The sale of long-travel full suspension bikes might take a big jump around southeastern Wisconsin next Spring with the announcement of a professionally designed and built mountain bike ride center at the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin. Complete with a chairlift-served gravity course, a BMX track and cross-country trails, the new ride center will provide fun and challenging opportunities for everyone, from beginners to experienced riders. MTB ride centers like this are growing in popularity around the country and we can expect people to travel from around the region to “Ride the Rock.”
Developer Michael Zimmerman and his company Zimmerman Ventures LLC leased the land that made up the Crystal Ridge Ski Hill from Milwaukee County and initially planned to reopen it as a ski hill and baseball complex. Area mountain bike advocates from Metro Mountain Bikers, who have built and maintained trails at Crystal Ridge for years, approached Zimmerman, a baseball enthusiast, with the idea of including new, professionally built trails with his project. Metro even hired the consultant who designed the Valmont Bike Park outside Boulder, CO to create and opportunities study for a mountain bike park. They presented that study to Zimmerman, Milwaukee County and the Wisconsin Bike Fed. The study was well received by everyone and Bike Fed Executive Director Kevin Hardman gave the project rave reviews in this blog post.
Zimmerman’s own consultants, Arena Snow Parks and Gravity Logic, both of Whistler, BC fame, will oversee the design and construction of the new ski hill amenities and mountain bike park. Arena Snow Parks was behind the half-pipe at the 2010 Olympics and Gravity Logic built the world-class trails at Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Although The Rock does not have the elevation of Whistler, the 250 feet of vertical combined with a professionally built course will be enough to create a course sure to please even hardcore adrenaline junkies.
“We are really glad that Zimmerman has embraced the idea of aq mountain bike ride center at The Rock,” said Marty Weigel, West Allis alderman and president of Metro Mountain Bikers. “He is really a big idea guy. In addition to the ball parks, he is making a lot of great improvements to the ski hill and has hired consultants capable of building world-class mountain biking right here in Milwaukee.” Weigel noted that similar parks in Copper Harbor in Michigan and Cuyuna Lakes in Minnesota, have proved themselves to be money makers by attracting riders from around the region. “While we encouraged him, this is his idea and his investment.”
Milwaukee County’s well-used nearby “Alpha Trails” will remain free and to ride, but people will have to pay to use the terrain park and gravity course at The Rock. In the same way Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park was a game changer, this new ride center will add a completely new dimension to Wisconsin mountain biking. There is talk of other ride centers around Wisconsin, and the Bike Fed will bring you more news about those as soon as details are confirmed. Until then, plan on making a trip to Ride the Rock when it opens in Spring 2013, and let’s grab a beer together after. I can hardly wait!