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Louisville Mega Caves – America’s First Underground Mountain Bike Course

Mega Underground Bike Park is a one-of-a-kind underground bike trail in Louisville, Kentucky. Spanning 320.000 square feet, with over 45 trails, Jump Lines, Pump Tracks, BMX, Cross Country and Single Track, the park is entirely located 100 feet or 10 stories below the ground!

The bike park is one of the many attractions at Louisville Mega Cavern, a man-made, privately-owned limestone cavern that encompasses an area of 100 acres beneath the streets of Louisville. Founded by Ralph Rogers in the 1930s, the cavern is currently used as a business park, entertainment center, and tourist attraction.

All set for a soft opening in early February, the bike park will be the nation’s first underground mountain bike course, and the largest indoor park ever built. In fact, it is nearly twice the size of America’s current largest indoor park – Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Photo: YouTube caption

“This is the all-time best thing that has ever happened to cycling in Louisville,” said Derek Fetko, owner of On Your Left Cycles in the Highlands. “When it’s finished, this park is going to go a long way to help the Louisville mountain biking community become more competitive in the racing world. I am completely blown away that Louisville is getting something this amazing.”

The park was designed by professional cycling competitor Joe Prisel, who has also been involved in the design and construction of 20 other parks around the world. “When they first approached me, my first thought was, ‘How are we going to fit this inside a cave?’” he said. “But then I saw how huge the caverns were with their 90-ft ceilings. It’s so big, it feels like you’re outdoors. I realized that this is such an open canvas that we are able to build exactly what we’d construct in a huge space outdoors.”

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Photo: Mega Cavern

Once they started adding trails and jumps, Prisel and Mega Cavern co-owner Jim Lowry invited riders of varying abilities to use the course and provide feedback. And at the suggestion of one rider, they made the cross country trails large enough that an adult and child could ride side-by-side, to make it more family-friendly.

After a ride through the park, Louisville Bicycle Club president Andy Murphy said: “I feel like this park is going to make Louisville an even bigger bicycling destination.”

“The jumps are incredible, and there isn’t any wind down here, which is really cool,” Fetko added.

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Photo: Mega Cavern

The absence of wind means that riders who work on tricks needn’t adjust for the resistance. Another advantage is the constant, 60-degree temperature and dry atmosphere all year round, which is perfect for cycling.

Just like a ski resort, the bike park will feature signs in green, blue and black, indicating beginner, intermediate and expert trails. “Safety is a huge focus of my design, and I am constantly thinking about how to move 500 or more riders from one area of the park to another safely and without getting in each other’s way,” Prisel said.

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Photo: Mega Cavern

He also revealed that the park will allow mountain bike and BMX riders to progress. “It will have a lot of stuff that everybody can ride, from the very beginner on the completely flat cross country trails, to the advanced beginner areas with gentle rolling hills,” Prisel explained.

For intermediate riders, the trail will feature small jumps and technical areas where riders can practice skills like balance, while pedalling the top of short rock walls. And for the professionals, there are big jumps and a pump track, where speed and gravity can be used to navigate the course, rather than pedalling.

 

The cavern’s sheer size and the amount of dirt used in the project will ensure plenty of elevation, which will make it seem more like riding a mountain course, rather than a simple bike park. “Think about riding or skiing down a mountain,” said Lowry. “You don’t go speeding straight down, you go back and forth, over bumps and smooth sections. You are moving fast at some points and more slowly at others.”

Riders are welcome to bring their own bicycles, or rent one at the park. The place will offer a range of BMX, mountain and electric bikes, along with safety equipment such as knee and elbow pads and helmets.

 

The Mega Cavern was opened in the 1930s as a limestone mine, and the structure in its present form was created after mining for 24 hours a day, 42 years straight. Today, the massive cavern measures four million square feet in area with over 17 miles of passageways. It is considered to be the largest construction in the state of Kentucky.

While the details of the bike park are being ironed out, visitors can expect all-day ($40)  and four-hour ($24) passes. In addition to the Mega Underground Bike Park, the cavern features other attractions such as Mega Zips – the world’s largest underground zipline, Mega Quest – the only fully underground aerial ropes challenge course in the world, and Mega Events – fun activities for all ages in a fully equipped event space.

Sources: The Courier Journal, Bike Rumor, Men’s Journal