There is an incredible purity to track cycling. It’s not unlike great design. When you pare everything down, forget the bells, whistles, frills and anything that isn’t absolutely necessary, you are left with a track bike and a perfectly smooth, unobstructed course on which to ride it.
This is what a velodrome represents. Cycling, stripped down to the bare essentials. And it is beautiful. The bikes are works of art, fit to be stared at for lengthy periods, even while at rest.
The Forest City Velodrome in London, Canada, is a rare beast. There aren’t many indoor velodromes in the world, and this is one of the more unusual of them all. In 2005, a few track cycling enthusiasts found an old unused hockey arena that had been set for demolition, and figured it was just barely big enough to cram a velodrome into.
It measures just 138 metres around, with corners that are banked at a staggering 50 degrees. By way of comparison, the legendary velodrome in Ghent, Belgium (which has been known to make riders nauseous from the high g-forces) is 166 metres. The minimum size for an Olympic velodrome is 250 metres. But the folks at FCV don’t see the short track and harrowing turns as a drawback. Quite the opposite. “It makes the racing more exciting,” one rider told us. “You’ve just barely hit the straightaway before the track slingshots you around a corner again.”
We’ve also posted a slideshow of images we took while at the velodrome.
One of the things that makes FCV so great is that it’s run entirely by volunteers. No one is getting rich off it, and everyone who shows up does so because they love it. Not only is it one hell of a lot of fun to tear around the velodrome at high speed (we tried it, and loved it) but this facility and the volunteers are giving a group of teenage athletes a place to train in the hopes it puts them on a course to the Olympics.
Once again, thanks to our friends at Obsolete Components for providing the music for this film.