They're rollin' at Homewood bike playground

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

On a day like today, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to bicycle or do anything indoors, but there are all kinds of days and all kinds of bicyclists ... and now, there’s The Wheel Mill.
The indoor bike park opened on April 12, and mountain bikers, BMX racers and free-stylists are already flocking. It was Harry Geyer’s dream, the first indoor bicycling playground in the state, at 6815 Hamilton Ave., and one of not even a handful in the eastern part of this country. 
Harry, an aficionado who also owns a construction company, began wrestling the 80,000 square-foot former fabricating plant into shape with the help of hundreds of biking enthusiast volunteers over the past year. 
He said about 60 percent of the space is completed and that  crews will continue to build out with a goal of having both floors finished by September.
“We’ve had tons of people from all over the East Coast,” he said. “There’s a huge mountain biking community in Maryland and we’re getting people from there.”
wheelmillkidsThere aren't many indoor bicycling parks in the country but among them most close in the summer. The Wheel Mill will be open all summer.
The Wheel Mill got a loan of $150,000 from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and Harry and his wife Sheila, devoted a chunk of their own money toward this venture.
The URA’s Rochelle Lilien, senior business development specialist, is quoted in the URA newsletter: “Harry was great to work with, and his vision and unique concept were refreshing. This is exactly the type of deal the URA loves to get involved in. We used our PBGF [Pittsburgh Business Growth Fund] loan funds to finance the gap to make this project work. The result was the re-use of a large vacant warehouse in Homewood, one of our targeted City neighborhoods, adding brand new life to the street!”
Harry said Saturday afternoons are the busiest time, “and anytime it’s raining.”
Photos by Brian Yeagle. Top: Mike Potoczny, a designer and building helper at the Wheel Mill, goes airborne at the Wheel Mill. Bottom: Nathan and Lucas Halahan

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