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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Forest City Velodrome: A Night At The Races

London Ontario is blessed in that we've got one of only 4 indoor velodromes in all of North America. It isn't fancy, but it is very cool. The Rantwick family went out there last Saturday night to watch some racing. It was a very good time. There was some pretty darn good sprint racing:

There were kids and youth riders competing for their very first time, one (in yellow) as young as 9. As you'll hear, some instruction goes on during the race:

There were sprints, endurance, points and other races many of which I didn't know existed before now. The racers covered the whole spectrum from kids to young women to teenage boys to grey-haired veterans. The place had a great vibe, one of competition and support and encouragement all rolled together. The cost was $10 per adult and my kids got in free. We found it worth every penny. If you haven't attended a Race Night at the velodrome I encourage you to do so... I'm sure glad we did.

FCV is a not-for-profit organization that runs on grants, membership fees and race night earnings. If you live around London Ontario or are here for a visit, please check it out. I want this thing to flourish and be around for a long time, and it ain't cheap to heat an old hockey arena through the winter. I think non-cyclists might find it even more entertaining than those of us who ride all the time; who knows, maybe you'll catch the bug like I think I may have.

I was a little surprised at how scary the track looked with its 50 degree banks. FCV offers something called "Track 1", an introductory session where they train you up, rent you a bike, and give you a couple of hours of track time. Since I already know how to ride fixed gear, it would be a shame if I didn't try this out. When there is something as cool and rare as this right in my own city, how could I not?

I wonder if they would let me run a camera...

Yer Pal,



Big Oak said...

That is cool. I am envious! I lived for two years in Indianapolis back in the mid '80's. The Major Taylor Velodrome (outside) was just built, and there were races there every weekend in the warm weather months. The velodrome had a couple of open nights during the week and I took advantage of that. I was fortunate to learn some good bike handling skills there from some really good bikers.

To have an indoor velodrome, i.e., biking all winter, that is sweet! Of course I know you bike outside all winter. Just remember to take your studded tires off before you get on that hardwood!

Rat Trap Press said...

I used to take my family to watch the action at the Alkek Velodrome in Houston. It was a great. Me and my son took the two week development course together. You should give track racing a try. The short, fast races are a lot of fun.

RANTWICK said...

Big Oak - The yearly membership fees for recreational riding are really low... if I love it after Track 1, I may well sign up. I'm thinking dirty old Mutant Winter wouldn't even be allowed inside, let alone near the wood!

RTP - I have never raced on a bicycle. Perhaps one day when I've lost about 30 pounds...

Alexwarrior said...

Hey that's the place Rick Mercer visited on TV on the Rick Mercer report.

cafiend said...

If you like going anaerobic, you'll like the track.

Kokorozashi said...

OMG, that's awesome! The nearest velodrome to me is Major Taylor in Indy, which Big Oak mentioned -- I didn't even know indoor velodromes existed!

It's also really cool that they have things like the Track 1 class. As one of those crazy people who like going around in circles on bikes, I think track looks inherently fun, but I've always found it kind of intimidating. I mean, it's easy to train for road or 'cross, but to ride track you kind of have to have access to a track, LOL. Good to know they make that possible for n00bs.

Skyers said...

I am trying out "track 1" this weekend, just wondering if you ever went back after this post?

RANTWICK said...


Sorry, my life kept me away from the blog for a bit there. No, I haven't gone yet. That is awesome! Have you ridden fixed before? PLEASE let me know how it goes!

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