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  • #41128

    francqlife
    Moderator

    It has been a long time since I’ve posted something long in the forum. So, with the snow outside, here is a story for all those who ever wondered about riding a velodrome during the winter.

    PROLOGUE:

    Let’s start the story here, with a video I took yesterday, of Scott taking a couple of laps of the 166m Lexus Velodrome in Detroit.

    Now let’s go back to the beginning.

    There are a few dozen of us at WCC who have been certified over the years to ride at Forest City Velodrome (London) and the Mattamy National Cycling Centre (Milton).
    Forest City Velodrome<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    WCC Cert at Milton Feb 1 2015<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    April was certified at Milton through their women’s group program. And I know a WCC group was recently certified via Mark at FCV. If you ever thought about it, just ask.

    There is even a Google Group that you can join called the “WCCTrackies” where we talk about track and organize trips to Velodromes.

    Kevin, Brent, Mark, Tom, Carolyn, Scott, Jeff & I are the regulars who ride at FCV and Milton as often as we can.

    I post this next picture only for the possibility that it might lead to some embarrassment on behalf of those involved.
    Gaelen Adam FCV Flying Start<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    INTRODUCTION

    I’ve been looking into the business of Velodromes over the past year and have been studying how they operate. Each has its own unique model and culture and each track has it’s own singular user experience.

    CHAPTER 1: FOREST CITY VELODROME (LONDON)

    We ride mostly at FCV. A 138M track, custom built into the old London Knights hockey arena in 2005 by Albert and Rob for a couple hundred grand. Money to pay for operations now comes from user fees, races and sponsors. They just started a GoFundMe page to help pay for a new PA system.

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    It’s mostly used to gets kids into cycling and for track racing. I took this video of the FCV VeloKids Program last week.

    This is the future of cycling.
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    These kids soon learn to ride in groups at FCV and how to race.
    1297774781846_ORIGINAL<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    Then they go to the “Big Show” in Milton to race other clubs.

    DQ-YIovX0AA9jAU.jpg-large<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    Here’s Quinn, Andrew, Amanda and Tyler to name a few of our best WCC riders. I hope the parents don’t mind posting this picture here. We certainly are proud of them and know of the effort and sacrifice the parents put into enabling them in the sport.

    DSC_0296-1024x685<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    Of course, our very own Chris Ernst (as well as Ryan A. and many other top riders) are a product of the FCV program. Here is Chris winning at Milton and he is now a coach at the KW Youth Cycling Academy. I know many of you send your kids to be coached by Chris & team, despite not having a velodrome in town.

    DRhK7JwW0AAmfUQ.jpg-large<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    In the meanwhile, we older kids can drive down to FCV and ride the track for fun. I created this video with a small GoPro Hero Session 5 mounted just under the stem, just before Christmas. It’s a bit long, but you get the idea…

    CHAPTER 2: MATTAMY NATIONAL CYCLING CENTRE (MILTON)

    This is a $60M, international 250m spruce track, built in 2015 for the Pan-Am games. It is owned by the City of Milton and has 3 basketball courts in the in-field and top-notch fitness facilities throughout the building to help offset the costs.

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    coVelodrome02.JPG<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    Brent, Kevin and I rode the Milton Velodrome last Friday. No GoPro, but here is Brent riding along one loooong corner, for comparison to FCV.

    There was also a Women’s Team Pursuit practicing. Man, were they fast. Or should I say, Women, they were fast! They were like a speeding freight-train going by. And then there was one dude who set a new track record for a flying lap. Guy did 250M in 10.7 seconds. I think he said he hit 71kph using a 54-14 gear.

    Oh…BTW, cost is $15 + tx for 2 hours.

    CHAPTER 3: LEXUS VELODROME (DETROIT)

    Mark Buckaway drove 8 of us down to the Detroit Velodrome yesterday and we met with the builder, Mr. Dale Hughes (centre). He’s built over 20 velodromes, including the Milton velodrome and the Olympic velodrome in Atlanta.

    IMG_0164<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    They reason we drove to Detroit, was that Dale just completed a fantastic new facility, called the Lexus Velodrome. He received a $5M private donation and has an agreement with the city on the land, in exchange for including a free public walking track under the drome (but around the outside of the cycling structure), as well as free riding for inner city kids.

    The dome itself, was $1.2M. Track and infield was $500K. Here are a few pictures, including the video above of our very own Scott Brubacher from the WCC, who lives in Wellesley, and won several Ontario Cup road races last year.
    https://observerxtra.com/2017/06/08/novice-racer-gets-gear-short-order/

    Here is a picture of the Air-Dome as soon as you enter the facility with the Track in the centre.

    IMG_0172<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    You can see that the track is a simple steel construction.

    IMG_0177<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    With 1 inch thick plywood planks (instead of individual Spruce boards). Note the small gap between the boards to allow for expansion. (Not noticeable when you rider over it)

    IMG_0176<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    The rental bikes are all hung from the structure.

    IMG_0175<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    Including kids push bikes.

    IMG_0190<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    There is an easy access viewing pathway along the outside at the top of the railing.

    IMG_0181<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    Here is a fun 180 degree “pano” I took looking down from the walking path.
    IMG_0185<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    A better perspective of the infield, in particular the café in the centre and the “lounge” areas for spectators, sponsors and social events.

    IMG_0187<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    To enter the velodrome, you walk down a set of stairs UNDERNEATH the track and come up in the infield.

    IMG_0199<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    EPILOGUE

    An inherent part of part of being a trackie, is that you have to travel to the places that your ride. And getting there…is half the adventure.

