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Now for something different - Grass Velodromes

Old 07-30-19, 08:32 AM
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chas58
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Now for something different - Grass Velodromes

Interesting article about track training on a grass "velodrome" in Kansas.

https://www.velonews.com/2019/07/new...lodrome_497324

Goes back to an interesting quote:
"On the national level, USA Cycling is looking to expand access. “We have 330 million people and we have a hard time finding 20 exceptional riders to come and race on track,” Jeff Pierce, Director of Elite Athletics, Road and Track at USA Cycling, says. “They’re out there for sure. One of our issues is our lack of tracks.”

This is one way to discover new talent...
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Old 07-30-19, 10:40 AM
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We've been doing a Delaware grass track series for years. It's a little different than what Kansas is doing.

We started doing it as a lead up to the cross season. A little bit of the high intensity, short efforts that are needed for cross racing.

We use a 166 meter track and cross bikes with cross tires. We tried longer tracks, but the shorter track helps develop handling skills.

It's easy to set up, easy to run, and a ton of fun to race. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it! If you want more details of how we do it I'm happy to share.

Paul
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Old 07-30-19, 11:28 AM
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Grass track racing can be done in light rain or on wet grass - although tires can deposit mud and grass between tires and frame so lots of clearance is recommended. Lots of fun for both riders and spectators based on my observations in the UK.
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Old 07-30-19, 11:46 AM
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Interesting concept.

I wonder if one could go a little further. Bare dirt. Scoop it out with banking. Water to form it. Then let it dry, it could be as hard as concrete.

Build some kind of Zamboni to resurface.
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Old 07-30-19, 01:23 PM
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We use a 166 meter track and cross bikes with cross tires. We tried longer tracks, but the shorter track helps develop handling skills.
166? I'm curious about the technical logistics to set up and use the track. I'm interested in starting a grass track series in Minneapolis, since the NSC is closing at the end of this year. How'd you decide on 166 vs 333? And generally, what kinds of bike setups/gearing are folks running?
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Old 07-31-19, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by benjovland View Post
166? I'm curious about the technical logistics to set up and use the track. I'm interested in starting a grass track series in Minneapolis, since the NSC is closing at the end of this year. How'd you decide on 166 vs 333? And generally, what kinds of bike setups/gearing are folks running?
A couple of reasons we went with a 166.
Since we're using it as a lead it to the cyclocross season, we wanted to make it so you have to be a decent bike handler. We tried a 250 and even that felt like a drag race. With a 166 you have to plan your moves and get used to your bike drifting in the turns.
The other reason is lack of room. The biggest course we could set up was a 250 and that had to be on a soccer field. They're still playing soccer in August, but the baseball fields are free.

We do all of the normal mass start track races; points, miss and out, tempo, point a lap, etc. One of the favorites is the team sprint, we do that almost every time. We also do a TT every week, more so everyone can gauge their fitness than as a competition.

Setting up the track is easy. I use a 100' tape measure to mark 2 points 82' away from each other and swing a half circle with a 60' 5/8" radius using those points as the center. That gives you 58 meter turns and 25 meter straights, which adds up to 166 meters. I used an online circle calculator and foot to meter calculator to figure out the distances. We've tried different turn radiuses and settled on this. The turns ride well and the straights are just long enough to allow for some tight finishes.
I use small orange cones to mark the inside of the track, putting one every 5 paces as I swing the arcs. Having the cones a consistent distance apart makes it easy to stage a handicap race. I don't bother marking the outside of the track. If you want to ride 10' away from the cones, go for it.
The necessary equipment is minimal, about 50 cones, a can of upside down spray paint to mark the finish line, a chair for the scorekeeper and a stop watch to time the time trial and team sprint.

We just use our cyclocross bikes. If its legal for cross, it's good here. Sometimes we'll run a "pick a gear you like" race where no shifting is allowed, but shifting gears and having brakes hasn't been a problem.
Cross is pretty popular here. Almost everyone who does any kind of racing has a cross bike. That makes it easy. If everyone needed to buy a specific bike no one would do it.

It's exciting that you want to get grass track going in Minneapolis! I'd love to hear how it goes when you get it running! If you have any more questions or I can help in any way I'm happy to!
Paul
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Old 07-31-19, 11:59 AM
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@ ben - that is cool! Thanks for sharing!
@clifford - sounds like what the BMX guys do with their pump tracks I see all around. "road rash" on grass isn't quite as bad as dirt, road or track (the worst of all).

(good thing about cross bikes is you have less pedal strike - some of those "gravel" bikes have knuckle scraping low bottom brackets)
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Old 08-01-19, 10:41 AM
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@1incpa- Thanks so much for the detailed response. That's super helpful. I'm still scouting locations, and having the flexibility to run a smaller footprint track gives us more options. Running CX bikes also makes sense, since more folks have access to 'em (though I'd still like to host a true "track" division).

I'll report back once we get a few test runs under our belt.
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Old 08-01-19, 12:51 PM
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I want one. My All-City bike would be perfect for this.
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Old 08-02-19, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by benjovland View Post
@1incpa- Thanks so much for the detailed response. That's super helpful. I'm still scouting locations, and having the flexibility to run a smaller footprint track gives us more options. Running CX bikes also makes sense, since more folks have access to 'em (though I'd still like to host a true "track" division).

