Many people are not aware that Minnesota has a world class velodrome facility at the NSC Sports Center in Blaine. It is one out of only three outdoor wooden tracks that exist in the United States and it is made from African Afzelia wood to withstand the elements and ensure durability. It was modeled after the velodrome used in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, coming in at 250 meters long with 43 degree banking. Not all velodromes are the same and you will find them made from a variety of materials and with different degrees of banking.
Track cycling falls into two very broad categories of endurance and sprint events. It is extremely spectator friendly as fans can watch multiple types of race events run in a single night of racing and also see all of the race action at the same time. Racers ride a special bike with only a single gear that is fixed (no freewheel – no coasting) and no brakes.
NO brakes? Nope! Speed is modulated through strategic use of the banking and also through the riders’ legs.
Ready to try it out? You are in luck because several track classes are offered throughout the year, with the next set of sessions starting July 5th. You also have access to rental bikes at the velodrome so you do not have to buy a bike if you want to give it a try. Of course you didn’t think we just let anyone up there riding around 30mph without brakes… did you?
Not ready to ride but ready to watch? Check out the schedule here for Thursday Night Lights.