For the dedicated two-wheeled warriors of the Wasatch, a state of the art indoor biking facility is just what the doctor ordered. After opening in September 2014, the Wasatch Indoor Bike Park has given mountain bikers and freestylers in the area the chance to come together year-round in a centralized hub for all their riding pleasures.
Owner and founder Spencer Randle is a longtime mountain biker who drew inspiration from a 2012 trip to the legendary Ray’s MTB bike park in Cleveland, a massive warehouse with lines and obstacles for everyone from XC riders to BMXers and dirt jumpers. One session was all it took to convince Randle that the idea could work back in his home state.
“I’d been reading about Ray’s online and in magazines for years and I finally got to the point where I said, ‘Let’s see what this is all about.’ So my wife and I cashed in some airline miles and went out there to ride—I was instantly hooked. I felt like a kid again. My first day, I must have stayed there for 12 hours. I immediately thought, ‘Utah needs something like this.’”
Two and a half years of hard work and meticulous planning later, the Wasatch Indoor Bike Park opened in September of 2014. With 27,000 square feet of space in three separate rooms, the park currently features a pump track area with multiple route options, a skills room where mountain bikers can practice on skinnies, ladders, and other obstacles, and a jump room with intermediate and advanced lines—as well as what’s become the park’s biggest draw: a massive airbag that lets riders attempt totally new tricks with minimal risk of injury.
The jump room was originally conceptualized as an XC skills area, but a rapid influx of dirt jumpers and BMXers to the park quickly convinced Randle otherwise. “We’d only been open a week and I’d had so many people say, ‘If you get a foam pit, I’ll buy a season pass’. I originally thought we wouldn’t have the space for it, but after hearing how excited people were about it, I decided ‘let’s just do it’”.
Similar in function to a foam pit, the park’s airbag is an upgrade in just about every way imaginable—it takes significantly less energy to climb out of, stays much cleaner, and won’t swallow your car keys or phone into what might as well be a bottomless cavern of sweat-scented foam blocks. Another recent addition to the jump area has been a resi ramp (a jump with a shock-absorbing landing to minimize consequences) so riders can take the next step from the airbag to actually riding away from their latest moves.
A rapidly expanding retail space near the front of the building stocks clothing and safety gear, as well as a curated collection of essential components—grips, chains, handlebars, and other stuff that’s likely to wear out or break during a long day of riding. Dirt-jump and BMX rental bikes from Scott and Haro are also available, in a variety of frame and wheel sizes to fit everyone from young kids to young-at-heart adults.
And considering the park was built for the express purpose of progressing riding skills, camps and clinics with private sessions and top-level instruction are also a natural fit for the facility. The upcoming summer-camp schedule will include both BMX and MTB sessions taught by pro riders, with the curriculum catered to each group and individual. The plan is to spend three days in the park and one day on a supervised field trip to apply the freshly learned skills—either at a local skatepark or dirt-jump spot, or on a guided trail ride.
Whether brand-new to biking or more experienced, the camps will cater to all ability levels, Randle says. “The first day we’ll go over park etiquette and safety and proper warm-up technique, and then we’ll have a skills assessment. Campers will be broken out by skills level, so those who already know how to pump and jump can work on specific tricks, and newer riders can learn to get in the air and improve their general skills. We’ll have games and prizes to hold kids’ attention spans, and they’re welcome to stay and session the park after camp lets out if they’re not too exhausted.”
The park has continually evolved and expanded since opening a little over six months ago, and Randle actively seeks input from regulars and first-timers alike. “The riders know what they want. I’m always asking for feedback—tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t like, tell me what could be tweaked a little bit. Feedback from all the riders has been a huge asset.” Other short-term expansion plans include an outdoor area with more ramps, like the halfpipe that’s currently under construction and a drop-in leading to a large quarterpipe and vert wall. Randle isn’t shy about his grandiose ideas: “We’re gonna grow inside, we’re gonna grow outside—I’m trying to turn this into a hub of biking for all of the Wasatch Front.”
And indeed, the benefits of a year-round indoor training facility are already manifesting themselves among riders of all types. Randle’s seen it firsthand: “We actually get a lot of racers in here on weekends training; getting some pumps in on the track and learning how to jump. One of our regular kids has started winning his first races—he’s the only one in his age group airing the doubles because he’s been in here jumping. It’s so fun to see that.”