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Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013

Moving Summer Indoors

Winter is no barrier for mountain biking, rock climbing or golf

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Ray’s Mountain Bike Indoor Park
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Wisconsinites are well aware how precious and fleeting the warm months of the year can be. In the not-so-distant past, activities like mountain biking, rock climbing and golf could only be enjoyed if the weather cooperated. If you weren’t a fan of skiing or ice skating, it was a long, cold winter spent planning for the first sign of spring. Thankfully, there are now many options to keep summer activities going all year long.

 

“I Want to Ride My Bicycle”

Three years ago, Ray’s Mountain Bike Indoor Park opened in a former Menards. Located at 8365 N. 76th St., Ray’s attracts riders from all over the country as one of only two such indoor parks in the U.S. Open every year from the beginning of October to the end of April, mountain bike and BMX enthusiasts can keep their skills sharp while the outdoor trails are buried in snow. Ray’s welcoming, laidback vibe makes it easy to feel comfortable, whatever your level. Kids and beginners are encouraged to start out in the Novice Room where there are samples of the types of terrain you’ll face on the main floor. Features include a cross-country loop, beginner and expert sections, pump track, street park “Transferland,” jumps and, for the brave of heart, a foam pit for trick practice.

Keep in mind this is an indoor venue with lots of concrete, so helmets are required and pads are recommended (both provided by Ray’s if you don’t have your own). Admission is reasonable with a day of riding for $20.99 during the week or $26.99 on weekends. Take $5 off standard admission for kids 12 and under. For those looking to try it out without too much expense, admission drops to $12.99 on Sundays after 4 p.m. If you don’t own a suitable ride, a fleet of Trek mountain bikes and Mirraco BMX bikes are available for rent. More information can be found at raysmtb.com/mke.

 

“Climb Every Mountain”

Indoor rock climbing is great exercise for folks who like to get vertical. Two Milwaukee area venues fit the bill for climbers who want that gravity-defying rush of being 25 feet, or more, off the ground.

Adventure Rock Indoor Climbing Gym (21250 W. Capitol Drive, Pewaukee) has been around for almost 15 years. Open year round, they offer lots of classes for beginners who may feel more comfortable gaining experience with a “simulated” rock face. Basic to advanced, routes are marked across the walls with colorful hand and toe holds to follow depending on your level. Most of the climbing areas are sculpted to better reflect natural rock formations and the staff at Adventure Rock frequently change up the traverse routes to keep things interesting. A daily admission pass runs $15-18 and all of the necessary equipment, including shoes and harnesses, is available for a nominal rental fee. Find out more about Adventure Rock at adventurerock.com.

If you thought Turner Hall (1034 N. Fourth St.) was just a great place for a fish fry or a show, guess again. Tucked away in the basement is a facility featuring Turners Climbing Alliance’s indoor rock climbing gym. While not as spacious as Adventure Rock, Turner’s gym boasts 20 top rope climbs, traverse routes, a 55-foot slackline (for an additional fee) and two bouldering areas. There are also lots of classes and clinics for kids, beginners and those who want to refresh or refine their skills. A daily pass costs $9, plus reasonable fees for equipment rental. Visit milwaukeeturners.org and click on “Rock Climbing” for more information.

 

“Straight Down the Middle”

Few people get more down about seeing the snow fly than die-hard golfers. Many play late into autumn and are out on the green as soon as the course is clear in early spring. It’s the time in between when indoor golf venues really thrive.

The Milwaukee County Parks system tends many courses in summer, but directs off-season business to the Currie Park Golf Dome (3535 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa). Since 1996, this facility has been a favorite practice spot for area golfers. Updates to the structure are likely in the future, but it is still a great place to hit a few balls. Features of this indoor heated driving range include 33 hitting bays and a putting green. Rates are reasonable, running about $20 for an hour of hitting. Discounts for Milwaukee County residents, seniors and kids 17 and under are available. Visit curriegolfdome.com for further information.

For a “bells and whistles” indoor golf experience, check out the Wisconsin Indoor Golf Center (WIGC), W359 N5740 Brown St., Oconomowoc. Sand trap practice bunkers, chipping area, 20-foot-high-by-20-foot-deep hitting bays, golf simulators and a brand new putting green are among the features of this modern facility. Pricing for the simulator is $27 per hour, and you should generally plan for a two-hour game. All of the other features are free with a small ($6) or large ($8) bucket of balls. Go to wisconsinindoorgolfcenter.com for more information.

This represents just some of the places to experience summer sports year round. There are many local clubs and gyms that provide indoor opportunities for swimming, tennis, soccer and other traditionally outdoor sports.

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