- Jim Ingram
Some people see a hole in the market while others see an opportunity to help their community. High school teacher Mike Bisig is one person who visualizes both with the impending advent of Mike’s Indoor Bike Park near downtown Dayton.
Bisig’s vision began to take shape the moment he spotted the empty industrial facility on Crane Street. With several floors and approximately 50,000 square feet of space, the building is something he says local cyclists of all styles and skill levels can get excited about. In fact, there was buzz about it at the recent Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience.
“Dayton is a cycling community. There’s nothing like this around here. The reason you can go to places like the Outdoor Experience and people get excited about it is that Dayton has been wanting something like this forever. There’s a huge audience for this, and they want it to succeed,” Bisig said.
The building, which has been vacant for three years, may look rough on the inside and out. But Bisig says, aside from some plumbing and roof issues, it’s exactly the thing cyclists like.
“The building itself really just needs to be cleaned. This type of facility — you want it to be down to the bare brick. It doesn’t need as much as you would think because it needs to look industrial,” he said.
Investors and sponsored sections of the park are helping to cover the lion’s share of the costs. The rest has come through crowdfunding through the Mike’s Indoor Bike Park website. As word has spread about the facility, the biking community has stepped up to lend a hand in both donated funds and sweat equity.
“The amount of people who’ve offered to help is insane. Every single day there’s email after email of people offering to volunteer their time to help fix this up,” Bisig said. “The biking community tends to be one that helps itself all the time. When you’re on the mountain bike trails, those are maintained by mountain bikers. We’re kind of used to doing that.”
THE BIKE PARK
While Bisig and a local architect are working on things like making repairs and designing locker rooms, the actual layout of the park is being handled by professional rider Craig Billingsley, who designed and operated The Flow Skate Park in Columbus. Tracks will be built for riders of all disciplines, from the BMX riders to the casual street cyclist and everything in between. One eye-opening design includes a continuous loop going throughout the facility —between two floors — and spanning nearly half a mile.
Winter is a big time for indoor bike parks, and Bisig hopes he can have the track up and running by early next year once he and his investors close on the building sometime next month. Riders can pay for day passes, with pricing for beginners and children, or purchase memberships in six-month intervals.
“The bulk of our income for the entire year is in the winter time, because they can’t ride anywhere else. It would be great for us, financially, to be open in January,” Bisig said.
Similar parks tend to shut down once spring and summer roll around. But Bisig’s business model is built around remaining open all year by offering workshops and alternatives for parents looking for something other than video games to keep their children occupied when school is out.
“I think a key factor in that is to have events and reasons for them to come here. I’m a teacher and it may be things like educational opportunities. Give them some real-world skills if they’re going to ride on the road,” he said.
“We want to give people the opportunity to feel like this is theirs. They might not own the building, but they have a vested interest in it. It’s here for the community.”