Jun 172008
 
Authors: Meagan Berg

After six weeks of organizing bicycling races on the Oval, local cyclists finalized their effort to raise community approval of a Fort Collins racetrack Sunday.

The races pitted riders of all skill levels against each other through blood and sweat in the six-part series, the last of which was highlighted by a collision that earned some riders an ambulance ride to Poudre Valley Hospital.

One had a broken collarbone, but there were no serious injuries.

The final race on the Oval hosted by the Fort Collins Velodrome Association and CSU Rams Cycling, featured races for all ages and abilities.

The races were hosted to raise public interest in constructing a velodrome; a circular, banked racetrack for cyclists, near downtown Fort Collins.

About 250 spectators and cyclists came to the Oval for the final day, the biggest turnout of the series.

The final amount of money raised by race registration is yet to be counted by the FCVA, but is between $1,600 and $2,000, said Erick Carlson, the president of Rams Cycling.

Dan Lionberg, a CSU graduate student and a member of Rams Cycling, a student cycling group, attributed the high turnout to Father’s Day.

“The turnout today was greater than the week before, the week before, and the week before,” he said. “Next year, hopefully we’ll be able to do this with an actual velodrome.”

Lionberg won his race in the track category despite being “really, really tired” from a race the previous day.

Community members also raced. The men’s professional was CSU Alumnus Chris Donegan’s first race on the Oval. Hacking and sneezing from the strain of the race, he said the “atmosphere was great, and something to build on.”

Spectators dotted the Oval with family picnics and games of Frisbee. Jeff Cummins, 31, came out to the race with his two children for Father’s Day.

“I had no idea there was a race for those still on training wheels, so we brought out the bikes and let the kids race,” Cummins said.

Rachel Knott, also a CSU graduate student and a member of Ram’s Cycling reflected on some of the other children she has seen come out in previous weeks.

“One week we had a kid that really stood out. Nerdy, glasses and big buck teeth,” Knott said. “He really didn’t want to go out and race; his parents had to convince him to do it. He went out and won it. The next week he came out again, and kept saying ‘Will I win? Will I win?’ at the registration table.”

Knott said construction of a velodrome will not only draw elite cyclists from across the nation to Fort Collins, but provide great opportunities for youth.

“It will give the kids the option to get out and be active instead of sitting on the couch and playing video games,” Knott said.

But even with community support, a velodrome in Fort Collins cannot be built without approval from the City.

“I have no intention of raising money to build one without a concession of public parks land, preferably near our downtown,” said Tim Anderson, director of the Fort Collins Velodrome Association. “With the land secured in the right area, private donors, corporate sponsors, and patrons and philanthropists should all want to help.”

Anderson said outdoor velodromes can be built for between $500,000 and $2,000,000 on “ready and paid for” land.

Indoor velodromes cost around $15,000,000.

A velodrome built on public land will not be subject to annual property tax.

“This is a big undertaking, but it fits our city, and we need to think big,” Anderson said.

Staff writer Meagan Berg can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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