“I’m a believer in fate,” says Seth Fischer. “This space is far superior to any other location we could have found.” As co-owner and manager of CranX (pronounced “cranks”), a 58,000-square-foot bike and sports park in Syracuse, Fischer has every reason to be optimistic. Opened to the public in March 2012, the facility has seen more than 5,000 unique visitors in its first year of operation.
CranX is located in an unassuming warehouse minutes from the Interstate. To see the space in person is to be converted. The park is an intricate labyrinth of interweaving jumps and corkscrews, bowls and berms – a monument to adrenaline-fueled biking enthusiasts the world over.
Constructed by Jeremy Witek of Global Action Sports Solutions, CranX boasts some of the most awe-inspiring features of any indoor complex. “We have the most linear feet of trail line and the longest indoor jump line of any park in North America,” says Fischer.
Dale Cruce, who first had the idea for CranX more than a decade ago, concurs. “The jump line is our crown jewel,” he says.
From vision to reality
Cruce first met Fischer, an attorney with Hill & Fischer, P.C., when he was searching for property to develop. Fischer was drawn to his client’s enthusiasm, and they soon became business partners. “Dale has amazing charisma,” Fischer says. The combination of Cruce’s biking know-how and Fischer’s real estate acumen led to the facility’s construction.
CranX enlisted the aid of an army of volunteers to see the project to fruition. “This wouldn’t have happened without them,” says Fischer. Sponsors including Red Bull, Haro, Fox, Shadow, Strider and Subrosa also played key roles. “The response [from sponsors] has been amazing,” says Cruce. “We never could have predicted this much so soon.”
The park, which caters to BMX, mountain bike, cross country and hybrid aficionados, is equipped with the latest in modern convenience. There is a cyclery where customers can purchase parts and accessories, a party room and pump track. The “Bird’s Nest,” an upstairs lounge where riders can kick back and relax, looks out over a bowl designed by industry stalwart Ron Kimler.
Dan Tucker, an avid mountain biker who’s been frequenting CranX since it first opened, was taken by the park’s grandeur. “They’re not afraid to think big,” he says.
There are three lines, organized by color, that resemble a modern ski slope – green for beginner, blue for intermediate and black for advanced. The park features an urban motif, with colorful splashes of graffiti at every turn. CranX is also equipped with a foam pit, one of the more unique attributes of any indoor park. Here, riders can practice tricks without fear of injury, plunging into a cushioned bed of rectangular blocks.
Patrick Armstrong visits the park multiple times a week. “CranX has something for everyone,” he says.
CranX is also known for hosting annual “jams,” or gatherings of like-minded biking enthusiasts. These are congenial affairs. “It’s as much social as it is competitive,” Cruce says.
Positioned next to almost four acres of open field and new growth forest, CranX will open an outdoor portion of the park this June. The first phase will include a BMX racetrack – complete with jumps – and a series of winding trails. In the summer, riders can transition between the indoor and outdoor areas of the park with ease. “Our focus has always been on accessibility,” says Fischer.
From the beginning, CranX has placed an emphasis on youth and family programming. Although males in their teens, 20s and 30s comprise the business’s core demographic, CranX offers a number of camps (see sidebar), as well as after school and instructional programs for children of all ages.
“All of our coaches and instructors have at least 10 years of riding experience,” says Fischer, “and many are competitors in BMX or mountain bike arenas.” For adults, the park also specializes in group and corporate packages. Special discounts and offers are available throughout the week.
Thanks to the growing popularity of the X Games, biking has now become an international phenomenon. “Kids are no longer satisfied with mundane forms of entertainment,” says Fischer. “They want to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.”
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
As Pearl Jam’s song “Corduroy” pours from the house speakers at CranX Bike and Sports Park, co-owner Dale Cruce ruminates on the state of his organization’s summer program. “We already have three times the enrollment we had last year,” he says with a smile.
This summer, CranX will offer nine weeks of programming beginning July 1 for youth up to age 15. Parents may enroll their children in one of three “rides,” from introductory to more performance-oriented programs. Topics covered will include bike maintenance, park etiquette, skills and tricks. All participants are required to sign a waiver, and parents and guardians of children 12 and under must stay on site. For more information about CranX, visit cranx.com or call 315-214-5346.
by Jon Ulrich