While the Boulder bike community basks in the collective excitement of its new velodrome (featured in the April issue of Elevation Outdoors), riders in Colorado Springs have been racing fixed-gear bikes on a big banked track for years.
In 1982, the U.S. Olympic Committee built the 7-Eleven United States Olympic Training Center Velodrome on leased land in Colorado Springs’ Memorial Park. This track, which is about four blocks from the USOC Training Center campus, was built as a replica of the Los Angeles track that would be the venue for the 1984 Olympics. Its primary purpose was—and still is—for training resident and guest athletes at the center, but there are plenty of hours during which it sits idle, at which time it opens up to the public.
Open April through October, weather permitting (it’s outside), the track is 333 meters and banks up to 35 degrees in the corners. It costs a mere $5 to ride, for basically as long as you want, and another $5 to rent a track bike. This bargain pricing comes with the caveat that you agree to come down off the track for 20 or 30 minutes should a national champion need to log a few sprints.
According to the USOC’s John Cotton, who is in charge of operations for the track, most riders are more star struck than bothered when an Olympian does pull rank. And sometimes the coaches even chat up the recreational riders and offer bits of advice. “Local riders are willing to work around this,” Cotton says. “They can come talk to the national team coach. We are like one big happy family.”
It’s not uncommon for tourists to drop by and want to try it out. As long as they can keep the bike going at least 12 miles per hour, Cotton says they are welcome to give it a whirl. He familiarizes them with a fixed-gear bike and explains the basic etiquette of track riding. Then he sets them loose. “It takes me 10 to 15 minutes to get them orientated to the track,” Cotton says. “Sometimes I have people who come in and ride for one hour—that’s enough to do them for a lifetime.”
For experienced riders, the Colorado Velodrome Association hosts a race series on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The schedule includes developmental races for those just getting into the sport, all the way up to A level races, which may include some of the world’s best.
For a schedule of drop-in hours and public racing, visit www.coloradousac.org/track/