The founder of the indoor bike park coming to North Vancouver hopes to have the facility ready for operation in February 2023
Have you ever looked into a large empty space – something like an abandoned store – and dreamed of putting something unique and wonderful there?
A group from the North Shore is putting this meticulous plan into place in North Vancouver, confirming their plans to build Canada’s largest indoor mountain bike park inside the former Sears store on Capilano Mall.
Mike Upton, founder of West Coast Bike Parks Ltd.
“If you’re in North Vancouver, what else do you do?” He said while laughing. “This is ground zero for popular mountain biking – downhill, freestyle, cross-country – this is where it really all began. It is globally known as such, the place where mountain biking in its current form began.”
The project is largely a community effort, Upton said, adding that all the investors are from the North Shore, as are the terrain builders who will create the indoor park.
“A lot of the people still living on North Shore were original mountain biking and got it all, and some of them got involved. [in this project],” he said. “Some of the founders of what came to be known as downhill riding or freestyle riding … who make up a good percentage of the people involved.”
The initial design includes 65,000 square feet of indoor space in the basement of an old Sears store, with convenient bike access from the mall’s underground parking garage. Upton said they are doing a major renovation work on the space, tearing down all the walls and storage spaces to create an open concept garden.
“You’re not really going to feel like Sears anymore,” he said, “other than that you can see where the escalators are and you can still get to the mall and get to the food court.” The terrain will be designed for mountain bikes but will be drivable for BMX bikes as well.
“They are all wooden structures. It’s a lot of flow. “There’s a lot of jumping and pumping,” Upton said. “You’re inside, so you’re not riding on a hill. But there’s a hike, and there’s an opportunity to do some jumping, do a lot of flow and technique. It closely represents what you can ride on the North Shore Mountains, anywhere between here and Whistler. … There’s almost nothing as aggressive as, you know, trying to navigate the black tracks at Whistler Bike Park or even Fromme, it wouldn’t get that far, but it would be fun nonetheless for any rider with that skill.”
There are two similar bike parks in Canada, including 150- Nora In Markham and Ont. And the Plain Indoor Bike Park in Calgary, Alta, although both cater more to BMX riders, Upton said, adding that the closest comparison is likely a facility called Rise MTB Park in Ohio.
Endless Biking, a well-known North Shore company, will be involved in creating the park and will ensure the terrain is suitable for all levels, Upton said.
“There’s a lot of progress,” he said, “and we’re literally starting in preschool.” “We make sure that it is fully accessible to the youngest riders in our community. …This is really meant for the lower levels, for everything from preschool to what we would call an intermediate strong or maybe an advanced rider.”
There will also be regular programs offered, Upton said, including lessons, birthday parties, casual riding clubs, themed evenings, workshops, seminars and more. West Coast Bike Parks will also control the second floor of the old Sears building, and currently plans to provide it to Family Services North Shore for use in their programs. There will also be bikes and equipment for rent available on site.
In 2019, Capilano Mall managers said they are Planning to redevelop the 1960s-era mall. Upton said the bike park is meant to be a permanent, long-term project.
“We would like to be involved in everything that happens at this site in the future,” he said, adding that the goal is to be open for business in February 2023. Anyone looking for more information can email Info@NorthShoreBikePark.ca.
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