Track World Championships

Los Angeles, USA

24th - 27th March 2005


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 Venue Preview

WomensCycling.net took an exclusive ride on the relatively newly built track at the Home Depot Center earlier this week. The venue is a training venue for various US Olympic teams, including the cycling team. The velodrome is just a part of the massive centre, which includes a tennis centre, which recently hosted the Davis Cup. There are also athletics facilities, baseball and gridiron football fields within the Home Depot Center.

The whole venue is run with the environment in mind. The vehicles used by staff to get from building to building are electrically powered and the water used for maintaining the grass comes from non-drinkable and therefore less-treatment-required storage facilities. The velodrome itself gives a clue to this policy. The 'derny' used to pace riders in the keirins will be an electrically-powered mountainbike. The powered bikes used to pace riders during training sessions are also electric powered - all silent and offering the surreal sight of a silent motorbike leading the riders around the boards.

The derny bike used by WomensCycling.net was a 'Stealth Bike'. Similar models are currently used by US Forces in Afghanistan, where they are used to get troops from place to place silently, but quickly. Stealth Bikes fold at the downtube, the wheels are quick release and the handlebars and seatpin can be adjusted to reduce 'pack-size'. 

On the track, the bike seems heavy if you are used to a single-speed fixed-wheel track bike, but using the thumb-operated power lever on the handlebars, any weight is soon forgotten as the motor augments the pedal strokes of the rider, providing easy acceleration to 45km/h with little effort from the rider. It is also strange to be riding fat slicks on the boards, but since the bike is about going in a straight line steadily, there is no need for anything thinner. 

Riding the bike was certainly a treat and the opportunity to take in a few laps of the World's venue was also an honour. The track is 250m, built from Siberian Pine and the venue is taking all possible steps to take care of the surface. All outside doors lead to areas which contain a further door before access to the main velodrome space is gained. For spectators, this means a large, lobby area. For riders and officials, this means a corridor between doors. The idea is that the double-door system provides a level of climate control for the track boards which protects them from accelerated deterioration.

Thank you to Home Depot Center's Lee Callans and Velodrome Director, Roger Young for their arrangement of the preview session.

Click here for photos of the electrically-powered pace bike and derny used at Home Depot Center.



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