Keep the Torch Lit - Joyride 150 (Ontario)

Apr 26, 2013
by Robert Rebholz  

One of the toughest parts of living in the Northeast is keeping your love of mountain biking alive through the dead of winter. Riding outdoors can be down right brutal and there’s only so much the Internet can do to keep the flame lit. It’s usually right around mid-February that I say to myself that this whole mountain bike thing will never happen again.

Since December of 2009, riders in the Greater Toronto Area have had a wicked tonic for the winter blues - the Joyride 150 Bike Park. I visited Joyride for the first time in mid-February and it didn’t take much time to realize what a profound impact the park can have not only on your riding skills, but also your mental psyche.


I live in Buffalo, about two hours from Toronto and once a week for the last month I’ve been heading up to Joyride. My main goal at Joyride was to work on my jumping skills. When I lived in Whistler five years ago, I was able to get to a modest skill level. Since I've moved back to the East Coast, all of the jumps near me are pretty techincal BMX style jumps that are way beyond my ability, so my skills have gotten pretty rusty.

The thing that I noticed on my first visit to Joyride is how well they have taken the 'intimidation factor' out of every kind of riding. I was able to start out on the pumptrack and get my flow back a bit. Once I spent some time there, I moved over to the small jumps and figured those out. It was an easy transition to the larger set and now I have my eye on the big line.

For me it was about dialing in jumps, but the great thing about Joyride is how so many styles of riding can coexist under one roof. It's wild to be riding on the XC track, up in the rafters, and see a train of riders on the big line of jumps rising to your level. It's cool to see young kids getting into riding as well as parents and older riders rekindling their love for the sport. Hang out there for an afternoon and you’ll run into every level of rider from first day beginners to World Cup Cross-Country racers to Pro BMXers. Here's what a couple of the locals had to say about their experience at Joyride 150.


bigquotesWhen I first started here three years ago I couldn't hop a log and now I race on World Cup courses. Everyone is so close on fitness on the circuit, so if you can work on drops and riding rock gardens in the winter it gives you an edge once the Spring comes. - Haley Smith- Norco World Cup Cross Country racer


bigquotesWhen I first came here I couldn't get through the beginner line of jumps. After three season of riding here I can jump everything and throw tricks comfortably. I'm looking to do some slopestyle competitions this year as well. - Matt Bolton


bigquotesI have two little guys now and they love coming here. Sebastien is five and a half and when I first brought him here a few years ago he was on a run bike. Now he is on a pedal bike and loves hitting the blue jumps and even the foam pit. It's been great to see his confidence grow. - Cecile Gambin- Former Canadian National Downhill team member


bigquotesI've been coming here with my three-year-old son, Will, since November and we love it. He started on the strider and since January he's been on two wheels and he's progressing really quickly. I'm into it full on as well. I went from knowing nothing to being able to ride fakie, all the jumps and most recently foot jam tailwhips. It's funny asking a kid who is fourteen for riding tips, but everyone has been awesome here. - Kyle Osborne


The owners of Joyride 150, Scott Bentley and Mark Summers, were good enough to sit down with me and have a chat about their inspiration for creating the park, the ups and downs and the relationships they've built through the process.

How did you get inspired to build this place?

Scott: Mark said he was planning a trip to Ray’s in Cleveland with his family and asked me if I wanted to join him. My wife thought it sounded like a cool idea and she pitched the story to Discovery Television. We went down there and shot a story on Ray’s and I absolutely loved his idea and wanted to help him get exposure.

Mark: It was a long time after we returned that we started to think about how cool it would be to have something similar to Ray’s up here. Scott and I were working on an industrial renovation in a big warehouse, fixing it up for someone else and got to thinking if we could make it happen. We put together a business plan and decided that it just might work.


What was the hardest part of getting the place going?

Scott: Finding a facility and a suitable location at the right price was really difficult. We searched a radius of an hour’s distance from the GTA and found nothing. We’d pitch our idea and people would just turn us down. Even if people had empty buildings they just turned us down. At one point we thought we were not going to get be able to get it done because we couldn’t find a facility. Eventually someone came to us and offered us this place and it all worked out.

Mark: The hardest part for me has been everything that comes along with running a business like this. Dealing with the red-tape bureaucracy and time lines can be tough.


How was the building process?

Scott: It was hard to get over the sheer vastness of the space. It was intimidating to see that empty space and have to fill the whole place with things you want to put in it. Once we finally got the place in September, we were putting in 100 hour workweeks for three and an a half months to get the place open by winter break. It was great to see all the overwhelming support we got from volunteers who wanted to come out and help. It was also very cool to be able to work side by side with my father for the project, because I only get to see him three or four times a year.


