forklift as it’s commonly known, got the riders within 2′ of the rooftop where they had to take a final step to the starting line.

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One at a time, riders rolled down a ramp built on the roof, tripped a laser timing device and began free falling to a transition that sped them across the pavement. Hitting a launch that popped them 20′ into the air they landed in a series of rollers built on scaffolding. Dropping from the last roller to the pavement then pedaling up a makeshift ramp onto the roof of a rickety condemned building, dropping off the opposite side and wall riding a piece of plywood leaning against a brick wall to make a U-turn, riders hit the next jump to sail over a shinny blue Subaru.

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Launching another kicker to land on the loading dock of Ray’s, riders were now inside the park and quickly jumped over the SRAM pool table, pedaled fast through the lounge and jumped a 3′ wall into the expert rhythm section. More ramps, rollers, table tops and wall-rides led to some creative line improvising that finished at the end of the sport rhythm section. Tripping another laser beam, times in the 1 minute 20-30 seconds were being turned as the group was slimmed down for round two.

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While the riders took a break, the crowd was devouring free Dominoes Pizza and cans of PBR and Red Bull. I was still feeling dehydrated from the Halloween parties and opted to buy an electrolyte drink from Ray’s concession stand. When round two began, the times turned became shorter and riders pushed the limits to win stacks of cash wrapped in clear plastic. Brian Lopes turned the fastest time of 1 minute 15 seconds with Chris Herndon placing second. Vance Nonno, Neko Mulally and Kyle Ebbett rounded out the top five.

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It was great to see local, regional, and pro riders compete head-to-head in a fun and approachable atmosphere. Plenty of non-riding spectators showed up, which will hopefully convert a few into riders. The rain held off, the temperature stayed at a nice mid-sixty, and after the cash was handed out to the winners, Ray’s MTB Park was fair game for everyone. I packed away the camera (click here for my complete photo gallery) and finally got to ride the new and improved pump track and cross country loop after being teased 3 months ago when I saw it all under construction. (See Dirt Rag #139 for a description of what has been improved upon this season at Ray’s.) Fun, flowing lines, high-banked corners, and considerate riders made for a great event and a cool riding experience afterward.

The weekend of January 24, 2009 will feature the TriFlow Indoor Team Championships at Ray’s MTB Park. Stay tuned for coverage on that event, or better yet, go to Ray’s yourself, be a spectator, cheer, and ride the ramps and obstacles with us.

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