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Bringing the mountain indoors

Cleveland: Steel, flats as far as the eye can see, great piles offactories, smoke curling into the sky, rivers cleaving their waythrough the mud.

Cleveland: Steel, flats as far as the eye can see, great piles of factories, smoke curling into the sky, rivers cleaving their way through the mud.

Not a lot to commend it to the uninitiated.

To the seasoned mountain biker however Cleveland is Mecca.

For here, in the industrial heartland of the Mid West is Ray’s Mountain Bike Park — the world’s biggest — 100,000 square feet of ramps, routes, drop offs and jumps.

A bike heaven built from an old parachute warehouse and a refuge in the winter months when riding outside is only for the insane.

Skate and BMX parks are pretty well established across Europe and the United States. But Ray’s is the first location to cater to all types of mountain bikers. Here, Lycra-clad cross-country folk share space with dirt jumpers and the facilities are built to test —and help you improve — your skills. There are technical rocky sections, places to practise your balance and a pit filled with foam for those keen to nail backflips without landing on wood or concrete.

Rock music blares out from the sound system and bike videos play on a loop on the big flat screen TV.

The routes, which are mainly made of wood, were born back in 2004 with an ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality and it’s thrived ever since.

Bikers travel from all over the world to ride at Ray’s because there’s nothing else like it.