photo by popsdigital on flickr
Sunday we awoke to ambitions of enjoying the last day of Christmas break on the slopes. All pumped and ready to go, we dismally looked out the window as reality hit hard. Windy and temps of -25 sent images of skiing with three whiny kids and frozen toes. Ick. I'd rather stick my tongue to a metal pole.
So we set our sights on checking out a brand new indoor biking facility in Markham; this new arena promising 90,000 square feet of fun. Ah, to blow the dust off recent memories of bike rides spent under the canopies of Glen Major (was that really just 45 days ago that we felt the sun on our faces as our tires spun freely over Three Rock? Sigh...).
With bikes curiously wondering what they were doing out of storage in the middle of winter, we arrived at JoyRide-150. Our eyes widened as we took in the scenery: scads of pump tracks, woop-dee-doos, logs and obstacles. They even had an X-track that you could do laps on for those yearning for the trails. Our family ranged from beginner to intermediate so we were relieved there was something for everyone.
While my boys rode off and hit every jump they could find, my daughter meandered through the beginner section; a little nervous about spreading her wings (or tires) to other parts of the park. We chose to go and watch the boys at the foam pit for a change of scenery. Here, bikers can launch themselves down a ramp and up another, catching some air at the top and landing in a big pile of foam. The boys and I gave it a go and soon discovered the freedom of landing without injury.
We decided to break for lunch and enjoyed our packed sandwiches and yogurts (yes, you can bring your own food, although they sell pizza and other stuff at the vendor counter). Two fireplaces and big screens were this area's focal point but I was too distracted by the alluring scent of someone's crock pot full of chili. What a great idea. Definitely packing my own crock pot for our next visit.
As the day wore on and we all became accustomed to the terrain, I was amazed when my daughter announced she'd like to try the foam pit. I was really taken aback by her bravery! As she stood high on the ramp with her front tire on the edge, I was so proud of her. She was about to do something she clearly feared. With teeth clenched (mine, not hers) she threw her front tire over the ramp, cruised at top speed and up the launch, landing soundlessly into a cloud of foam cubes. Way to go, Sam. Perhaps an inspiring lesson for us all when we feel fear gripping our ambitions.
Turns out this place will be the perfect mental therapy for surviving the long, winter days that loom ahead.
I urge each family to check out JoyRide for their own biking adventures and memories. You don't have to be die-hard riders to love this place. The $25 per person is well worth it, cheaper than any lift ticket, and you can bring your own equipment (that you probably have in your garage as I type this). Some other info that may help you plan your trip:
- It's a bit chilly inside the park so plan to wear a sweatshirt until you get warmed up.
- You can rent bikes for $15 (Jeremy and I did) but know that they come with no gears.
- Rental bikes cannot go in the foam pit.
- I wouldn't suggest clipping in for this park. Some people were, but you start and stop quite a bit for other bikers.
- The atmosphere is very comparable to a ski resort; so you can pack your own lunch or buy it.
- They have lockers but you need to rent a lock (or you can bring your own).
A final thanks to the gusting winds of Sunday. Without you, the day wouldn't have been possible.