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Velodrome will offer track racing close to home
By Lyla D. Hamilton
BOULDER – After almost two decades of plans, proposals, setbacks and frustrations, what cycling enthusiast John Suchsland described as “the purest form of bike racing” will soon arrive in Boulder.
In a refurbished warehouse at 3550 Frontier Ave., Boulder Indoor Cycling Inc. is constructing the area’s first velodrome, a 142-meter-long oval arena for track cycling. Suchsland, a member of the GS Boulder Cycling Club, anticipates that the new facility will be a magnet for recreational cyclists in the area.
Track riding offers new challenges, even for experienced mountain bikers and road racers. Track bikes have a fixed gear and no brakes.
“There’s no freewheeling,” Suchsland said. “You have to keep pedaling or the pedal will come around anyway and catapult you into the air.”
Until now, the nearest facility for track cycling has been at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. That velodrome is outdoors, so weather limits the riding season.
“Track riding is an adrenaline sport,” Suchsland said. “It’s difficult to drive there, get pumped up to race and then drive home again.”
Ken Rodriguez, president of the Colorado Velodrome Association, suggested that novices might find the small, steeply banked track of Boulder’s velodrome intimidating.
He encouraged them to take up the challenge.
Photo: Christopher Campbell
“People won’t know until they’re on the track that riding in a velodrome will make them better road cyclists,” he said. “You either go hard, or you’re off the track.”
The association administers local races at the 333-meter-long velodrome in Colorado Springs. Rodriguez said the new Boulder facility complements that venue.
“More people participating in the sport means new contenders and better competitions,” he said.
In an e-mail message, he added, “I’m looking forward to riding on this new track. And in the winter, too.”
Rodrigo Garcia leads Boulder Indoor Cycling, drawing on five years of experience as owner and general manager of Boulder Indoor Soccer. The 25,000-square-foot velodrome offers mountain biking as well as track cycling, with programs for children, youth and adults. Intermediate and advanced mountain-biking circuits will be in the velodrome’s infield. Beginning circuits will be outdoors.
The velodrome’s revenue sources include membership, class and racing fees, as well as facility rentals for corporate and private events. Like other sports arenas, the velodrome sells naming rights for various areas. Plans are in the works for a cafŽ serving beer and wine.
Marketing to cyclists is already under way. The velodrome has a mailing list of 3,000. Its Web site gets approximately 85,000 visits per month.
“The cycling community here is tight,” Garcia said. “Nearly everyone has stopped by to see the velodrome.”
In its first year, Garcia said, Boulder Indoor Cycling will generate $100,000 in revenues and achieve profitability. When operating at 75 percent to 80 percent of capacity, it will show a profit of $150,000 to $200,000.
Funding for the venture came from friends and family and totaled about $200,000.
Boulder Indoor Cycling currently has three employees and expects to add staff upon its official opening.
In keeping with the Boulder milieu, Boulder Indoor Cycling strives to be a green business. Approximately 60 percent of the materials used in the velodrome’s construction are recycled.
Jason Williams, director of sales and marketing at Sports Garage, a Boulder bicycle shop, is excited about the prospect of a velodrome in the area but maintains a “wait-and-see” attitude because of the numerous failed efforts in the past.
Others, he noted, have attempted to build Olympic-size outdoor velodromes on public lands. They encountered logistics challenges, as well as problems with voter acceptance.
While the new velodrome is smaller and privately funded “It could be tough to attract new riders,” Williams said.
He suggested that the University of Colorado at Boulder student population might be a good place to start.
“Track bikes are simple and relatively inexpensive, and they’re already popular on campus,” he said.
Riding them around town, a practice he would not recommend for bikes that lack brakes, “is something of a counter-culture cycling trend.”
Williams can envision teams or groups of college-aged friends taking advantage of the velodrome.