On a chilly Tuesday evening in April I made my wayto a field across the ravine from the San Diego Zoo. Having read about it and seeing the track on a few rides, I was excited to find out that there were races and that this oddity wasn't just a training ground. San Diego is home to one of four Velodromes in California and one of 28 in the united states. It is here that you can witness the sport of track bicycle racing. Every Tuesday and Friday night from the time change in the spring to the fall a few dozen individuals compete in a few styles of races for an end-of-season trophy.
Here's a sport that we've seen a time or two in the Olympics. Folks on fixed gear bicycles chasing each other around a track to see who is the fastest. The rules are simple. No passing on the inside, and don't come in last. With banked corners and specialized bicycles the riders can reach speeds in excess of 40 mph when they are sprinting. While not as fast paced as NASCAR and with fewer crashes, the racing is still exciting to watch. There has been a venue in San Diego since 1916; though the location has changed a few times. The current Velodrome in the Morley Field Sports Complex was opened in 1976 and has been in operation since then. With a maximum bank of 27˚(called the cant or superelevation) this 333.33M (1094ft) concrete track has been host to several esteemed competitions. It is known as a winter training ground for the US Sprint team and Olympians because of our mild climate.
As one of the first modern sports, Velodrome racing has been around since the mid 1800s and is still going on regularly. Today's tracks mostly share a common design; though some are not ovals, all are banked. The angle of the bank is what allows the speeds observed in the racing. There are many types of races and most riders cycle between 22 and 27 miles in a night.
As a spectator it's a perfect week-day or Saturday night retreat. Everything about it is BYO... from food to beer to friends. It's a good place to geek out over bikes as there are tons of bikes to ogle over. The best thing is that it's free to watch! For the curious there are classes available and bikes are included with the class. Write-ups elsewhere mention bands and sometimes donated/free food and beer for the masses. This little niche of fun in San Diego is off the regular beaten path, but is a spectacular sight to see.