Day 12 - Velodrome

Tuesday - August 16, 2016

One of the events I was most looking forward to seeing in person.  A velodrome is an arena for track cycling featuring steeply banked oval tracks.  In order for the riders to stay perpendicular to the surface when they are riding on the banked tracks they have to travel at racing speeds, which can exceed 52 mph (85 km/h).

The riders in these events have special bicycles that have no brakes, and have a single fixed rear gear that does not freewheel.  This helps maximize speed and avoids sudden braking while allowing the rider to slow by pushing back against the pedals.

The Rio Olympic Velodrome was the last event venue to be completed as it was decided that the existing Velodrome used for the 2007 Pan American Games was dismantled in 2013 after it was not approved by the International Cycling Union for Olympic Events.  A new Velodrome shaped like a bicycle helmet was designed by German architects who had designed several Olympic cycling facilities.

Velodromes are built remotely and then delivered to their site to be reassembled, which in the case of the Rio Olympics was problematic, experiencing delays, changes in contractors and the delivery of the Velodrome delayed until the end of July 2016.  This meant that all test events were cancelled and the only testing of the track was accomplished by the cyclists training before their events occurred.

Although the day I attended was crash free there have been some spectacular mix ups in the Rio Olympic Velodrome so far these games.