[CR]Velodrome Sounds

To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
From: Michael Allison <cyclo_one@verizon.net>
Subject: [CR]Velodrome Sounds
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006 20:42:08 -0400

I sure was surprised to hear the velodrome sound piece on NPR (I'm an addicted listener to the program). But that was pretty pale compared to the real thing.

The last 6 Day race I attended was at Madison Square Garden, New York City, in the fall of 1961. Imagine a bike track fitting into the space designed for a hockey rink (100'x200'). Because that was about the maximum floor space in the old Garden. I think the distance of that track was 6 laps to a mile, so the bank turns must have been greater that 50 degrees. When I stood at the turns during the primes, I could see the top of the riders head above the BB when they were low on the track. That's steep!! I remained in that infield for six nights watching the action, and for hours afterwards, watching the riders during the neutralized time.

On the first night, I arrived early but the track was not yet finished. The entire track was made from boards about 12 feet long and 3 inches wide (no plywood here). The carpenters nailing each board into place. When they got to the turns, one team would nail one end of a board into place, while other team would slowly bend the plank to conform to the shape of the turn. This was all built on top of a wooden superstructure. The whole track was something like brick laying, one board on top on another until the final shape was achieved.

When the race finally got underway, about six hours later, the sound of the riders on the track was enthralling. Nothing like the NPR piece. Louder, like thunder getting closer and closer, then fading away, and again louder and louder, lap after lap. It was so loud it was impossible to carry on a conversation with the person next to me, or perhaps my breath was taken away by the spectacle and the sound.

Michael Allison
New York, NY