How has the response been?

Mark: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone coming in the door is here to have fun. How many businesses have that kind of awesome clientele? It’s great to see all the little kids getting into it as well as the older guys learning how to jump again.

Scott: We’re growing at a good rate and gaining more and more traction. We’re able to offer more programs as we grow as well. Besides our ‘learn to ride’ programs we are doing summer camps, after school programs, police bike training and programs that reach out to at-risk youths. We had the opportunity to bring in a group of severely handicapped kids and wheel them around the park on the rollers and show them people riding the big jumps. That was a really special experience to be able to share the experience of riding with someone who isn’t physically able to on his or her own.


It seems like your focus in the park is really getting people who’ve never ridden a bike before into it. How do you do that?

Scott: Well the intimidation factor can be huge at places like this for people who are new to it. For us it’s about opening up and building stuff for beginners to progress and take away that intimidation factor. We’re creating new cyclists every day. People with no exposure to biking can come here with nothing and we’ll set them up with a bike and a lesson. Within a few weeks they start to learn the ropes and they’re off buying a new bike.

We are actively trying to pursue programs that will help people transition into other disciplines of cycling as well. We’ll take BMX guys and give them a cross-country bike and take them on trail ride. Or maybe someone who never has ridden road or raced mountain bikes on a road ride or take them to an eight-hour XC race. If you can bring down the intimidation factor, you break down the barriers to a new discipline of cycling and make the sport stronger on a whole.

Mark: I think what’s great about this place is the camaraderie between different types of cyclists under one roof. We hope to break down the barriers between the different styles of riding. We’re trying to show people in one building a bunch of different styles of cycling. Our goal is to create more and more lifelong cyclists.


You’ve talked about the beginners, but I see a lot of nasty rippers in this park as well. What does Joyride do for the high-skill segment?

Mark: I think we give them a place where they can progress their riding, just like anyone else who comes through the door. We really try to listen to guys like Brett Rheeder, Drew Bezanson and our employees like Brandon Webster who just got back last week from Simple Sessions in Estonia. Last week we had the Red Bull Performance Camp here and we had some of the top riders in the world like Daniel Dhers, Corey Bohan and Daniel Sandoval getting ready for X-Games at the same time as a youth group was learning to ride.


Any parting words?

Mark: For me it's been great to work with my family on this whole project. My wife does the books, my eldest son does much of the design work, my daughter takes care of Twitter and Instagram and my youngest helps with various jobs. It's been so cool taking our love for riding, we all raced mountain bikes for years, and then channeling that into this place.

Scott: Ultimately, we were looking to build a community and we feel that we’ve done that. The bike community here is thriving and you can sense it the moment you walk through the door. It makes coming to work every day feel not much like work at all. Working with family has been great for me as well.


Thanks again to Mark and Scott for rolling out the red carpet for me on this project and allowing me great access to the park and introducing me to tons of awesome local riders. Thanks to Haley, Kyle & Will, Cecile and Sebastien, Matt Bolton, Sean Maule and all of the other locals who I had a chance to meet during my time at Joyride. Also thanks to Carter Holland at Black Market, Jim Cielencki at Sunday Bikes, Scott Boyd at Hayes Group, and David Parrett at LH Thomson for setting me up with a terrific bike to ride at Joyride. Big shout out to Jeremiah Stich and the boys at Bert's Bikes for setting it up for me. Joyride 150 is open year round, so go check it out for yourself!

Here's a vid by BMXFU featuring hometown boy Drew Bezanson killing Joyride 150:

