Have you ever stopped at an outdoor skate park in your neighbourhood to watch riders doing amazing tricks on their BMX bikes and think, “I wish I could do that”? Did you secretly imagine it was you out there doing 360s and Crankflips?
Yeah… us too. [Insert sheepish giggle here]
Bicycle stunt riding is more popular than ever. That’s because, let’s face it—it looks super cool and super fun. No wonder it has become an internationally respected sport. You will even see BMXers compete in the Olympics. Here is the good news: if you want to try it, you can. Believe it or not, BMX and other kinds of stunt riding really are for anyone who wants to give it a go. At over 100,000 square feet, Joyride 150 in Markham is the largest indoor bike facility in Canada. It is open year-round, and is the ideal location for riders of all ages and skill levels to progress, from the absolute beginner to the pro.
We recently caught up with general manager Dave Thomas, who showed us how to get started with a few tricks on a BMX bike. Watch the videos here:
Joyride 150 is not just limited to BMX. The park caters to all varieties of bike riding including dirt, jump, mountain and cross-country mountain. “We’ve got a little bit of something for everyone here,” says Dave. “Everyone who works here, as well as the owners, we are all riders. So, we are fixed on the riding community and providing lots of options for them, as well as giving them somewhere to ride in the winter.”
If you have never been to Joyride 150 before, then you are in for a unique experience. With the number of different obstacles and types of ramps there are to ride, you will be entertained for hours. You can expect great customer service and a large fleet of bikes to rent from for your day of fun. There is also equipment for sale and a fully-stocked bike shop for repairs and upgrades. Lessons and camps are also available for those that want extra help or to hone their skills. “It is really a one-stop shop for anyone who likes to ride a bike,” Dave states.
Naturally, Joyride 150 attracts kids in large numbers—as any parent knows, children tend to be fearless. But the park does see adults getting into the fun as well. Sometimes, parents who take their kids will have ridden in the past, and will be inspired to get back on a bike and give it a go. And sometimes adults will want to try even though they have never ridden before. The park is perfect for the first-time rider, since it operates on a model of graduated skills progression. “It is a wide age demographic we have, from 16 months all the way to 60 years,” Dave says. “We allow balance bikes here for the younger kids, and we even have a few for adults. My son first came here when he was just over a year-and-a-half. We have lots of young riders at the park who have become some of our most proficient riders and are now competing at a professional level.”
Some of these professionals whose names you might recognize include Drew Bezanson (one of the top BMX park riders in the world), Brett Rheeder (2013 Munich X-Games Slopestyle Gold Medalist), Jaden Chipman (Team Canada athlete and top-ranked Canadian athlete in the world in UCI BMX Freestyle heading into the 2019 PanAm Games) and Brayden Barrett-Hay (FMB World Tour competitor). “These are professional riders who compete all over the world, and they come here to train,” Dave states enthusiastically. “It is really awesome to see them out and doing well in their sport, knowing that we have provided an area for them to practice and get better.”
Dave’s Tips for Riding
So, show of hands: how many of you reading this article right now have already penciled in a day on your calendar to head over to Joyride 150? Yeah… us too [Insert sheepish giggle number two here]. For your day at the park, here are some helpful tips from Dave Thomas, general manager and avid rider, which will stand you in good stead no matter what your level of expertise on a bike.
1. Do what you’re comfortable with and progress at your own skill level
The great thing about riding is that everyone does it a little bit differently, so everyone can progress at their own pace. The main thing Dave and his staff want new riders to know is that you need to make sure you feel comfortable. “Try to stay relaxed,” he says. “Every rider who is trying to learn something new is going to feel a bit of anxiety while doing it. But as long as you have developed your skills leading up to it, and you have practiced through the beginner steps, then progression is a natural part of the sport.”
2. Learn how to fall
Obviously, when we are talking about jaw dropping tricks like Euro Tables, Alleyoops and Moto Whips, or even beginner tricks like Bunny Hops and Barspins, you can expect to fall more than once. The pros know that there is a technique to falling, and that it is as important, if not more, than any trick you may land. “Learning to fall involves rolling when you land,” Dave explains. “It is important to known when to stay on your bike and when to get off and let yourself fall properly if something goes wrong.”
3. Ride with friends and let them help you
For 35-year-old Dave, who started riding when he was 13, riding with friends has been very helpful. He finds that not only have they encouraged him to try new things, but they’ve also helped him recognize his own boundaries and be sensible about what he can and cannot do. He says, “Friends can help push you when you need that extra nudge. But they can also help by knowing your riding ability enough to help you decide if what you are trying is within your skill level.”
4. Book a lesson or join a camp if you want focused instruction
While the staff at Joyride 150 are always around to ensure their facility remains safe, the park is more of a “come and ride at your pace” kind of place. For those riders who want to feel comfortable that they are doing the right things the right way, the park offers lessons and camps with experienced riders. Extra instruction is never a bad thing when it comes to safety, after all. For more information on Joyride 150, visit their website at www.joyride150.com or call (905) 294-1313. The park is currently closed due to COVID-19, but we are excited for the day when they will open their doors once again to riders of all ages and skill levels.
Story by Katherine Ryalen