The first thing that hits you when you walk into the space that will soon be the North Shore Bike Park is the sheer size of it. It’s massive.
It is also, at this point, a little sparse, as there are no finished features, and the floor is dominated by half-built jumps, ramps and rollers, as well as stacks upon stacks of lumber. But you can see the skeleton of what founder Mike Upton hopes will be a hub for years to come for the North Shore’s biking-mad population.
“It’s very much a community centre,” he said Thursday while giving the North Shore News a sneak peek inside the park. The park is located inside Capilano Mall, in the former Sears department store space. “It’s a community centre for cycling; it’s meant to be something available to all manners of cycling, whether it’s road or gravel or BMX, what have you. … There’ll be programs and camps and seminars and stuff like that for all types of cyclists, and all age groups and skill levels as well.”
The park was a hive of construction activity this week, with the work pace expected to grow over the coming weeks as they prepare for launch. Plans for the park were made public last fall. Since then, Upton and his crew, which includes talented craftspeople who have vast experience building bike features outdoors, have been hard at work with the tricky task of building a massive bike park inside a mall.
“Nobody has built anything like this inside a shopping mall before,” he said. “There are a lot of challenges – there’s a reason nobody’s built one in a mall before.”
One challenge comes from the ceiling, which at 15 feet is definitely on the low side compared to other indoor bike parks built in old warehouses or industrial parks. But they’ve made all the adjustments needed to allow for features and jumps for beginners up to advanced riders, said Upton.
“One of the first things that we did way back when we first looked at the space was to test it out and see how much fun you can have in a 15-foot ceiling,” he said. “And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”
There will be an advanced section with jumps and airbags for soft landings, but Upton is equally excited about the smaller pump track sections that will be accessible even for toddlers.
“These [builders] build stuff for advanced riders, yet they put a lot of effort into building stuff that even a run bike could get around on,” he said as he watched workers shaping the features in the beginner section. “That’s going to be my favourite part. This is going to be so much fun.”
Sitting on a raised platform near the old front entrance to Sears, Upton mapped out a floor plan that will allow riders of any skill to keep moving around the entire 60,000-square-foot space.
“The whole thing is designed to be perpetual. You could just keep going. There’s no need to stop and start and stop and start,” he said. “You could just keep doing loops, come up here, go back down, hit the pump track and come back up again.”
There is no firm date yet for the park’s opening, but Upton is hoping to have things ready for Spring Break in March. He added that there will likely be a phased opening, with some features ready right away while others may take a few more months to complete. For more information, visit the North Shore Bike Park website.