The Wheel Mill is a Stellar Indoor Bike Park in Pittsburgh

Last updated on November 1, 2021 by Jeremy

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You may know that we are avid bikers and explore our local Pittsburgh bike trails as much as possible. As we generally prefer flat rides, we haven’t really covered the area’s mountain biking trails to date.

Fortunately, I was able to visit The Wheel Mill as part of an event where I was able to learn the basics of mountain biking and apply them to the trails in Frick Park via a private lesson. In the process, I was also able to experience some of the insane BMX and mountain bike setups that this Homewood West site has to offer.

If you enjoy hitting ramps and jumps or just want to learn the basics of mountain biking, a trip to The Wheel Mill should be on your radar!

The Wheel Mill tracks are awesome

Before you get into The Wheel Mill, all you really know is that it’s a huge warehouse in Homewood West dedicated to everything mountain biking and BMX-related. But you don’t get an appreciation for the size of this space until you step inside and check out the rooms firsthand. I knew this one was big, but it was way bigger than I expected from the outside (and I didn’t even explore all of the rooms)!

During my brief exploration, I got to explore around five rooms full of ramps, obstacles, training devices, and even a monster foam pit that advanced bikers can launch into via a terrifying jump. Some of these were quite massive, others small and nuanced, but they’re all designed with different skill levels or interests in mind (conveniently, the building map is also coded much like a station would be. with green circles for beginners, blue squares for intermediate levels and black diamond for expert level skills).

Want to work on your BMX-style jumps via crazy-looking ramps? Woods’ vault has your name on it. Want to practice sharp turns or organized hikes on raised wooden platforms? The mountain bike technical room is made for you. Or if you’re like me and just getting started with mountain biking, the Fundamental Skills Room on the second floor is the place to be.

Foam Pit at The Wheel Mill in Pittsburgh

Compared to the items on the first floor, the items found in the Foundational Skill Room seem tame in comparison, but are necessary to prepare you for the more difficult items on the first level. Think of things like one foot high ramps where you can practice raising and lowering your body weight to accommodate the way your bike moves under you, tiny ramps where you can. jump off a ledge of about 12 inches, or long, narrow wooden paths where you can practice the bike in a straight line to name a few.

To reach (and later leave) this area you need to tackle a tight yaw ramp which is also useful for practicing turning at high speed, making a habit of moving your body around the bends to make it work. the sharp turn, dealing with huge slopes. , and regulating your speed as well.

Yes, I failed all of those things miserably on the way up, but I was also able to dramatically improve my skills on all of these introductory topics while downright taking a lesson in the Fundamental Skills Room. Not so much that I nailed it down on the descent, but we’ll just say I did better overall via my brief lesson.

Not ready to go mountain biking? Take a private lesson

ATV Lessons in Pittsburgh at The Wheel Mill

As someone with no mountain biking experience, the trails at The Wheel Mill felt incredibly intimidating on first arrival. Fortunately, however, I was able to take an introductory course to learn the basics of mountain biking in the Basic Skills Room.

This approximately 60 minute lesson really covered the basics of everything mountain biking and helped put some basic topics into perspective that I had never thought of before. Simple things like keeping your pedals parallel to the ground are obvious in retrospect – obstacles sticking out of the ground, like tree roots, can cut your pedal if it’s lowered and cause you to lose your balance or fall. Others were a bit more technical, like the fact that having your pedals parallel also helps maintain your body weight (whatever pedal you press tends to receive an uneven distribution of your weight. body). Again, when it comes to obstacles, minor missteps like these can quickly escalate into big problems.

It only took once of messing everything up on baby ramps to really see why they are so important, and it took me quite a bit of practice to start making these basic skills a habit – you just don’t have to worry about things like this when I cycle on rail tracks like we usually do and never would have learned anything without taking an introductory lesson like this.

Rick on the Run MTB
Our friend Rick on the run Mountain biking with The Wheel Mill at Frick Park.

After this lesson, we moved on to our second private lesson of the day to apply what we learned on the mountain bike trails at Frick Park, a short drive away. Outdoor classes here are a bit more expensive than indoor classes (mainly because they’re about twice as long) but are a good way to apply the skills you’re working on in a real environment. I found myself thinking about the pedal position when riding over tree roots, shifting my body weight when going up on slight changes in incline, and working on incorporating my whole body movement. to take those sharp turns as we trained up the facility’s lace-up ramp.

Overall not a bad outing all things considered, and the fact that I didn’t fall once is a testament to our guide’s help in these lessons – although I still wasn’t enough brave to cycle down cement stairs. I leave that to professionals and to those who have better health insurance than me.

For those who wish to take classes at The Wheel Mill, the sky is truly the limit for what you can work on here. As these are often private in nature, you can work with your instructor on the skills you need to improve the most. Whether it’s learning how to overcome basic obstacles on a mountain bike (like in my case) advanced rides, BMX biking, jumps or more, The Wheel Mill team can cover a range of levels from competence – much well beyond where I will probably go (unfortunately).

For what it’s worth, the wealth of activities and lessons available at The Wheel Mill far exceeded my expectations. As such, this place is quite accessible for those who just want to get started with mountain biking or BMX or for those who have been doing it for years and just want a place to relax. I hope to come back someday soon for more technical rides, but don’t count on me to jump anytime soon.

The wheel mill is located at 6815 Hamilton Avenue in Homewood West. I was the guest of The Wheel Mill when I visited for a separate event. As always, all opinions are my own.

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