“It’s best just to commit,” says cyclist Kim Deacon, discussing the art of riding the high-banked walls of velodromes. “You look up at the banked walls and you think there’s no way you’re going to be able to ride that thing. You crank it up and you hang on to the side of the track just by centrifugal force. It’s amazing.”
Velodromes are cycling tracks with 42-degree banked walls. They’re popular in Europe, but almost non-existent in the Southeast. That’s about to change.
Construction begins this month on the U.S. Cycling Center in Rock Hill, S.C., which will host world-class facilities for five different cycling disciplines on a 1,000-acre site situated on the edge of the Catawba River. The center will offer seven miles of singletrack, a permanent cyclocross track, a 1.5-mile paved criterium course, a BMX Supercross track, and a 250-meter concrete velodrome.
“There’s nothing else like this in the country,” says Spencer Leudner, the co-founder of Cycling Center Partners, a citizen-based group supporting the project.
The city council of Rock Hill, located thirty minutes south of Charlotte, N.C., recently voted to move forward with the $5 million project using bonds from the recovery package, which they’ll pay back over several years through hospitality taxes. Rock Hill council members are convinced that a comprehensive cycling center will attract two-wheelers and their wallets.
According to current plans, the National Cycling Center will be the heart of a comprehensive housing and retail development on the riverside site. The proposed village and park will also include boat launches on the Catawba River, a piece of the growing Carolina Thread Trail, and a climbing wall.