Views: 40,568    Faves: 1,398    Comments: 164



97 Comments

  • 92 3
 We need more things like this in the UK! Looks so much fun!
  • 7 1
 there is a group of guy's in manchester planning one like this heres the link www.dirtfactory.org check it out but i think the website is still down for maitainance it should be back up soon tho
  • 2 1
 Oh sounds cool! Shame its a good hour and a half away, would be awesome to have something as cool as that on your doorstep, but I guess beggars can't be choosers!
  • 4 1
 my dad wanted to do the same thing but isnt sure people will go -.- he needs to do it haha
  • 2 1
 Provided there are local riders, I'm sure it'd work!
  • 9 36
flag Lilshredman (Apr 26, 2013 at 8:04) (Below Threshold)
 Hey, we need that in California! I'm tired of Cross-Country trails!
  • 26 1
 I'm pretty sure there are some sick trails in Cali..
  • 6 0
 It is the best place to be in the winter!
  • 3 0
 I love having this place so close by. been there about three times this winter
  • 5 0
 Its not fair to have a indoor bike park with NO GRAVITY. That guy is just floating around in there.
  • 3 0
 @ Mark and Scott - kudos for putting together such an awesome place. @ Rob great article but what sad turn of events had you move from Whistler to Buffalo! (no offense Buffalo but if you ride I'm sure you see where I'm coming from).
  • 2 0
 Need more stuff like this everywhere....place looks amazing
  • 75 0
 forget gun rights, the new political agenda for legislation should be working on making it illegal to have less than 3 of these type parks in every state!
  • 50 0
 HERMIT185 FOR PREZIDENT!
  • 5 0
 He's got my vote!
  • 2 0
 I was thinking one per city over 50,000
  • 8 0
 If he becomes president i will actually move to the US. Vote Hermit 2016
  • 18 1
 vancouver area needs a place like this.
  • 3 1
 Yes, yes it does.
  • 7 2
 Would be nice, but it would be much harder to build a business case due to:

- high real estate cost
- except for dirt jumps, most lower elevation trails and skate parks are rideable year round
- many bikers switch to skiing/snowboarding in the winter with 3 local ski hills (Cypress, Grouse, Seymour) and Whistler 2 hours away.
  • 2 1
 hmm.. that said, If there were a place in the winter that i could actually ride my bike, when i wasn't snowboarding i'd be there!
  • 9 3
 You don't get anything more Vancouver! There are a million places that need an indoor bike park much more than you do. You already have it better than 99% of the rest of the world and you still want more?
  • 5 0
 Plus you guys have Whistler an hour an a half away. It takes me that long to drive to Joyride and I would much rather take that long of a trip to go to Whistler
  • 1 0
 And for us farther out in the fraser valley we have hemlock but it can get extremely muddy, an indoor place lile this would be great since missions skatepark is the worst ive ever seen
  • 1 0
 Put it in the Richmond Olympic Oval...seriously! I'll help write a pitch.
  • 12 0
 Joyride 150 is just amazing. It really is the next best thing to having dirt under your tires. I took my kids there late Feb or early March, and my 6 year old learned how to ride without training wheels during an epic blizzard. I was just there last night working on getting better at the jump lines and skinnies. The XC track is also amazing, and is what only maybe a million times better than riding a trainer during the winter. I pay to play every time I go but I'll be buying a membership for this coming winter season, they will even keep your bike in storage there for you so you don't have to haul it around during the winter. That's a big plus for me because I drive 100km to get there and its just one less thing to worry about. Basically now I don't use a trainer to try to keep my fitness over the winter, I ride to keep it and improve all my skills at the same time. If you live in the area and havent been, give yourself a shake and get in there already!
  • 5 0
 What about the desert? You guys might have it hard in the winter but when it's 120 degrees it makes it pretty hard to ride as well, let's build one of these in Southern California.
  • 7 0
 How long is the weather at 120 degrees out there? Snow hit my area mid-late Nov and there is still ice and snow on some of the trails. I am not saying you don't need a park because it is awesome and everybody should get one, I am just curious how long of a time during the year you can't ride?
  • 1 0
 It is hot here for about 4 months. A couple of those months it's really hot, even in the mornings. I think an indoor park could work here because kids are out of school when it is miserable outside. But, the demographics may make it prohibitive.
  • 1 0
 I hear you @digilog but I'm not going to get on my trails for probably another 3 weeks as the snow is still 2 feet deep in some places. it will be about 6 months without riding trail, I'm going crazy.
  • 1 1
 Not to rub it in but I can ride everyday of the year on Vancouver islandSmile
  • 4 0
 went there for the first time this winter, my buddy and I had a blast, there's a little something for everyone there. I think that place really taught me to try and feel the flow on every trail. And yeah I think there should be one of these in every major city, the after school programs alone are worth their weight in gold.
  • 8 1
 Lets be honest, EVERYWHERE needs a place like this
  • 4 2
 I love this place, as a rider myself, introducing mountain biking to my family, this was a great stepping stone. I gives you confidence to learn, tp push yourself safely. My daughter at 8 yrs old then, loves the foam pit, even my wife who is new to the riding scene, but joins me at every race event, now has a bike, and hits up the foam pit. Age doesnt matter here, I have seen 3yr olds to people in there late ages riding here, your there as a rider to learn, everyone is so down to earth, and willing to share. Love this place once a gain!
  • 2 0
 So awesome to see support for these types of parks. I'm blessed to have Ray's Indoor MTB Park in Milwaukee an hour and a half from where I live, and I still don't get there enough! The quote that comes to mind most often for me when I'm there is: "Everyone is a student, and everyone is a teacher." It's so easy and fun to progress as a rider while the trails are covered in snow and ice.
  • 2 0
 It's a pretty sick place. I live on McCowan and 16th, so Joyride is like 5 minutes away. I went there throughout the winter since it's impossible to do any riding whatsoever apart from snowboarding, and greatly improved my skills, from jumping to pump track. I just wish that the XC course would be longer and more challanging.
  • 1 0
 what is the XC track like? I cant really imagine anything particulary suitable for XC in a not-so-large facility. Is it just a short closed loop somewhere under the ceiling?
  • 1 0
 The XC loop is 800 meters, with two climbs, one short and steep and the other a bit larger. There are lots of features packed into the 800M's though making the laps challenging, jumps, log drops, rock gardens, skinnies, etc. I was of the same opinion, how could XC inside be any good, but trust me its better than you can imagine. I have taken video of the XC loop with my gopro and will post a link later today in a reply.
  • 1 0
 It's a whole mix of track that runs close to the ceiling, with manmade hills, then having to pedal up the it, and bike down it. On the ground there are a few rock gardens, rollers and drops. It's not too difficult, just tiring and helps you work on all skills
  • 2 0
 They should continue the loop on the roof Razz But yea, it's great for sprinting and stamina.
  • 1 0
 hey, digilog, I am still waiting for that video reply of yours, really looking forward to seeing the xc loop.
  • 1 0
 Crap sorry dude I'll get it up tonight.
  • 1 0
 This place is amazing take my two boys there also and they learn so quick. This next winter we will b getting memberships. U can also pay a small fee to store your bikes there so u don't need to pack and transport in the winter months. Great place where u just hang out and chill. Very laid back atmosphere. Lucky we r so close.
  • 1 0
 I thought I was lucky to live within a few hours of Rays in Cleveland. Then bam! The Wheel Mill opens up a mile from my house in Pittsburgh. Looks like my deity cryptkeeper is going to get a lot more use. Every city needs an indoor park. It makes the winters so much more bearable.
  • 1 0
 I get in a few times a winter and it's great fun, and translates into some good skills on the trails. I'm very inexperienced in the jump department as I generally ride XC trails, but this place is a great one to practice in as my local dirt jumps all have big gaps which I really don't feel like falling in. It's also amazing to practice skinnies in a controlled environment. Good on the owners for this huge contribution to the Toronto bike community. Love you joyride!

