Cyclists of all ages and skill levels raced around the CSU Oval Sunday afternoon in an endeavor to further awareness of the growing need for a velodrome in Fort Collins.
Cyclists use these large, oval-shaped facilities with banked tracks made from wood, concrete or asphalt for training and competitions.
“Given how good the CSU cycling club is, and that Fort Collins is widely considered the cycling destination of the nation, it seems unfair that we don’t have a track to practice on,” CSU sophomore Andrew Carlson said. “It’s frustrating because it seems like if a sport doesn’t have a ball, or if it doesn’t make a lot of money, it won’t get funding.”
Facilities of this magnitude can cost anywhere from several hundred thousand to several million dollars, but despite the cost, many find a velodrome to be an essential investment to tap CSU’s potential.
“A covered velodrome is so important – something we need to train at for track racing, especially during the winter when its too cold or dangerous to train outside,” CSU sophomore Adam Wisseman said.
The bikes used for track racing cannot be used safely on city roads, even in good weather, because they have no brakes and the aggressive riding style can be hazardous.
Despite a proper training facility, CSU’s cycling team has managed to remain competitive at the state and national level, taking second place in the Division I Team Omnium, or overall competition, at the national event last month.
President of the Fort Collins Velodrome Association Tim Anderson said he’s pushing for a velodrome to be built in Fort Collins.
“We would like to see it land in or around downtown so it could be a part of the downtown Fort Collins culture,” he said. “Culture doesn’t just mean arts and sciences; in Colorado, fitness is a huge part of culture.”
Anderson said he believes a velodrome would be a beneficial addition to the community for those other than competitive cyclists.
“Cycling is the number one outdoor recreational activity,” he said. “I’m sure many parents would like their kids to become more active with their bicycles without the fear of bad roads or dangerous drivers. A velodrome would offer that security.”
Currently the closest velodrome to Fort Collins is in Colorado Springs, which is discouraging for competitive CSU cyclists.
Recently, the city of Boulder approved the permit application for a velodrome, planned to open Dec. 1.
However, even this development has not been helpful. The team says the Boulder track will be too small for practical use.
Anderson agreed, saying the track would be tricky for the cyclists to ride.
“The building they’re putting it in is an existing warehouse, so they have to fit it in, which resulted in a track that’s a little over-square rather than an elongated oval. So it can’t be banked as steeply,” he said.
The CSU cycling club and local riders hope for a more functional facility.
Anderson said he is looking to receive a concession of public land before he begins any formal fundraising for the velodrome.
He expects the project to be a community affair, including labor from professionals and sweat equity.
“This is to be a community non-profit velodrome,” Anderson said. “Ultimately, the addition of a velodrome to the Fort Collins community would be a benefit to everyone.”
Staff writer Tyler Okland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org