Where there was once a Sears, there are now shredders.
Bikes have been pumping on and jumping off the winding wooden features at North Shore Bike Park all weekend in North Vancouver’s Capilano Mall.
After a soft launch that started on Saturday, the park opened to the public on Tuesday. The massive 65,000-square-foot facility is housed in the former location of Sears, which shuttered when the company went bankrupt in 2017.
After a painstaking construction effort, Phase One of construction is complete. Currently, rideable is a pump track for little shredders, a pump track for intermediates, three jump lines from beginner to advanced, and a half-pipe.
There’s a long list of things that will be added soon, says founder Mike Upton. That list includes a street zone set up like a skate park, an airbag zone and another area dubbed the North Shore zone, which are expected to be ready by the end of the year.
The park concept was developed by Darren Butler, co-owner of Endless Biking. Construction was overseen by two Red Seal carpenters, one with prior experience building bike parks, and the tracks have been tested for safety and performance.
“It’s no small feat to build a bike park inside a shopping mall. Nobody’s done it before, and there’s a reason,” Upton said.
Since the soft launch, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, he said.
“Everybody’s having a really good time … some of them out there today, that’s their fourth day in a row,” Upton continued. “We’re so happy to see that.”
At the park Tuesday afternoon, Anthony Gregory was getting big airtime off the jump lines, and making attempts at rotation tricks in the half-pipe. The mountain biker saw that the bike park was opening on Instagram, and came down for his first day.
Riders impressed with quality of park features
“Having an indoor spot is awesome. You can ride all year round, when it gets dark,” said the 19-year-old Kiwi, who recently moved to Canada to promote his sports apparel brand. “We don’t have this kind of stuff back in New Zealand.”
The features are well-made, he said.
“If you go fast enough, you can pop them high – even though you’re so close to the roof, it feels safe. You know you’re not gonna go that high because they’ve been built so well,” Gregory said, adding that he’s looking forward to seeing bigger jumps and airbags when they’re ready.
Apart from the biking features, the park hosts a pro shop with apparel and safety gear, as well as a lounge area, which will be activated for birthdays and other events.
“If you were to come here today, it’s a really convenient nice place to sit and have some lunch – bring in food from the food court,” Upton said, adding that bike park guests get a discount at food court vendors.
“Otherwise, the lounge is going to transform in the evenings. It’s all configurable … and we plan on having live bands, large workshops, seminars, dealer events, all kinds of things going on in there,” he said. “The bike park is really meant to be so much more than a bike park.”
In talks to bring bike parks to other underused retail locations
While the biking area takes up the main floor of the location, a space on the second floor has been given to Family Services of the North Shore, free of charge. The upper floor also hosts Bikes for Tykes, a charity run by Obsession: Bikes owner James Wilson, that refurbishes donated bikes.
“If you go upstairs where we’re storing them all, there’s about 100 bikes that have been donated already, and Obsession: Bikes will do all the maintenance on them. And then they’ll be gifted to kids and families around Christmastime by Family Services in the North Shore,” Upton explained.
The 10 partners who have privately funded North Shore Bike Park are in talks to expand the model of converting underused retail spaces into destinations for cycling and recreation.
Upton said they want to expand the community element as well.
“Everything that we’re doing here in North Vancouver, at Capilano Mall, is what we’re going to be duplicating when we bring it to these other towns or cities.”