Monday, January 21, 2008

Velodromes...

For most cities, building a velodrome is like making a new year's resolution to lose eighty pounds before July: the idea sounds great, in theory it's what you want, you'll probably spend a bunch of money on gimmicky "quick fix" solutions, and there's a good chance absolutely nothing will actually happen.
Take my home state of New Mexico for example. The notion of building a velodrome in the Land of Enchantment is older than Lance Armstrong's recent squeeze. Numerous proposals have come and gone -- some of them more hair-brained than others. When I was first getting into racing, I spent a summer in Santa Fe. Daydreaming about how sweet the new Southwest Velodrome would be was a favorite pastime. The Southwest Velodrome Association got off on the right foot: they proposed a plan, asked city council for permission, and went about raising money. But when a wooden velodrome in Winnipeg, Canada (originally built for the 1999 Pan-American games) was put up for sale for a fraction of the cost it took to build it, the Southwest Velodrome Association bought the thing like a jittery E-bay shopper. They had the velodrome disassembled, and shipped it to Albuquerque. Since they had not yet procured a piece of land upon which to assemble a velodrome, nor had they sufficient funds to do so in a timely manner, the wooden pieces just sat on a lot. Outside. In Albuquerque, New Mexico -- a place so hot and dry that more often than not, when it rains all the water evaporates before it hits the ground (I shit you not). Naturally, the velodrome pieces warped horribly. It's uncertain whether or not the pieces are still usable (albeit with a substantial amount of sanding). What is certain, is that the Southwest Velodrome Association set themselves back a decade or more in their plans to bring track racing to New Mexico.


Boise, Idaho on the other hand, seems to have its shit a little more together. The Idaho Velopark is currently under construction. This impressive facility will make the lives of Boise cyclists much much better. As well as the 333.3 meter concrete velodrome, the Velopark will boast a BMX track, a combined cyclocross / short-track mountain bike course, and a "skills park" [I have no idea what this is]. My point is, there is currently a piece of land (one that I've seen with my own eyes!) with a sign on it. That sign that tells me that one day, there will be a massive, gleaming bicycle track for me to race upon, and I like that idea. I'm sure there will be snags, delays, and shortcomings, but clearly the people in charge of the Idaho Velopark aren't ninnies. And I hate ninnies. Unless they're dancing ninnies.

2 comments:

paunchy43 said...

Sigh...yes the dream of a velodrome has been just that for over 20 years. I attended a meeting with an Abq's Park & Rec official in 1998. We were just getting started on the path to a basic outdoor, 333m track when a small group too impatient to wait the anticipated 3 years took over and gave us the warping firewood.

Then came Dave Chauner who convinced our mayor to go for gold and build a Home Depot-like, 250m UCI spec'd indoor facility. I'd love it - I've gone to LA to watch 3 World Cups and World Championships - but it's unrealistic and will never happen.

Fortunately, there's a private group traveling full-circle again for an outdoor 333m facility.

We actually do have a thing called a Veloport. It's next to the Albuquerque Isotopes stadium and currently consists of a covered BMX track and a site for a velodrome. I feel like going out with a bulldozer and plowing a dirt track but will keep waiting for tomorrow.

me, myselfa and i said...

I'm from the suburbs of Chicago, and have been frequenting the Velodrome in Northbrook. I may be moving to Rio Rancho in a year so I was checking out if there were any velodromes in the area. I read things saying there is the Southwest Velodrome but nothing definitive like an address. What is up? thanks in advance. :)