Monday, October 22, 2007

Free CAMBA Preview at Ray's MTB

I went to the free grand opening preview for CAMBA members at Ray's MTB Indoor Park this past Friday. When I pulled into the parking lot, I wondered where they were going to put everyone inside the park, as there were more cars in the lot than I had ever seen there before. But, with all of the expansion that Ray has done for this season, there was plenty of room for everyone.

I checked in at the CAMBA table inside, where they were taking applications for anybody who wanted to come that was not already a CAMBA member.

As always, there is an area equipped with tools, pumps, and workstands in case you need to make any adjustments to your bike.

I first went to Ray's at the beginning of the first season, in the fall of '04. I went again later that season, then once during the '05-06 season. I didn't make it at all during the '06-07 season. I always had a good time when I went there to ride, but my personal impression was that the riding was either too easy or too difficult; there was not enough intermediate (Sport) terrain. This is something that Ray has definitely addressed this season. The new Sport section consists of 15 separate "rhythms," or sections of trail. They are all accessed by from a raised wooden platform known as the Moen deck. You can hang out on the platform, scoping and the different rhythms and challenging your friends, or you can keep coming back to the Moen deck over and over in a continuous loop, doing each rhythm one after the other, keep doing your favorite ones over and over, or repeat the more challenging ones until you can clear them!

Riders of all ages enjoyed the Sport area from the Moen deck:

What surprised me the most is how much fun the new Beginner area is. The Beginner Room has a section with some features that are built very low to the floor for beginning riders to start to develop their handling skills. But it also has a platform with a few ramps that lead to banked turns, a rock garden, and log pile. These are a blast, and I spent a long time riding them over and over!

The Gary Fisher XC Course loops around the entire building, and run up through the rafters in some parts. It's a great way to get a riding experience most like what you would riding a regular mountain bike trail in the woods. For most riding at Ray's, platform pedals are recommended, but if you expect to spend most of your time on the XC course, you may want to consider sticking with your SPD's or other click-in type pedals. I found myself having a hard time pedaling up the climbs into the rafters using the platform pedals on my Cannondale Prophet.

To sum it up, with this season's expansion at Ray's, no matter what your skill level or riding style, there truly is something for everyone. If it's been a while since you've tried the riding at Ray's, it is worth making the trip for another look. If you've never been there at all, then all the more reason--go check it out!

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