Track Cycling: We have a what? NSC Velodrome in Blaine, MN: By Nicole

Photo By: Tom McGoldrick

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.

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2 Responses to Track Cycling: We have a what? NSC Velodrome in Blaine, MN: By Nicole

  1. Reuben says:

    I’ve always wanted to try this thing out – but the whole “do 100% or GTFO” approach taken by NSC has always been a turn-off. I don’t really want to rent a bike or take a class, and I really don’t care if i’m doing it “right.” If it was a pay $10 and bring your 10-speed kind of thing, I’d be there in a minute!

    I understand that they have an expensive facility and don’t just want any kind of schlubs riding around on it on ways that will damage it – and they don’t want to be liable if someone hurts themselves. I’m just saying that they way they’ve got it structured really keeps newbies out – if you even want to think about trying it out, you’ve got to be invested several hundreds of dollars ($80 for the intro class, plus you gotta bring your own shoes and pedals, and I assume your own shorts, whatever those are…)

  2. Nic says:

    The intro class is to make everyone else safer, not just yourself. The payment does cover 4 classes, your equipment, a qualified instructor and the facility fees. Since the track is so steep, there is a higher probability of pedal strike, which would only increase using a road bike which does not usually have a high bottom bracket. If you contact the NSC Velodrome, they can discuss pedal options with you, since they do lend out strap retention system. You can wear whatever clothing you want as long as it won’t get caught in your drivetrain.

    You can get a taste of the velodrome at other individual race events throughout the year:

    1. Developmental Time Trial nights. The remaining ones this year are
    July 6 and July 27 at 7 PM. It’s $5 to race, $5 to rent a track bike,
    or bring your road bike.
    2. State Timed Events. Same deal except it’s $20. Aug 6, 5 PM,
    rain-out date Aug 7. USAC license required ($10 one-day). Rent a track
    bike or bring the road bike.
    3. Tuesday crits at the track. No previous track experience needed. Flyer here: No road
    bikes allowed.

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