All About Indoor Riding at Ottawa's The Yard
In this week's Community Highlight segment, we'll introduce you to Ottawa's The Yard indoor skatepark and pump track, through a Q&A style interview with its founder and owner, Anthony Bereznai! The Yard is located near Lebreton Flats, just off of Albert st., and offers an indoor riding haven for mountain bikers, BMXers, skateboarders, and scooter enthusiasts alike.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
- "My name is Anthony Bereznai, I'm married with 4 kids between the ages of 9 and 18. I've been a mountain biking nerd for about 30 years and the whole family is avid cyclists. I have a full-time job doing management consulting and also am the owner of The Yard, Ottawa's Indoor Bike and Skatepark."
When did The Yard open in Ottawa?
- "We opened to the public in the middle of February 2019."
Can you tell me more about the services The Yard offers and its aims?
- "Our aim at The Yard is to offer a safe, inclusive space for the Ottawa/Gatineau community to enjoy indoor park riding. We offer a number of services, including:
- General admissions so people can have fun, practice and get exercise at their own pace;
- Memberships - we have a bunch of different options to make it more affordable for customers who want to come more than once a month;
- Group lessons for beginner and intermediate levels for our core disciplines of skateboarding, scootering and biking."
Are there any other programs or events run by The Yard?
- "Before COVID, we ran a few contests that were popular but we had to put them on hold since the pandemic hit.. We've partnered with a number of groups to run special programing, including:
- Girls 613+ to run some girls/women's only nights at for "pay what you can" rates;
- Ausome Ottawa, running skateboard lessons for Autistic kids;
- Ecole Catholique, who running a class during the day that includes time in the park; and,
- Most recently we've been working with one of the kids who came to The Yard when we first opened but had to stop coming when he was diagnosed with cancer and lost his sight. Now that his health permits activity, we've been working on lessons to get him skating again. With input from CNIB in Calgary, who have been working with visually impaired skaters, and some great collaboration between the skater and our teaching staff he's made great strides and is loving being back in The Yard and improving on his board."
Is The Yard appropriate for mountain bikers or is it just for skateboarders and BMX riders?
- "Yes, it's appropriate for mountain bikers! We built The Yard so it would have something for just about everyone. We have 4 main sections of the park: the Pump/Jump Track, Vert Section, Bowl and Street Section. For most mountain bikers, the Pump/Jump track will be of most interest. It includes a central loop which is just bumps and allows a rider to work on their balance, pumping and berm skills. It's also super fun and a surprisingly demanding workout. Improving on a pump track has huge carry-over to trail riding. The external loop has 4 jumps that gradually increase in size and these are amazing to learn how to jump, which can be intimidating at first but is crazy fun and also has a lot of carry over to trail riding. I'm almost 50 with no background in jumping bikes (despite decades of MTB riding) and I've finally learned how to jump by practicing at The Yard. My style has a way to go but it's slowly coming."
- "For riding, you can use a mountain bike but we suggest a few adjustments to improve the experience. Pump up your tires nice and hard. At least 30psi+. You'll roll better and then we don't end up with sealant all over the place. Increase the pressure and/or lock out suspension and drop the seat all the way down. Even better than a standard MTB is using a dedicated dirt jumper MTB or a BMX bike. If you don't have a BMX background, the dirt jumper will feel more natural for most mountain bikers than a BMX bike. While not necessary, a true park bike is the right tool for the job as they are faster, more maneuverable as well as easier to pump and jump. For those who don't own a DJ or BMX, we have rentals available."
- "The other sections of the park can be ridden on a bike but won't appeal to the typical trail rider. The vert section is a great step-up once a rider has mastered the jumps on the pump track as the box jump is bigger. This would be ideal for the rider who wants to hit bigger jumps in bike parks in the area or wants to go to Whistler and ride A-line. The bowl and street section are geared more for skateboards and scooters but our really skilled BMX and dirt jumper riders enjoy these areas as well."
What additional gear do I need to bring with me?
- "Helmets are mandatory and regular MTB or road helmets are fine. Gloves, knee and elbow pads aren't a bad idea, especially if you are just learning. I'm a big fan of using flat pedals in the park. If your flat pedals have aggressive pins and/or you are still getting used to flats, shin pads are a good idea as well.."
How can I access The Yard's services? (i.e., drop-in, lesson registration etc.)
- "The best way to access our services is through our website, theyardottawa.com. Almost all our services are available there and we are actively working to add missing services, like private lessons and birthday parties, to our website. While it's possible to drop-in to use our facilities, we do have capacity limits so it's best to book online to guarantee a spot. With the weather getting colder by the day, the park is getting busier and busier making it risky to just show up hoping we have space."
What COVID protocols should I be aware of before coming to The Yard?
- "We are following all provincial COVID-19 guidelines and will continue to do so as the rules evolve. The Yard falls under indoor recreation so we need proof of double vaccination for anyone who is eligible before they can enter the park. Under the current rules, kids under 12 can still use the park without vaccination. We are also requiring our customers to wear a mask while in the park. We mandated mask use very early in the pandemic, along with all the other protocols that are now commonplace, and to the best of our knowledge there has never been a transmission of COVID-19 through the park."