State of the Art Bike Track
The Boulder Velodrome is an incredible engineering feat. It is absolutely state of the art, designed to allow cyclists to achieve some of the fastest speeds possible. While riding bikes in a fixed gear. Oh, and you cannot stop pedaling, because the flywheel is attached directly to the pedals – if you cease pedaling for any reason, you’ll go right over your handlebars and crash.
Better than Olympic Quality
Down in Colorado Springs, there is a training facility with a 333 meter track. Three laps equals one kilometer. Makes sense, but surprisingly, that longer track is not nearly as fast as the Boulder Velodrome. The local track is just 250 meters. The smaller size makes the track steeper and experienced riders can convert that steepness into speed. While visiting the track today I watch Brint, a world class cyclist, ride a Flying 250 at over 40 mph. Truly exciting – this is a single lap exceeding 40 mph. And he accelerated to that speed in 2laps – after riding about the cumulative distance of a 1/2 kilometer (about 1/3 of a mile).
All the while I’m at the track, I’m listening to Frank describe the facility in a rapid and excited fashion. His partner Doug is on hand as well. Frank is clearly ecstatic about what the duo has created with the Boulder Velodrome. He tells me more technical statistics than I can recall here in this blog. Standouts of the facility include:
- The entrance is underground. You climb some steps (or a bike ramp) and find yourself inside the oval. The Design maximizes the lot and allows for the track to be built at ground level.
- There is a 5,000 square foot bike storage depot hidden away inside the track. The Boulder Velodrome offers a wide range of rental bike sizes to accommodate children to adults 6’5.” Looking for an adventure? Get out and try the track. Mandatory training for all riders is informative and protects cyclists often traveling at fantastic speeds on a small oval.
- The Olympic facility in Colorado Springs will only allow the best of the best riders to achieve speeds in the 30 MPH range. The Boulder Velodrome, with its steeply inclined 250 meter track allows riders to reach speeds over 40 mph quickly.
How Much Energy Are We Talking?
You grab your bike out of the back of the garage and go for a ride. You are creating Watts of energy (car power is measured in horse power, but humans on a bike generate a fraction of this energy, termed watts). Your average cyclist? Over the course of a bike ride creates enough watts to light a light bulb or two. The Boulder Velodrome cyclists are creating enough energy to light hundreds of bulbs in their hour long to 90 minute workouts.
As riders increase their speed, they move from being completely upright to perpendicular to the track. So as the race intensifies, riders are actually at an increasingly steep angle to the ground. Frank tells me it is really something to see a chase ride with a pack of six to eight riders moving furiously along the track.
About the bikes at the Boulder Velodrome
These are custom rides. The frames weight a handful of pounds and up. Brint shows me his bike. The handlebars are pitched down. Riders are looking to create the lowest amount of drag. The bikes have only a single gear, nothing like the “Ten Speed” bikes that were popular when I was a kid or the mountain bikes that routinely offer 18-21 gears these days. And velodrome cycles come with just a single gear. Which is attached directly between the pedals and wheel. Speaking of the pedals, the bike chain is likely made of gold. It increases the performance of the bike dramatically.
The most expensive component of the bikes are race quality wheels. An entry quality level bike package can easily exceed $10,000 in value. Fully loaded and tricked out Boulder velodrome bikes are considerably more expensive. And the best cycles are ridiculously light in weight. A few pounds can be the difference between best in Colorado and best in the world.
Recreation Leads To Cycling Dream
The owners, Doug and Frank, are each avid cycling enthusiasts. Frank’s background is all recreational. He has been pursuing the creation of a World Class track since the early 2000’s. Doug is also the owner of University Cycles. He tells me 2015 will be his 31st year in the cycling industry in Boulder. These guys love to ride, coach some, and are the proud papas of the exhilarating Boulder Velodrome. Be sure to visit for the ride of your life.