The Greater Victoria Velodrome Association is gearing up for the season, and they hope to grow their membership and community interest in track cycling.
That’s why the club is inviting community members of all ages and cycling abilities to check out the West Shore Velodrome and try their hand at track cycling at an open house on April 9.
“It’s a great place to learn a lot of bike skills in a safe environment where you don’t have to worry about vehicles,” said association president Matt Powell. “It seems even in the cycling community it isn’t very well-known that we have this velodrome, so we are looking to get the word out there more.”
Powell said despite the special nature of track cycling – which features bikes with “fixed” gearing, meaning the pedals turn constantly with the rear wheel and cannot coast, and a lack of brakes while riding on a steeply banked track – it is one of the safer forms of cycling once riders get used to the fact they must always be pedaling and to gently slow down.
Adding to that level of safety is the fact the club’s track is longer and features less steep banking in the corners than most modern velodromes, thanks to its construction dating back to the 1994 Commonwealth Games. Its age also makes it one of the few remaining outdoor velodromes, as most tracks are now indoors.
Beyond simply offering the facility for free rides on certain days of the week, the association offers a wide range of introductory courses, skills development and racing for riders of all ages and abilities.
“We’ve always been pretty inclusive in getting everyone involved, with different levels of competition so riders can compete with their skill level,” said Powell.
Despite that accessibility, the club has helped train some high-level athletes. Mel Pemble is one of the club’s products and he recently won gold at the 2022 Para Cycling Track World Championships held in France.
In the spirit of increasing community interest in the sport, the club is working with its peers at the Marymoor Velodrome Association, which operates the Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome in Redmond, Wash. to put on a Salish Summer Cup competition this summer, as well as its annual Track Fest events in June and August.
Powell said those interested in the track and the sport are encouraged to come down to the velodrome, located in the lower park of West Shore Parks and Recreation, during any of its events during the week and weekend to watch, but the open house will be the best time to try the sport.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 9, club volunteers and coaches will be on hand to answer any questions, and to help riders get up and running on one of the club’s rental bikes, free of charge. Interested riders need only bring their own helmet to participate.
More information on the club and track can be found at gvva.bc.ca.
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