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Indoor Bike Park replaces long vacant bowling alley


The Lumberyard, a 60,000 sq. foot indoor bicycle park, opened last month in the the log vacant bowling alley on 82nd Avenue across the street from Madison High School.
Mid-county Memo photos/Tim Curran
John Vergis, a long time mountain bike racer, who goes by the sobriquet “Johnny V”, grew up in the neighborhood and was one of the first to purchase an annual pass to the Lumberyard.
A long-neglected section of Northeast 82nd Avenue is about to get a little love and the neighbors could not be happier.

The Lumberyard, an indoor bicycle park modeled after two successful parks in the mid-west, opened last month in the old bowling alley across the street from Madison High School. The Lumberyard includes 60,000 square feet of rideable space, geared toward BMX and mountain bike riders of all ages and abilities.

The building will also house a café, bar, and community meeting space.

Paul Mooring, president of the nearby Roseway Neighborhood Association, is optimistic about the new development. “I think it's a great idea. That part of 82nd between the high school and Fremont is blighted. We're excited about the fact that it's not another liquor store or strip club,” he said.

A few months ago, Dave Smith, chair of the Madison South Neighborhood Association, stopped by to help with demolition work on the Lumberyard and got to know some of the folks involved.

“From the people I met while pulling nails, they seem to be a pretty decent group of professionals,” Smith said. “In my estimation, it's a positive move. They are not invading the neighborhood; they are becoming part of the community. We could do a lot worse.”

Lumberyard founders Will Heiberg and Michael Whitesel are both long-time cyclists who sit on the board of the Northwest Trail Alliance, a local group dedicated to building and maintaining off-road biking trails. They recognized a niche begging to be filled.

Working with promoter Matthew Mangus of mangai.rollin, Heiberg and Whitesel searched for a suitable space for the bike park for over a year. At first, they rejected the vacant AMF bowling alley as too small, but after discovering how difficult it is to obtain commercial use for properties with industrial zoning in Portland, they settled on the 82nd Avenue location.

“We chose it because everything else was going to be a fight. In addition, folks on the east coast are eager to build here. We wanted to beat them to the punch,” said Mangus.

The partners quickly grew to see the benefits of the area, including its proximity to downtown and MAX lines for local riders, as well as easy access to the airport and I-5 for out-of-town visitors.

According to Mangus, if the Lumberyard draws in just one percent of metro area off-road cyclists, they will break even financially. In addition, they plan to attract expert and professional riders who come to Oregon to ride in Oakridge, which earned a “silver” rating from the International Mountain Biking Association, and those who are passing through on their way to Whistler, B.C. - a longtime mountain biking hot spot.

Mangus said Heiberg and Whitesel are looking at property in Seattle and northern California, and are looking to “jump the line” and go to Vancouver, B.C. to take advantage of the I-5 corridor.

Heiberg and Whitesel were able to lure in professional rider and park designer Joe Prisel to work on their project. Prisel designed Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Parks in Cleveland, Ohio and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which were bought recently by Trek.

Prisel plans to include jumps, ramps, a pump track (a continuous loop that can be ridden without pedaling), and a cross-country course in the main building. Many of the features will be moveable, so that the layout can be changed from year to year. Also in the works is a separate 18,000-square-foot pole barn, a covered area with open sides that will have a 30-foot clearance height, allowing riders to practice tricks like 360's and backflips.

The Lumberyard is not just for the hardcore however, emphasize Mangus and Heiberg, who both have young children. They plan to make it a family-friendly spot, with a tot area on one side and a beginners' area on the other, so parents can keep an eye on kids of different ages. They will also offer skills clinics throughout the year and camps in the summer.

Madison South resident and mountain bike racer Johnny Vergis, who was born and raised in the neighborhood and went to Madison High School across the street, is tickled with the new indoor bike park. “This is great, I live nearby and could hardly wait for the place to open.” He said he was one of the first to purchase an annual pass to the Lumberyard. “I'll use it all the time; especially this winter.”

Adult clinics will be another way to draw cyclists in during the dry season, although Mangus anticipates that the park will busy year-round, not just in the wetter months when riding outside can be a drag.

“Even in the summer, you have to drive an hour to get to a trailhead. We know we'll get folks who want to just blow off steam for an hour after work,” he said.

Rates are $24.95 to ride weekdays, and $29.95 weekends. For children under 12, the cost is $12.95 daily and $14.95 on weekends. A parent must accompany kids under twelve. If you do not have a bike, the Lumberyard rents them for $15 a day.

For more information, call 503-252-2453, visit The Lumberyard is at 2700 NE 82nd Ave.
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