those of us glued to the world of road racing are pretty much inured to the fact that drug taking exists in the sport at more levels than is desirable. these drugs, though allegedy diminishing as each successive generation inflitrates the peloton, have been predominantly of the performance enhancing variety. as one who has lengthy personal debates about taking a couple of ibuprofen to cure a headache, i'm the last person to discuss or lecture about the iniquities of succumbing to the temptation. simply put, it's against the regulations of the sport and thus likely to incur the wrath of the governing body in proportion to the seriousness of the offence.
however, modern society would seem also to have a problem with what are termed recreational drugs, in which alcohol is every bit as great a factor. judging by the state of some folks i've seen on a saturday evening, these could rarely be described as performance enhancing, though i'm sure through the mists of the participants, that is probably a subjective point of view.
sadly there are those who become addicted, travelling from the highs reputedly available, to the all-time lows of needing a fix on a daily or more frequent basis. i have known many who are no longer with us due to such abuses, and i'm sure most of you have too. however, rays mtb indoor bike park is a story of alcohol and drug abuse with a happy ending, one that not only confirms our faith in the bicycle as the ideal cure for all known ills, but one that proves if you grab those opportunities when they shine in your eyes, you might solve more than just the one problem.
ray petro is just such an individual, who happily consumed far more alcohol and cocaine than is considered appropriate for anyone wishing to adhere to a healthy lifestyle. living in cleveland, ohio, he left home as a teenager and moved into a rundown warehouse in the heart of downtown cleveland. He started a construction business called Studio 1863 and began making funky furniture and cabinets in the empty space next door.
"That was the first time I started to see myself as an artist. I loved the city and creating things and I had all this cool loft space where I could build whatever I wanted to make it even cooler."
that warehouse space turned into the ideal after hours party haunt for most of cleveland's party people, including drug dealers, trippers and sport and music celebrities. this offered ray the opportunity to indulge his addictions either free or at very little cost, since those party people provided ready made customers for the dealers. it's hardly stretching the imagination too much to realise his downward spiral became ever faster.
until he saw that mountain bike.
"I remember thinking it (a GT Zaskar) was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen... the fact that it actually looked fun to ride through the woods - totally blew my mind."
looking through a copy of mountain bike action pretty much sealed this far healthier addiction "It all looked cool and superhuman. The next day I stopped into the local bike shop... and ended up buying a Nishiki for like $200."
in the uk, most mountain bikers have the luxury of riding pretty much all year round. yes, it gets a bit muddier in the winter months, but for most, that's a major part of the attraction. cleveland, however is on america's east coast, on the shores of lake erie, and almost on the canadian border. the winters are rather colder than they are over here, so while mountain biking may be the ideal summer sport, it becomes a bit harder to continue in the winter months. that's what gave ray petro the idea to create an indoor mountain biking park, that would allow him and others to continue to ride all year round.
since offroad riding had completely undermined his previous alcohol and drug addictions, continuance of his new obsession held a greater degree of necessity than is probably the case for the rest of us. including those who flocked to this new-found indoor mtb recreation.
though the idea remained ever present, it took more than a brief period in time to find the ideal warehouse premises at a price that would make the whole project viable. suffice it to say that not only did he create the ideal indoor mountain bike park, but it made enough money to allow him the luxury of adding a second to his franchise, this time in milwaukee.
rays mtb indoor bike park isn't the lengthiest read i've come across, but it's every bit as addictive as the predilections of its principal subject. johnathan allen has a laconic, laid-back style of writing, one that serves his subject most appropriately. the prose is particularly fast-paced, with little in the way of unnecessary embellishment, providing as much in the way of social commentary, as it does in describing the singular mind and success of ray petro. there can be few books that open by describing a blatant disregard for the principal subject's well-being, yet end over 100 pages later with what can only be described as an overwhelming feel good factor.
if the chance presents itself, i'd suggest grabbing a copy of ray's mtb indoor bike park. the story of achievement is as pertinent to each and every one of us as it is to ray petro.
sunday 19 october 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................