The question “Why does Sacramento need a velodrome and cycling park?” is a legitimate one.
There are certainly reasons not to build such a park: It costs a sizable amount of money. It takes hundreds of man hours of effort to formulate the concept, establish a Board of Directors, gain access to enough land and, finally, to build it. The reasons TO build it are many, both for the community in general and for me, in particular.
My own track riding and racing history may shed some light on why I am so passionate about this project. For many years I plodded along as a fairly slow runner. Despite my lack of speed, my knees eventually told me it was time to quit pounding the pavement and seek another source of endorphin production. I have always been enamored with the mechanics and beauty of bicycles and gravitated toward road riding in 2005.
In 2008 a friend suggested I consider track riding as the U.S. National Championship that year was to be held in San Jose, California at Hellyer Park, one of 4 velodromes in California.
I went to Hellyer, participated in the 3 Saturday novice sessions required, and was immediately hooked on the sport. I was taken by the simplicity of the bikes, the speed generated and most importantly by the camaraderie of the riders there. Competitors helped each other with all aspects of the sport; bicycle adjustment, loaning equipment and the sharing of training and racing strategies. Despite racing their hearts out against one another, these people shared meals, time and real respect for one another.
Fast forward to 2010. I decided to take 4 months off from my Cardiology practice to train seriously for the U.S. National Masters Track Cycling Championship and the World Championship to be held in Anadia, Portugal. The training went well and allowed me to win the 2 Kilometer Individual Pursuit at the National event and to come home with a bronze medal in the Points Race at the World Championship in Portugal. The 4 months off work really did change my life. Prior to that I did not think there was any endeavor that would fill the void that would be created with my eventual retirement from medicine. Those 4 months away from my practice armed me with the knowledge that my life would still be beyond full without medicine, and I retired from practice in December 2012.
Together with family, cycling continues to be a main focus in my life. So, it’s easy to understand why a velodrome and bike park in Sacramento are important to me. After all, it’s a long way to San Jose and an even longer drive to Carson, California where the premier track in the United States is.
But Sacramento doesn’t need a track to make my life easier. A velodrome and bike park locally would allow a safe, supervised environment for people of all ages to ride a bike. Our community, including bordering cities Roseville, Elk Grove, Dixon and Davis have large numbers of cyclists. We have 2 high quality universities, multiple Junior Colleges , high schools and elementary schools with potential riders in the area. BMX racing is an especially attractive, newer sport garnering at times, hundreds of participants. A bike park with velodrome, BMX course, pump track and criterium course would help build community while helping combat the epidemic of obesity. Local economy stands to gain substantially from events held at the park, especially when state and national -level events are held.
I am proud to be a member of the Board of Directors of the Sacramento Valley Velodrome Association and to be working with a cadre of bright, honest and committed people. Together we will see this project through.