Now we just need one down town Wink
  • 1 0
 When Scott mentions: "It was also very cool to be able to work side by side with my father for the project, because I only get to see him three or four times a year. " I definitely know what he's talking about. When you get older with kids and all and your parents don't live close by it's always great when father and son get together with a common goal in mind. I always learn new stuff from my old man and I always will.

Glad to see so many family and friends getting involved to produce a dream both Mark and Scott had. I'm sure so many people around GTA are extremely happy as well. Congrats to everyone involved, I've not been there but from what I'm seeing the infrastructure looks amazing along with all the sessions covering from beginner to advance riders.

I believe every country needs more guys like these.
  • 1 0
 I've been coming to this place with a buddy for the past 3 years & am very thankful we have something like this to ride at during the winter! I've practiced pump-tracking, jump lines, skinnies riding, etc......
When Spring rolls around, I feel more confident & better skilled to hit my outdoor trails with a lot more energy & commitment! If it wasn't for Joyride150, I would be a lot more rusty & slower at getting started in the Spring!
Anyone who rides a bike has to check out this place & discover it for themselves!
Oh I too have taken many pointers/ techniques from many 14 year olds & that too helped improve my skills/ speed/ confidence!!!!!
Long live JoyRide150!!!!!!
  • 1 0
 Great article! I hope that as years pass by, we start seeing these indoor parks pop up in more communities, with support and partial (or full) funding from the municipalities. They truly are very positive environments that encourage all kinds of people to come out, from seasoned pros to families.

