The Wheel Mill is an indoor bicycle park. It is located inside an 80,000 sq ft building over an entire city block. The bicycle park serves primarily mountain bikers and BMX bikers through a system of trails, jumps, and ramps of varied difficulty. If you are able to simply pedal a bike around, then you can definitely enjoy riding at The Wheel Mill.
I decided to start this business eight years ago after riding in a similar park in a former parachute factory in Cleveland, OH. Pittsburgh had a supply of rust belt buildings and a much larger mountain bike population, so it seemed only natural to build a park here. It took the next five years to find a suitable location, as I learned that most of the old steel mills and factories here are in special economic zones that do not allow for recreational use. The park operates similarly to a ski resort where you can purchase a day pass or a season ticket. You can bring your own bike, or we can provide you with a rental, and we have courses from “bunny slope” beginner sections all the way up to black diamond expert sections. We also provide group and private lessons, birthday party packages, and host special events.
One of my primary goals in creating The Wheel Mill was to establish the park as a hub of cycling culture. Throughout the past few years we have hosted fundraising events for local nonprofit cycling groups and other nonprofits, such as BikePgh, Trail Pittsburgh, and the Rickey Bates Memorial Fund. We have also partnered with Bike Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and we have donated our materials, our professional designers/builders, and video production equipment. Also, we have partnered with public schools for summer camps and sponsored local youth riders for private camps.
We are located in Homewood, a low-income neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh. If you read the comments following some of the local newspaper blogs we have been featured in, you will see that this neighborhood is underserved and some questioned us locating here, but we think we can help the neighborhood to receive more positive press. Our goal is to run a profitable business and bring at least 30,000 visitors a year into the neighborhood, while continuing to partner with the nonprofit community to bring riding opportunities to everyone regardless of economic status.