It's called The Bakery, but the only things likely to be cooked up in this Pilsen art loft-turned-BMX course are grinds, flips, wheelies and the kind of creative bike tricks usually reserved for YouTube.
Tired of dealing with schizophrenic Chicago weather and waiting for the perfect conditions to ride, professional BMX biker and X Games medalist Brian Kachinsky originally created The Bakery in 2011 to act as his own practice space for street biking.
"A lot of street biking is illegal, so I also had to deal with getting kicked out of spots by the police," said Kachinsky, 31, of Pilsen. "So I just wanted to eliminate having to worry about anything that might hamper progression. The Bakery was meant to be a 24-hour a day, 365-day-a-year place where I didn't have to worry about a security guard chasing you away from the handrail."
But Kachinsky's personal playland has morphed into a world-class indoor bike park. More specifically, The Bakery, which opens the doors to its newly expanded facility Wednesday evening, is like a VIP-only bike club whose rails and ramps are reserved for top professional BMXers and a who's who of Chicago stunt cyclists.
"We get some of the best riders around the world who come here to practice and shoot videos," Kachinsky said. "There's guys from other countries who've never been to the U.S. before but want to come to Chicago to ride The Bakery."
Chicago-based pro BMXer Kevin Porter called the invitation to use The Bakery a privilege.
"Everyone wants to ride The Bakery in BMX; getting asked to be part of it is rare," said Porter, 31, of Ukrainian Village. "It's not an elitist thing, it's just if you work hard enough in this sport, you get the ability to do this."
The waiting list for those itching to use The Bakery is likely to grow now that it's changed locations and been rebuilt from the ground up. The original Bakery was housed in a beat-up former bread factory in Englewood (hence the name) until the building was condemned in late 2012, Kachinsky said. He then opted for a move to Pilsen's art district for The Bakery 2.0.
"We were due for a change and update, and I'd been to Lacuna Lofts before," he said. "It's a building that has so much creativity under one roof; it's one of those hubs for everything cool in Chicago."
With the help of expert ramp builder Aaron Bostrom and a dozen of his BMX-obsessed friends, Kachinsky ripped up the old ramps and transported some of them to the new building. He also constructed original features including a staircase, a faux cellar door and other ramps that can be moved into numerous setups.
"It allows for the rider to be creative on his bike and use this place as his canvas," Kachinsky said. "He can express himself through the tricks he does, but also the way he moves things and sets up."
As a tribute to Chicago and the CTA, The Bakery also features a series of colorful handrails painted in the colors of "L" lines.
The new and improved Bakery better represents Chicago as a classy city, Porter said.
"It's kind of like a diamond to a rock," he said. "The last [Bakery] was really raw, the building was dodgy. This place is in a huge art loft, there's TVs and track lighting in the ramps. It's a better fit, for sure."
Even though The Bakery won't be open to the public, Kachinsky believes its existence puts Chicago on the map for action sports as a whole.
"It's not a big BMX hotbed, but the potential here is endless," he said. "And if we're not riding here, we might go to one of the public skate parks in Chicago and now the kids can see Corey Martinez or Ben Lewis or one of their favorite pros who might not come to Chicago otherwise."
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.
What: A public party for the grand opening of The Bakery, a facility for BMX riders
Where: 2150 S. Canalport Ave., north entrance
When: 6-9 p.m. Wednesday
Cost: Free; no RSVP necessary
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