by Phillip Martin
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Bright lights, the smell of freshly cut wood and a smiling Mike Potoczny great you as you enter The Wheel Mill, Pittsburgh’s first indoor bike park located on Hamilton Ave in Homewood.
Danielle Spells, 25, of Homewood says, “I was walking around with my son James when I spotted the building and went in for a tour.” Cameron Grivin, 15, from Shaler says, “I just enjoy hanging out here with friends.”
Also visiting the park was Jake Young, 16, from Troy Hill. “I was told about the Wheel Mill by some friends. I love it here.”
These are some of the newest customers at the city’s new and only indoor bike park that caters to those who want to enjoy riding the mountain, jumps and obstacle courses that are available in the park.
Homewood has not seen much businesses growth, (a Cricket phone store opened last year) in the last twenty years.
Potoczny, 24, from Lawrenceville, graduated from Point Park University with a Masters Degree in History is an avid BMX bike rider. The name Wheel Mill comes from Pittsburgh, being known as a steel mill town. “It’s a play on words,” Potoczny says.
The park is open Monday-Friday from 2:00-10:00pm and 10:00-10:00 Saturday-Sunday. You can bring your own bike or rent one at the park. Rentals are $16.00 during weekdays, $23.0 on weekends. The park also offers a discount price of $14.00 for college students on Wednesdays. Prices do not include taxes.
You can access the park from the main roads that run through the community most notably, Hamilton Ave, Bennett St and Frankstown Ave.
Many PAT bus routes also run either right past the park including the 71D, 77s and 77L. Bus riders can also use the East Bus Way P1 or the 86 Liberty which lets you off about a block away, making it easily accessible to riders for other neighborhood residents and for the college community that many these buses serve.
Potoczny says that Harry Geyer (who was not available at the time of this interview) who owns Geyer Construction, began building the Wheel Mill in April 2012 in an old warehouse that was once used by the city of Pittsburgh’s public works department. According to Potoczny, Geyer designed the mountain bike courses.
“Geyer owns a fine wood shop across the street, he is trying to make Homewood a better place,” says Potoczny, who also donated many of the ramps used in the park.
The Wheel Mill has been up and running since April 2012. It features 7 bike courses. There is a jump park that is designed to mimic Pennsylvania’s many world class trails. There are MTB trails for beginners and experts that feature what are described as East Coast rocky to West Coast Mountain.
Potoczny says, “Geyer is an avid bike rider who envisioned a facility like this in Pittsburgh because of all the bike enthusiast that live here. Mr. Geyer also wanted to give the community, “a safe place to ride,” as there have been several car/bike related accidents in the neighborhood recently. “He also hopes to get the word out that the park is a place where you can bring your family and friends.
Grivin helps out around the park and was helping repair a bike that a customer brought in. “This place is sick.”
James says, “I get big air,” when riding on some of the jumps, that are plentiful inside the park.
The park can be rented out for parties. Danielle recently hosted a birthday party for her son. “I mostly stayed in the house and my son rode in the street, now I hope people come from all around to enjoy the Wheel Mill.”
Chaz Mann who lives in England, says, “I come to the city to visit my girlfriend, I love to ride and after I read the reviews, I decided to try the park out.”
“This place is real cool, awesome, Mann says.”
Some of the other obstacles include a pump track that builds endurance, astreet park for those who just want to ride around as if on a city street, an oval track and spin room.
For more information please call: 412-362-3693 or http://www.wheelmill.com
Phillip Martin is a student at Point Park University