The legacy of Alpenrose Velodrome will live on

Posted by on February 26th, 2021 at 3:10 pm

It’s no coincidence that the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill, South Carolina bears a striking resemblance to Alpenrose.
(Photo: City of Rock Hill)

The news earlier this week about the closure of Alpenrose Velodrome hit our community hard. As we take stock and think about what comes next, here’s something from reader that might help mend broken hearts.

This story is from former Portland resident Spencer Lueders:

I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina and just saw the news regarding the track and surrounding property. Very sad to see it. I wanted to share with you a personal story about Alpenrose.

I was clerking during my second year of law school at a Portland intellectual property law firm in the summer of 1998, and during my time there I visited Alpenrose. It was my first track racing experience, and I fell in love with the speed, finesse, and discipline.

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Those feelings never left, and within 3 years I had developed a plan to build a velodrome in the Carolinas. That effort became the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Without my experience at Alpenrose and the inspiration it gave me, the Giordana Velodrome — and the adjacent Rock Hill Supercross BMX track, road course, mountain biking, and CX — would not be. These cycling amenities have been the single largest economic impact driver in the history of Rock Hill, and have produced national and world champions while positively impacting the community and young people in particular.

So while this is the end of a legendary facility, its legacy carries on. The ripple effects can be seen all the way to the Carolinas.

Cheers,
Spencer Lueders

Thanks for sharing that Spencer. Seeing images of Giordana Velodrome is so inspiring. I hope we can build something like that in Portland someday!

(Images of Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill, South Carolina.)

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

Aloha Spencer. Thanks for sharing.
Do share with us if there are any reports that document this facility’s impact on the local economy. just for our files.

Keith
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Keith

I’m probably being a dreamer, but with all the demand for parks and the positive impact of sports participation, one would hope there would be some way for a public agency, private organization, or company to acquire or lease the velodrome, baseball fields, and/or go cart track for public use.

Mike Quigley
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Mike Quigley

Money. Money can buy anything in America.

bdlandoe
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bdlandoe

I’d love to see Portland International Raceway build a velodrome. It would give that facility life beyond the leaded-fuel-burning use it has today.

King Cully
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King Cully

Vanport Velodrome… Has a nice ring to it!

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

Yikes, I didn’t realize tetraethyl lead was still being used in racing fuels. That’s disgusting, and needs to be abolished.

JJ
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JJ

Ugh…Does all bike racing in Portland have to be relegated to PIR?

Suburban
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Suburban

People will pay to gamble on anything turning left at speed. When it comes back to Oregon (not the dogs) it’ll be bigger, faster, more fun, scandalous and corrupt than before. Monetize it and they will come.

John Dillon
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John Dillon

Very cool! Charlotte has a great velodrome.

Lazy Spinner
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Lazy Spinner

Memorial Coliseum needs to be remodeled with a velodrome and indoor track and field facility. The Winterhawks can play at The Moda Center.

Gary B
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Gary B

I must say, I’ve never watched a bike race (or track and field) in my life. But I absolutely love this idea and would attend just because the venue.

BradWagon
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BradWagon

My work HQ is in Rock Hill and a trip a few years back coincided with the Masters Track Championships. Such an awesome place between that and the other tracks nearby. Now… Rock Hill outside of this venue is a suburban nightmare so not sure we should try and totally emulate some far flung sprawling venue but if even a bit of this could be recreated close to town that would be a major win. The Portland Meadows location could have been something like this, off the top of my head.