IF YOU'RE A RIDER AND LIVE ANYPLACE WHERE WEATHER – WINTER WEATHER IN PARTICULAR – CAN STOP YOU FROM TAKING TO THE TRAILS ON YOUR MOUNTAIN BIKE, AN INDOOR PARK MIGHT BECOME AN OBSESSION. IT DID FOR RAY PETRO, WHO BUILT THE WORLD'S FIRST INDOOR MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK. HE TALKED WITH DRIVE ABOUT IT.
"I rode a bike until I was 14 years old – just around the neighborhood," recounted Ray Petro. "Then I got sidetracked until I was 30, and I started riding a bike again.
"I fell in love with the sport of mountain biking. I rode my bike all that summer and into the fall of 1996. When winter came, I got really depressed. Nobody was riding, and the weather was terrible, and it was muddy. That's when the idea was born.
"I tried to make it happen a few times, and it just didn't. Then in summer of 2004, I found a land-owner who thought it was a really great idea. He said, 'I have the perfect place for you.'"
That place was a factory building in Cleveland, Ohio, where parachutes had been made during World War II.
Petro continued: "I started to monkey with it. I was always in the trades – a remodeling contractor, mainly residential stuff. I've had my tool belt on my whole life."
Today's park is completely different from what he built at first. "We're always changing things," said Petro. "When we figure out what the riders like, we build more of that, and we remove the stuff that's not their favorite.
"I oversee all of the construction, and I probably do about half of it. The other half is done by either paid employees of the park or younger guys who are in college. I'll trade them a season pass for hauling rocks and doing demolition and helping me build stuff."