While scrolling through the worldwide web today, I came across some news that DC was getting its own velodrome this year. Imagine that, our very own wooden track to ride in circles on! This will be a temporary facility that will give way in a few years to a larger – possibly enclosed – track.
Once upon a time when America had very few paved roads, velodromes were indispensible for anyone wishing to cycle more than a few miles. I have written on the tremendous influence of velodromes on cycling in the first three decades of the 20th Century, especially in America. After boxing, professional cycling was our most popular sport and it all occurred in velodromes.
So from a historical perspective, I think having a velodrome in town would be cool. However, I can’t help but notice that we have considerably more paved roads than 100 years ago. I suppose it would be nice not to share it with crazed motorists. My fear is that sharing a velodrome with crazed cyclists may be equally dangerous. I guess it might be fun to see some low-level semi-pros race each other, but the seating capacity for this place is expected to be about 60. It won’t be a very raucous crowd, I don’t think.
I read about other cities with velodromes and some of the people who stop by for some pedaling. It all seems quite casual, as if people say, “I think I’ll zip over to the velodrome for a spin today.” I’m still not quite clear how this works. The DC Velodrome website has information about youth leagues, a pro series, and some details about coaches being available for adults. References to appointments are made. I don’t want a coach and I don’t want an appointment. I just want to show up and ride my bike on banked curves until I get bored. Then I want to go home. I suppose that isn’t very realistic.
I can only imagine what this will cost. Probably too much. That and the fact that it is about 30 miles from home will preclude my regular use. I’ll probably stop by one time just to sample it. It should be an amusing story, at the least!