Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
After setting its wheels to the pavement in the early 1930s, South Side Cyclery today operates three stores in the St. Louis area that cater to cycling enthusiasts, with two-wheeled steeds, tools, and accessories by brands such as Giant, Specialized, and Schwinn. The ride-wise staff at each location guides riders to new mountain, road, or children’s bikes suited to any size, skill level, or fear of unicyclists. Visitors peruse more than 800 bikes in stock, enjoying free on-site assembly before wheeling their new toy off the lot. New rides include complimentary adjustments for one year, whereas all services—including tune-ups, flat-tire fixes, and chest bumps on the way out the door—also carry a 90-day warranty.
Founded in 1973, Backwoods carries the latest collections of outdoor clothing and survival supplies for amateur earth explorers. Ascend summits in style with polyurethane-padded North Face gloves ($25), heavyweight fleece finger cocoons that keep digits dexterous in colder climates. The honeycomb construction of Patagonia Capilene 3 long-sleeve shirts ($32) draws swarms of sweat away from human hives, keeping men and women warmer, drier, and significantly less slippery than their perspiration-coated companions. Eagle Creek’s ultimate packing solution set ($29.99) gives adventure-seekers three ways to safely stow wrinkle-free wearables during their travels, none of which involves mounting an armoire on roller skates. Turn a walk in the park with Fido into a trip along the trails with a roamer leash ($24) to keep him close and a bivy bowl ($19) to satisfy his thirst for canine champagne.
The cycling enthusiasts at Big Shark Bicycle Company cultivate a collection of bike-related products, events, and classes to cater to cyclists of all levels. They host a variety of races and events including 15K races and group rides every Saturday. And, to help bikers train for such events, Big Shark Bicycle Company also offers classes covering topics such as cycling 101, how to dress for winter biking, and basic training for racing.
Hazelwood Bowl boasts 24 retro renovated bowling lanes and redesigned restaurant and bar areas for sporty entertainment and family fun. After wrangling a pair of bowling shoes, duos of 10-pin enthusiasts can perfect their arm swings with two hours on the lanes, complete with bumper bowling for youngsters and automatic scoring to keep abacuses fresh and ready for tallying UFO sightings (up to a $12 value/person). Then customers can head over to The Wood Bar & Grill to conquer worked up appetites with a St. Louis–style pizza with one topping, including Italian sausage, jalapeños, mushrooms, and more (an $8.95 value), all washed down with a pitcher of soda (a $4 value). Families of four and barbershop quartets can combine two Groupons for larger group frivolity.