Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Velodrome Design and Bike Handling

Velodrome Size and Surface Treatment:

In general there are no fixed standards for the length of a track. The track has to be individually designed in order to suit the demands of the respective project.The choice of the track length and it's form will be influenced by the intended use, the category of track desired and economical aspects.

In practical terms the choice of a track length should be such, that the multiplication of half -or preferably- full laps, will result in a round figure of 1'000 meters.

Shorter tracks are spectator-friendly.The racing is confined to a smaller area with the spectators being closer to the action.This generates a more intimate atmosphere between the racing cyclists and the spectators and produces more atmosphere. In addition smaller tracks and velodromes are naturally cheaper and easier to install.

Track Sizes:

125 meters

133.333 meters

142.857 meters

153.846 meters

166.666 meters

181.818 meters

200 meters

222.222 meters

250 meters

285.714 meters

333.333 meters

400 meters

500 meters


Velodrome Surfaces:

Wood, synthetics and concrete are all possible materials used to cover velodrome tracks. The newer the track, the more likely it is to be covered in wood or synthetics. The less expensive tracks employ concrete, macadam or, in some cases, cinder. Link

My Experience with Macadam & Concrete:

The question is how does a bike handle on various velodrome surfaces with different banking and length. I have never ridden on a wooden velodrome so I guess there is a learning curve regarding wheels, tires and other equipment selection in dealing with wooden surfaces. For example the Mavic IO five bladed spoke wheel is primarily designed for riding on indoor velodromes which are more than likely to have a wooden surface. Also special tires, or special preping of tires might be needed for wooden surfaces.

Riding on Kissena velodrome is like riding on the road since the surface is macadam / asphalt paving. Riding at Lehigh Velodrome is much smoother since the surface is concrete paving. It would seem logical that if you can ride a fast time at Kissena then you can ride an even faster time on a smoother track. Also different surfaces are affected differently by climatic conditions, which will affect how tires roll. Wood and synthetic surfaces would probably be the most stable surfaces in an indoor velodrome where temperature and humidity is controlled.

There is always a learning curve at any track which requires individual experimentation. What might work for someone else will not work for you. I rode a 12.57 using the inside line at Kissena and then rode a 12.85 at Lehigh Velodrome using the same inside line with the same equipment and same 108" gear - I was disoriented with the bike feel on the smooth concrete surface, bankings and the shorter track which reduced the length of back and home straights. I need to get more familiar with the Lehigh Velodrome before venturing onto a wooden velodrome.

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