Track racing itself dates back to the turn of the century. Madison Square Garden in New York originally hosted 6 day long track events back in the 1900s. Hundreds of thousands of people would come watch these amazing riders compete.
The Penrose Velodrome, in north St. Louis City was built in 1961-62 after the Forest Park Velodrome was destroyed to make room for Highway 40 expansion. The St. Louis Cycling Club provided the funding. The track hosted a national championship in 1962 but suffered a collapse of an underlying sewer main shortly thereafter that left it…well…shall we say a “little” bumpy.
The track has since taken on the nickname Mr. Bumpy Face.
WITH GOOD REASON
If you are flying fast into turn 3, expect a little buck out of the saddle on the way to turn 4…kind of like bull riding and cycling combined into one sport. You can only get that experience folks at the Penrose Velodrome.
To ride the velodrome is to ride a piece of St. Louis history.
Every Thursday night at 6 p.m. from May through August, this piece of St. Louis cycling history comes alive with racing.
Sure the cracks are wide…sure there are thorns that will flat your tires…sure there is something in the air that makes you wheeze and your eyes water.
That is all part of the experience. This is a 50 year old track. The aforementioned attributes build character. If you can race this velodrome, you can race anything.
The track experience itself is almost as if mountain bikers took over a crit race.
The tires are thin but the atmosphere is completely relaxed. People bring cookies. People bring beer. Tonight Eva Berger took a lap around the track on a unicycle.
It was awesome!
If variety spices your life, then track is the sport for you. On any given night you get to do three kind sof races. Usually one is geared toward the sprinter…one lap chariot races with a holder to 15 lap tempo races that favor the endurance rider with a point being awarded for each lap one. Hell, It ‘s like field day on a bike!
The variety does not end with the events. The track bike, “by law” a fixed gear with no hand brakes runs the full spectrum. People ride anything from steel bikes that they built themselves from old 70’s and 80’s road bikes to aluminum Masis to carbon with disc wheels. People wear everything from gym shorts to skinsuits.
Truly a mixing bowl.
Great sport if you have ADD. Nothing really lasts more than 10 minutes.
Grab your fixie and head to the hood.
Hell..wear your hoodie too.
You will have a good time.