With velodrome saved, track fans prep for big season

Time to hit the banked walls of Alpenrose!
(Photo: Leonard Johnson/HotFoot Photo)

It wasn’t until our community was faced with losing the Alpenrose Velodrome for good that many people realized just how much love exists for this facility.

We recently heard from Jim Graves of the Portland Velodrome Committee and Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Membership Director/Alpenrose Velodrome Director Jen Featheringill about what’s in store for 2019.

How to speak track

  • Keirin – A 6 lap race with riders starting from a standing start.
  • Point-a-Lap – First racer across the line every lap receives one point.
  • Snowball – Mass start race run over a set distance.
  • Points Race – A predetermined number of sprints occur at set intervals.
  • Scratch Race – All riders race for a set number of laps.

With that major scare now behind us, and with spring’s drier skies in front of us, the focus now is on using it. Local track racing organizers are eager to turn this renewed sense of gratitude for the velodrome into race participation and support in the coming season.

Graves said one big change this year is they’ve moved the popular Track Development Class for Beginners to Tuesday evenings. This was done so up-and-coming junior racers (many of whom would opt to race the Tuesday PIR series at Portland International Raceway) could compete in the weekly Alpenrose Cup Series which now takes place on Wednesdays.

If you’re track-curious and want to try Alpenrose for the first time, Tuesday nights are for you. The Track Development Class is a prerequisite to get you certified to compete. Because track bikes have fixed gears and Alpenrose has tricky banked walls, this isn’t a sport you just hop on and do (like cyclocross for instance). Tuesday track class ($20 for adults, $10 for juniors) will get you sorted with experienced instructors. The first class is April 30th and the series runs weekly through August 28th. You can’t ride your regular bike on the track, so they’ll provide a free bike if you need one. Show up at 5:30 to get signed in and set for the 6:00 pm start.



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OBRA’s Featheringill said they had a 30% increase in the number of racers/day last season and, “All of that starts with getting folks out to the beginner classes on Tuesdays so we can get new people hooked on the sport.”

Watching is fun too!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re a woman/trans/femme/non-binary racer and interested in racing, local team BattleKat PDX recently raised enough funds to cover 150 race entries. (Contact them for more information.) On a related note, there’s a track clinic for W/T/F/NB racers this Sunday (4/28).

Another thing worth noting this year is the upgrade to the Thursday Night Track (TNT) series. Every Thursday night from May 5th through August 29th, there’s serious racing and every last Thursday of the month is a special Spectator Night with a BBQ and podium/prize ceremony.

With the Fast Twitch Friday series, there are events happening at Alpenrose four nights a week.

And I haven’t even mentioned the big weekend races like the Alpenrose 4-Day, the Black Cat Omnium, Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge, and more. For more information, see the full OBRA track schedule and check out the official Alpenrose Velodrome website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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