    Mark, Scott and I got up at 6am yesterday to meet at the Sobey’s parking lot to drive together to FCV in London. Of all the days to travel, yesterday was the worst. Blowing snow, 75kph in a single line of cars with 50% visibility. The best section of driving was getting stuck behind a line of snow plowers and salters.

    IMG_0069<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    We met with half a dozen other FCV riders and Mark volunteered to drive us all in the huge FCV Team van with our bikes, across the border.

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    After 4 hours of driving, we crossed The Ambassador Bridge. As we approached the Border Officer booth, everyone passed me their passports and I lined them up for the inspector. Mark rolled down the window and the conversation went like this…

    Officer: “Hello, where are you all from?”
    Mark: “Some from Waterloo and some from London.”

    Officer: “How do you all know each other?”
    Mark: “We’re all part of the same cycling club.”

    In my head, I’m thinking, you know…I don’t know any of these people, except Scott and Mark. I don’t even know the other people’s first names?

    Officer: “Cycling? What are you all doing here?”
    Mark: “We’re going to ride our bikes.”

    Officer: “Today?!? It’s cold and snowing?”
    Mark: “We’re going to the Velodrome.”

    Officer: “The what?”
    Mark: The Velodrome…indoor cycling.”

    Officer: “You’re going to ride inside?
    Mark: “Yes.”

    Officer: “In a circle???”
    Mark: “An oval.”

    Officer: “You’ve driven all this way, to go ride in a circle?”
    Mark: “It’s a brand new track and we wanted to try it out.”

    Officer: “Where is this track?”
    Mark: “It’s called the Lexus Velodrome.”

    The Patrol Officer looks it up on the internet.

    Officer: “What time is your session?”
    Mark: “noon”

    Officer: “How long will you ride?”
    Mark: “A few hours”

    Officer: “When are you coming back to Canada?”
    Mark: “Right after we are done.”

    Officer: “Do you mean to tell me, that you all have driven all the way from Waterloo and London in this weather, to ride your bicycles around a circle indoors for a few hours, and then drive back home, today?”
    Mark: “Yes.”

    At this point, people in the back burst out laughing. But the officer was dead serious.

    Officer: “Is this your vehicle, sir?”
    Mark: “No”

    Officer: “Who’s vehicle is it??”
    Mark: “A friend of ours”.

    The van is actually Rob Good’s van. For those of you who don’t know, Rob founded FCV, and was the Ontario Track Coach.

    Officer: “Vehicle Registration please”
    Alain: Shuffles through the glove compartment to find the registration.

    Officer: “Where is the owner, now?”
    Mark: [pauses…] “Saudi Arabia”

    [I’ll never forget the look on the officer’s face]

    Officer: “And what is he doing there?!?”
    Mark: “He’s the National Team Coach.”

    Officer: “…of the Canadian Team?
    Mark: “No…the Saudi National Team”.

    Officer: “Ok…I’m coming out to look in the back.”

    Mark can’t unlock the rear doors from the inside, so he gets out to use the key. All I can hear is the officer yelling, “I did NOT Tell you to get out of the vehicle, sir!”

    Mark opens the door and comes back in.

    And this is the part where you could sense everyone thinking…”Hmmm…maybe no Velodrome today?”

    The Officer opens the side doors and goes through each person and checks them against their passport.

    It probably only took 10 mins…but it felt like an eternity….then finally we were told to, “enjoy riding our bikes in a circle”. And we drove off.

    I later realized that she must have thought we were the most credible people to cross the border that day. Because if you were a Border Officer and started asking questions to determine if we were lying, and we came up with a story like that….

    We must be telling the truth.

    #41129

    Chris
    Participant

    Alain – If you are looking at bringing something like this to KW and need some NFP board support count me in. Would love to help.

    #41130

    Mark W
    Participant

    Great job as always. I really should get my butt in gear and go to FCV sometime this winter.

    Having something similar to the new Detroit velodrome would be amazing for the existing and potential cycling community in this area. It is amazing how little that facility cost.

    #41132

    bdoberst
    Participant

    Great summary of this emerging WCC passion for indoor circle riding Alain! I first rode the velodrome at FCV about 4 years ago, and I remember the distinct feeling of unease that I had as we arrived to do the very first Track 1 session. Having never ridden a fixie before, I recall thinking to myself “my goal for this two hour session is to get in at least one lap without falling”. Seriously. FCV’s 50+ degree corners looked pretty daunting to a cyclist who had never ridden a fixie before! But of course session leader Rob Good was an old hand at training newbies like me…within 15 minutes we were riding around the velodrome solo, and by the end of the 2 hour session we were already doing a loose paceline.

    Since then I’ve been out to FCV 40+ times and to Milton 15 times, and I find it’s a perfect antidote to those oh-so-boring winter trainer sessions. I personally use the velodrome to get in 1 or 2 weekly longer rides, and maintain some of my late summer endurance fitness. Last year Kevin and I both managed to get in a metric century at FCV during the 3 1/2 hour Saturday morning Rec Ride session. You’ll never catch me sitting on a trainer for 3 1/2 hours, but 725 laps at Forest City Velodrome? No problem…

    It’s great to see new velodromes popping up like the one in Detroit, and I’d love to see a WRV (Waterloo Region Velodrome) come to town. How many WCC members could we get coming out regularly if the drive to the velodrome was only 10 minutes? Could we get 50? 100? Half the membership? And how many kids and youth would come out to explore the relative safety of a velodrome vs. cycling on open roads? Whew…the sky’s the limit.

    Oh, and as for the “Doberstein slide”, that was a move perfected after making the rookie mistake of putting my cycling shoes on in the FCV dressing room. The fastest way to fall down on a velodrome track is to try to walk in cleats on a 25 degree slope, so I did the next best thing and slid down in my socks. Didn’t even get any splinters!

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