A velodrome is a gathering place. A gathering place where individuals show up and become part of a like-minded tribe. A tribe of people with a desire to stay fit, improve themselves mentally and physically, and compete against themselves and their fellow racers. I should at this point admit, I have yet to set foot inside of a velodrome. But I have been racing bicycles on and off of the road for more than a decade and that’s what I’ve seen at the races I’ve attended and competed in. For many types of racing, the participants travel to a different locale, and race a different course, week by week. While variety can be the spice of life, sometimes it is sad that we only visit many of our venues but once per year, and some years we may not be able to go to our favorites. A velodrome is different however, in that it is a place of permanence, like a home. There is a certain level of comfort in returning to the same venue again and again, over a long period of time. Comfort in the physical form of becoming familiar with the nuances of a given race course. And mental comfort in feeling a connection to the place itself, the people who inhabit it, and creating memories of both.
The Sacramento Valley is one of the greatest areas for cycling in the entire country. I’m a lifelong No-Cal and feel lucky to live in an area where I can take part in virtually any type of riding I wish to do. Yet our closest velodrome is far away in San Jose. I have many teammates who make the trek through the bay area to get their chance to go around in circles on the high banks of Hellyer Park Velodrome. But I can hardly wait for the day when I can walk out my front door and have my wheels on a banked track within the hour. I was so excited at the prospect of a local velodrome that I started looking for a track bike on ebay and Craiglist. I’m 6’6”, so finding a track bike in my size is not easy. But after many months of searching I finally managed to procure a lovely, steel LeMond Fillmore that fits me like a glove, and was a heck of a deal. I’m part of the Sacramento Valley Velodrome Association because I want the sport I love to have a permanent home in Sacramento. Not just for the velodrome, but for the other disciplines which will make up this new cycling complex, like Cyclocross, BMX, Mountain Biking and Criterium Racing. I didn’t start taking cycling seriously until my 30’s. A complex like this would give access to people of all ages and abilities, from near and far, and only further the Sacramento area’s status as one of greatest cycling regions to be found anywhere. I can’t wait for my first lap around the velodrome.