Shout out to Cecile Gambin! Great rider and has been passionate about cycling her whole life; great to see that passion passed down to her little kidlets.
  • 1 0
 Hi. We will have something very similar to this in the UK soon. I am the founder of a company called Dirt Factory - indoor mountain bike centre. When i see successful business' like this one it gives me a massive boost. Our website is currently down at the moment becasue we have been working hard revamping the whole thing - but check us out on www.facebook.com/Dirtfact and see what you think. Be sure to check out our website where alot of your questions will be answered, it will be up and running by Friday this week. Dan Makin.
  • 1 0
 Hi. We will have something very similar to this in the UK soon. I am the founder of a company called Dirt Factory - indoor mountain bike centre. When i see successful business' like this one it gives me a massive boost. Our website is currently down at the moment becasue we have been working hard revamping the whole thing - but check us out on www.facebook.com/Dirtfact and see what you think. Be sure to check out our website where alot of your questions will be answered, it will be up and running by Friday this week. Dan Makin.
  • 1 0
 videos like this one remind me that BMX is still fun to watch. It's a shame that 90% of BMX is little punks that spray paint their entire bike and the wonder why their wheels dont spin and it's hard to turn the bars.
  • 3 0
 If I saw this video 10 years ago my head you have exploded! The talent is out of control!
  • 2 0
 Drew kills it. U should see in person
  • 1 0
 joyride 150 is one of my favourite places to go to during the winter i just wish that there were more locations like this closer to where i live because it can be a challenge getting there
  • 2 0
 Wish there was some place like that when i was getting into biking.. looks amazing
  • 4 0
 Edmonton area please!!!
  • 3 0
 great idea too bad no one would support it just like Rabbit Hill...
  • 1 0
 Too bad..
  • 1 0
 Yeah man its so lame rabbit is gone edmonton is a tough place to be a freerider or dh rider or anything other than xc
  • 1 0
 Personally I think something like this would do awsome in our area. Snow is just now melting and its almost may lol. People take places like rabbit for granted whereas i think people would appreciate an indoor facility like this wayyyy more.
  • 4 0
 A properly utilized indoor riding facility would be used year round in Edmonton. We have a huge scene of dirt jump riders, BMX, even trials. Tons of the DH and free ride riders also have hard tails they like to play on. I would completely support a facility such as this, and I know at least 50 other people that would as well. Not to mention outlying area riders such as Devon, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Fort Sask, the Park... It would succeed.
  • 1 0
 Good point jaycobzz Its true alot of people would love it and it would be used alot considering winter is the longest season of the year here. I would be in line for a family pass Smile how would someone even get the ball rolling??
  • 1 0
 Not to mention all of central alberta as well. There would definitely be some legitimacy in an indoor facility
  • 1 0
 just gotta find someone that has enough money to purchase a facility and supplies, input from the people who would use the facility and what they want to see, and go from there. If i win the lottery i will do it.
  • 1 0
 This is alberta. There is money and someone WILL find it
  • 1 0
 Great article Rob. Your photos and words show us what Joyride is all about - having fun riding bikes with family & friends, and a great place to be
!!
  • 1 0
 Awesome,great write up too, the owners have done great props to them, really making a difference and living da dream!
  • 2 0
 I need to go there next winter
  • 1 0
 It's cool having this 1.5h away and it's better than any all season parks near me anyways. Hope more of these pop up.
  • 2 1
 I think there's something wrong with this place..........I'm not there!!!!!!!!
  • 1 0
 Try cranx in Syracuse. it might be an extra 20 minutes but you might like it more!
  • 1 0
 How much does it cost to session in this place? Question for those who have used this very place... cheers!
  • 1 0
 Awesome riding ! Talk about proprioception
  • 1 0
 looks awesome, we need places like that around here
  • 2 1
 Defo need this in the uk! A park with loads of jump boxes looks awesome!
  • 1 1
 we used to have this amazing venue in the North-East (APE at Thornaby) but it was too expensive to operate amongst other problems that sadly caused it to close

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  • 1 0
 The owner is Mark Summers...anyone remember Double Dare?
  • 2 0
 ya bolts!
  • 1 0
 i just had an accident in the front region of my pants mmmmmmmmmmm
  • 1 0
 the people who can ride this place dont realise how lucky they are....
  • 1 0
 fun place but definitely expensive.
  • 1 0
 Yeah ! Someone should build one of these here in Calgary !
  • 1 0
 Next time I go home I'm takin my kid there!
  • 1 0
 Joyride is great. GO THERE!
  • 1 0
 I love livin on Vancouver Island!
  • 1 0
 Great spot but they poached Paddy Kaye's company name
  • 1 0
 This place is beast! I learnt my backflip in the foam pit.
  • 1 0
 Great article Robert.
  • 1 0
 Amazing
  • 1 0
 heaven on earth
  • 1 0
 Looks lush c
  • 1 1
 The ramps look sick, but not keen on the dog-obediance course
  • 2 4
 My office is less than 5 minutes away from JR150. Shame on me for not going there yet...
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