DiscoverSYR: CranX Bike and Sports Park
By Nick Toney
In the middle of the berm trails and big-air jumps, Dale Cruce kneels with his mouth ajar, marveling at the arc shaped by the specialized plywood that forms the second turn. Ride it, and for a split-but-blissful second, you'll feel like the bike is guiding you — when it's usually the other way around. No matter how many times they launch themselves off those jumps and land with loud, violent thuds, Cruce's beanie-wearing brethren can't snap him out of his reverie in the middle of the biking cathedral that he owns: CranX Bike and Sports Park.
Big air is amazing — sometimes amazing enough to induce vertigo — but CranX is more than just jumps. The park contains six separate but equally inimitable sections. An indoor BMX park trails outdoors, when weather permits, to three more acres of biking delight. A wooden pump pit cradles tricks and grinds. A road course weaves seamlessly around the gigantic wooden jumps and trails. An elevated bridge-like cross-country trail snakes around the top of the warehouse, giving a bird’s-eye view of the park. A runway leads to a ramp that steers to a foam pit. And finally, the meandering berm trail that features Cruce's favorite turn.
Like that turn, CranX stands out by being simultaneously simple and unique. Cruce, a Syracuse native, first conceptualized the park as a place where riders could escape a Central New York winter to bike, weather be damned. That simple idea brought Cruce to a run-down warehouse two miles off of the New York State Thruway in DeWitt, at 6341 Thompson Road. Others would've called the property a decrepit victim of the 2008 recession worthy of a wrecking ball. Cruce and his team, however, saw potential in the over 90,000-square-foot property that its previous owners didn't: an expansive, naturally-lit biking space with high ceilings perfect for skyscraping jumps.
Only three American parks match CranX in sheer size alone, and none offer the unique combination of trails that Cruce’s park does. Cruce spent half a million dollars on lumber and plywood to construct his monument to biking. But in his eyes, that spot at the top of the berm trails — the one he practically prays to — is priceless. “There’s no angle like this in any park in the United States,” Cruce says with reverence. “It’s beautiful.”