With velodrome saved, track fans prep for big season

Time to hit the banked walls of Alpenrose!
(Photo: Leonard Johnson/HotFoot Photo)

It wasn’t until our community was faced with losing the Alpenrose Velodrome for good that many people realized just how much love exists for this facility.

We recently heard from Jim Graves of the Portland Velodrome Committee and Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Membership Director/Alpenrose Velodrome Director Jen Featheringill about what’s in store for 2019.

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Track bikes to invade Portland for ‘Bone Machine Criterium’ and bike show

Team Ironclad Street Sprints-8

Get ready for some exciting racing.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re a fan of fixed-gear and track bikes, you’re going to love this news: Next weekend (September 9-11) the Bone Machine Criterium is coming to Portland.

Organizers have put together three days of track bike goodness that begins with an event at the Alpenrose Velodrome on Friday.

Ernesto Gonzalez is the man behind the crit. He says the race, which will take place on Sunday in Swan Island (and industrial zone in north Portland) is the first of its kind in Oregon. Riders must use track bikes with one gear only that is fixed — meaning there is no freewheel and the only way to stop is to push backwards on the cranks. Imagine a huge pack of racers riding inches away from each without any hand-brakes. Gonzalez says they’ll be flying through the course at about 30 miles per hour. There will be races for men and women and a cash purse of $2,000 (there is equal payout for men’s and women’s fields and women are especially encouraged to sign up!).

“I’m expecting a fair amount of people to come, race and have fun,” Gonzalez shared with us via email. “Many racers are flying from out of town.” Criterium racers from San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City, Washington D.C., and Mexico are expected to compete.

Prior to the main event on Sunday, there will be a track meet at Alpenrose Velodrome followed by a party at Velo Cult Bike Shop and Tavern. At the party there will be a goldsprints competition ($5 to enter, winner takes all) and the talented group of riders and filmmakers from San Francisco’s Mash SF group will share a free screening of their new film (trailer below)

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Portland track racer making headlines in Berlin

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Kovalcik in Berlin (he’s behind the middle guy in white).
(Photo: Facebook)

Portland resident Zak Kovalcik is raising a lot of eyebrows in the track racing world. The Sizzle Pie Cycling p/b Veloforma team rider is currently in Germany competing in the 102nd annual Berlin Six Day. The event features a form of track racing known as steher, where riders roll behind specially modified motorcycles. The discipline isn’t well known in the states and it’s rare for an American to take part:

Here’s more from CyclingNews.com:

“The all-but-forgotten art of steher racing will have a little yankee flavor added this week when reining US omnium champion Zak Kovalcik competes in the high-speed niche event during the 102nd Berlin Six Day January 24-29.

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Checking in on the Alpenrose Velodrome renovation project

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Castelli will donate $60 dollars to OBRA for every
one of these jerseys they sell (price is $100).

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) is just about $5,000 short of meeting their goal for the first phase of a fundraising effort to replace the pock-marked and cracking concrete surfaces on the venerable Alpenrose Velodrome in Portland’s southwest hills.

The renovation of the straightaways began back in March and has now been completed. “The new portions are amazingly smooth,” says Velodrome manager Mike Murray. The total cost was just over $51,000.

Phase two of the project — the paved infield portion of the track (a.k.a. the apron) — will be equally as expensive. Once all the work is done, Murray says the project will, “Make almost a new velodrome and will keep Alpenrose running for the next 20-30 plus years.”

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OBRA looks to replace aging concrete at Alpenrose Velodrome

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After years of patching and repainting, the time has
come to lay new concrete at Alpenrose.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) has launched a fund-raising effort to rebuild a major portion of Alpenrose Velodrome. The 1/6 mile track located on land owned by Alpenrose Dairy in Portland’s southwest hills has become a crucial part of the regional racing scene and has served as a beloved venue since 1962.

However, despite years of patchwork and paint, the track’s concrete surface has reached an advanced state of disrepair that can no longer be fixed with band-aids.

“Along the straightaways is just terrible,” OBRA’s Mike Murray shared with me today. “Riding around that thing is bumpier than riding on a regular road… If you put a speedometer on your track bike you can’t even read the thing.”

Murray, who has managed OBRA’s track program for as long as anyone can remember, has led teams of volunteers twice a year to repair, repaint, and patch the track surface. After an off-season power-washing job, it became clear that another round of band-aid wouldn’t be enough. After the power-wash blasted away years of paint and concrete patch material, “It was obvious that substantial work needed to be done to keep the velodrome running,” wrote Murray in a recent email to OBRA members.

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Alpenrose Velodrome cleaned up, ready for business

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OBRA volunteer Stewart Campbell
helped pressure wash Alpenrose
(Photos: David Boerner)

The word is in from Alpenrose Velodrome Director Mike Murray: track racing will start this week at the popular track nestled in Portland’s southwest hills (weather permitting, of course).

The announcement comes after a week and a half of weeding, scraping, patching, sanding, and sweeping Portland’s beloved concrete bowl to perfection (or close enough, anyway). The track cleanup effort was a labor of love by a crack team of volunteers.

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