Who is Dean Alleger and why is he so passionate about getting a track built in the Sacramento region? Back in January of 2011, Dean had written a blogpost about his thoughts on the Sacramento Valley Velodrome Project. He went into detail about how he got his start as a cyclist and gravitated toward track racing. Dean’s personal qualifications include being a USA Cycling Level 2 coach; which includes 3 separate weeks of training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He’s been a professional bicycle mechanic for 8 years. Athletically, he has raced a multitude of disciplines that include the track, BMX, criteriums and ultra-endurance road events.
What got you into track racing?
Back in 2003 he was inspired by the urban culture of bike messengers and fixed gear bikes and decided to get one of those ‘goofy’ bikes. He had heard that they were simple to maintain and easy to lock up while traveling about. He had heard the old school axiom that you should ride your first 1,000 miles or so of the off season (which generally begins in September for most cyclists) on a track bike. The reasoning behind this belief is based on the suppleness one develops riding a fixed gear bicycle rather than one with gears where coasting is allowed. A few short years later, his friend and now local dominating Elite bike racer, Mary Maroon, started racing track at Hellyer Park Velodrome in San Jose California. He was immediately inspired to purchase a track race bike of his own and participated in his first beginner session(s) during the winter of 2006-2007. He was immediately hooked.
He was driven to excel at the sport and earn his upgrade as a track racer so that he could participate in ‘big money’ races called omniums, or velodrome challenges. A few years later, in 2009, he and his wife were going full throttle, participating in all the summer events at Hellyer as well as an annual event held in Portland called the Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge.
There is a unique environment in track racing where often times women race with men because of the extremely small women’s field sizes. Large age ranges and abilities participate together and there is a close camaraderie that is nurtured between the racers.
While up in Portland, he distinctly remembers thinking ‘This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.’
What motivated you to start the Sacramento Valley Velodrome campaign?
Dean and his wife both reside in the Sacramento area and the closest velodrome is the Hellyer Park Velodrome in San Jose. A roughly 2 hour drive one way, with races beginning in the late evening, this puts them home after midnight each time they go and race. He learned of a previous grass roots campaign to get a velodrome here in the Sacramento region many years ago that died out. His participation in the omnium events and networking with everyone he could about track racing and building a velodrome in the Sacramento area during his 2010 season put a lot of perspective on what it takes to run a successful velodrome program. Surprisingly, he gathered that building the track was the easy part. It’s the people and the continued support of the program that proves to be the challenge; which is why so many velodromes have been closed over the years. Madison Square Garden in New York City was named after Madison style racing on a velodrome that no longer exists, during the infamous 6-day races in the early 1900’s.
What’s the plan?
Through all of his research and networking, Alleger determined that the best scenario involved having a healthy non-profit association set up to run the racing and the programs. A municipal property run by the parks commission and funded by a combination of private benefactors as well as sponsorship and revenue from holding events themselves would keep the facility running on a daily basis.
What would track racing look like here in Sacramento?
Now that Dean has completed two winter sessions of the Savage Sprints, he is working on the next steps to getting a velodrome built here as well as providing a steady income for him and his wife to help support his dream. Once the velodrome is built, he is excited about starting a junior program, running a summer twilight series where they will hold match sprints, chariot races and time trials; all on fixed gear bikes. Spectators are sure to be entertained.
Dean has found a strong network of friends, mentors and promoters within the cycling and track community that has helped to fuel his mission. He has earned their respect and feels that it’s only a matter of time before a track in the Sacramento Valley becomes a reality. He feels that his approach is unique from past attempts to get a velodrome here.
Those that have tried in the past failed to recognize that a movement is not made of concrete, wood or steel but of people that are unafraid to dream.