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Photos and Text by Scott Demel

October 10, 2010

Just a few years ago, a trip to Colorado would have solely meant a bicycle ride to any of the high peaks and passes of the Rocky Mountains.   However, Colorado has other cycling opportunities.  The Velodrome at the Boulder Indoor Cycling Center is the newest track in the country and after spending my 2010 season focused on racing at the velodrome, I was eager to ride it. 

Boulder Indoor Velodrome
Panoramic photograph of the Boulder Indoor Velodrome

Two BVF teammates, Chris Barbaria and Mike Howard, competed at tracks away from New York City region this season: Masters Track Nationals at the Frisco, Texas Velodrome and at the Pan-American games in Cuba.  Chris described racing at the 250m Frisco Velodrome “like another sport” when compared to our local tracks at Kissena and Trexlertown.  The steeper banking, the short straights and wood surface completely changed the approach to riding.  For comparison:

-  Kissena is 400m, an asphalt surface and banked 19 degrees. 


-  Trexlertown is 333m, a concrete surface and banked 27 degrees.


-  Boulder is 142m, a wood surface, and banked 45 degrees.


Riding a track as small and steep as Boulder would indeed be a new experience.


Boulder is so small that the coaches at the velodrome usually require new riders to complete an 8 session course before giving approval for open riding and training time.  Though with some continual emailing and conversations in the weeks before I arrived, I managed to join in with a Sunday morning Track 101 course and then have some free time on the track.  The velodrome also provided a nice track bike from their on-site fleet (with 47x15 gearing, if I remember correctly).


So up onto the track!  I’ll cut straight to the message the Boulder Velodrome delivers: everything you have been doing wrong on the track is highlighted with a big fat orange marker.  To stay down in the sprint lane for an entire lap(s), you must:


Pedal smooth

Carry good speed into the turn

Confidently attack the turn and adjust your body weight

Look ahead

Hold eyes and head level to the ground (not the track banking)

Smoothly exit

Set-up again and repeat


After a few laps, I was already feeling some strain in my neck and down into my upper spine from the forces this track places on the body in the turns.  It’s the tightest sligshot I’ve ever been on and the G-forces actually take a toll after only a short time.  I adjusted technique and got a little bit better and more comfortable.  After about 1.5 hours of riding, I was just starting to get a feel for the track’s lines and could almost stay down in the sprint lane for over 2 laps.  Sloppy riding or technique will quickly push rider and bike uptrack.

The Overpass and Turn 1

Finishing Straight
Turn 4 and the Finishing Straight


HelmetCam riding the Boulder Velodrome, on Youtube by drago522

By the end of the session, my lower back was feeling sore and my right forearm was feeling tight from driving the bike into the corners again and again.  24 hours later, those aches were still present.  Boulder makes a clear case for core and upper body work in the off season.


Track Etiquette is a must in Boulder.  It’s so small, riders have to be hyper aware of everything that is happening around them on the track and what other riders are doing. When I was riding on the track during open training time, 6 persons on the track at once was starting to feel crowded.


Because of all of these quirks, Boulder is an excellent training track – you must realize every aspect of riding in order to maximize speed and technique for move around the track effectively, efficiently and quickly.

There is some racing at the Boulder Velodrome though the coaches told me that mass start events were difficult because of the small track size. There was a flyer on the tables for Thursday night racing, using a 48x17 (77”) gear restriction!  Match sprints and time trials were also listed on the flyer.  Timing chips are available for great accuracy in timing laps and other distance events.  The current 1-lap track records are 7.690 seconds (Men) and 8.401 seconds (Women).

Track Record Board, October 2010

Timing Computer Support Structure
Timing Computer (L) and Understide of the Track Structure (R)


Boulder Velodrome Model
An early architectural model of the Boulder Indoor Cycling Center.


The Boulder Velodrome is located on the outer edge of town and occupies the far end of a steel-framed, metal-clad industrial building.  Some other shipping and light manufacturing businesses use the other portions of this long building; a FedEx sorting facility is across the parking lot.  The track is designed to fit within the walls of this building and the inner edge of the track fits tightly around the building’s interior columns.  Those steel columns at the 4 turns are heavily padded and marked with giant numerals.  A very narrow, pitched blue line just clears each column.  I roughly walked off the footprint of the track with overall dimension of approximately 120’ x 90’ at its outermost edges.  There is a mezzanine overlooking the track at Turn 1 and a bridge from the mezzanine passes over the start line and into the infield area.

Boulder Velodrome
Exterior of the building housing the velodrome.


As a business, the Boulder Indoor Cycling Center is not exclusively supported by revenue from the track.  There are also two kid’s BMX courses that wind through the infield and along the outer edge of the finishing straight.  The day I visited, a birthday party was setting up in the mezzanine for about 25 kids and their parents.  The velodrome is owned and managed by an established company that also operates Boulder Indoor Soccer at other locations in the city.


If you are in Boulder, I do recommend making a visit to the Velodrome at the Boulder Indoor Cycling Center!  And by the time you visit in 2011 or after, there may be another velodrome in nearby Erie, Colorado: a 250m wooden outdoor track.

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