I'll report back once we get a few test runs under our belt.
The smaller footprint makes it MUCH easier.
Also, the inside line will get burned into the grass. I have to measure out the first week we race. The second week, the line is there, but I have to look for it in a couple of places. The third week, it's plainly obvious.
Don't worry though, it'll be gone a month after your last race. We haven't had any problems with the park since we started. BTW, we've been doing this since 2008.

I look forward to hearing about your first races!
PI
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Old 08-02-19, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by seau grateau View Post
I want one. My All-City bike would be perfect for this.
Delaware isn't that far from Philly, come on down! We're starting on Sunday, August 11 at 9:00.
It's at Paper Mill Park on the corner of Paper Mill and Polly Drummond Roads in Newark.

The past few years there has been one in Media, PA. but I haven't heard anything about it this year.
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Old 08-02-19, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by 1incpa View Post
Delaware isn't that far from Philly, come on down! We're starting on Sunday, August 11 at 9:00.
It's at Paper Mill Park on the corner of Paper Mill and Polly Drummond Roads in Newark.

The past few years there has been one in Media, PA. but I haven't heard anything about it this year.
PI
Thanks for the invite! I'll see if I can make it down there sometime.
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Old 08-07-19, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by 1incpa View Post
We've been doing a Delaware grass track series for years. It's a little different than what Kansas is doing.

We started doing it as a lead up to the cross season. A little bit of the high intensity, short efforts that are needed for cross racing.

We use a 166 meter track and cross bikes with cross tires. We tried longer tracks, but the shorter track helps develop handling skills.

It's easy to set up, easy to run, and a ton of fun to race. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it! If you want more details of how we do it I'm happy to share.

Paul
I want to set up a grass track though Baltimore City Rec and Parks. Can you give me a blueprint on how to set this up?
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Old 08-08-19, 02:59 AM
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1incpa
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Originally Posted by AmahlAmahlAmahl View Post
I want to set up a grass track though Baltimore City Rec and Parks. Can you give me a blueprint on how to set this up?
A picture is worth a thousand words.

Where are you thinking of setting it up?

We don't have anything set up with the park system here. We just show up and use the park. That's what it's there for, right?

PI

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Old 08-08-19, 11:35 PM
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Probably an unpopular opinion in this forum but, isn't Grasstrack Racing to Velodrome racing what CX is to Crit racing?

Basically, it's more of a CX thing than a Track thing? Or at least squarely between the two?
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Old 08-09-19, 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Probably an unpopular opinion in this forum but, isn't Grasstrack Racing to Velodrome racing what CX is to Crit racing?

Basically, it's more of a CX thing than a Track thing? Or at least squarely between the two?
I understand you saying that, but in Scotland it's pretty much only trackies that take part
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Old 08-09-19, 04:06 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Probably an unpopular opinion in this forum but, isn't Grasstrack Racing to Velodrome racing what CX is to Crit racing?

Basically, it's more of a CX thing than a Track thing? Or at least squarely between the two?
The simple answer, in our case, is yes.

I started our grass track because I love track racing but live an hour and a half away from a track. I race cross, my friends race cross. I found grass track racing on the net and thought it was a good way to combine the two and to give my friends who would never race on the track a taste of the racing that I love to do.
So, about a month before the start of the cross season in 2008, we started racing grass track. We've been doing it ever since.
I realize that in other areas it is it's own discipline, and I would do it year round, but I'd be racing alone. But as a training tool to get race intensity and a really good interval workout, it fits right in with cross racing.
So yes, for us, it does sit squarely between the two. We use cross bikes. We start with one foot on the ground, like a cross race starts. And we do mass start track races.

Everyone who comes out to our grass track loves it. We have tons of fun and a couple of guys have started racing at T-Town with me. But most of the people who show up are not track racers, they're mountan bikers, roadies and cross racers.

I hope my rambling comments make sense.
PI
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Old 08-12-19, 11:30 AM
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It makes sense. Sounds like fun.
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Old 08-15-19, 01:43 PM
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...or, there is cross racing on old velodromes. Our old cement velodrome is beat up, but it is a great venue for our cyclocross races. There is something about that one lap to go to the finish line where I'm going to sprint around that track (even if I'm going airborne over the cracks) and pass people. I like finishing a cross race by leaping over outer the edge of the track and into the sprinters lane. (the non track people dive down to the sprinters lane too quick anyway).

Its ok though, we have 3 velodromes. Sometimes I try to ride all 3 in one weekend.
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Old 08-20-19, 11:07 AM
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Man, used to motor pace Dorais, some of those cracks have been in it since the late 80's had to know your line well at speed . Used to be a spring ritual filling them in and cleaning up the infield.

Related to the grass track topic a track laid out like this was a great way to start. Very modest banking and narrow. The visual at the top of the track and moving up/down the banking was not intimidating at all for new riders. Yet spend a season on it and you are comfortable anywhere.

I think there is a place for this sort of layout for casual racers and it would potentially transition more riders into the sport from Road, CX, BMX etc.
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Old 08-28-19, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76 View Post
Related to the grass track topic a track laid out like this was a great way to start. Very modest banking and narrow. The visual at the top of the track and moving up/down the banking was not intimidating at all for new riders. Yet spend a season on it and you are comfortable anywhere.
Our latest track is banked at 50 degrees. Its pretty intimidating for new riders. Lots of skid marks coming out of the turns where people were going too slow. riding on the upper rail and looking down is quite a drop...
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Old 10-10-19, 01:20 PM
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We've completed four test runs at two separate locations. Ground softness/smoothness really dictates the ride experience and length of races folks are willing to do. I measured out a 25m rope with a loop at one end that ties around my handlebars. With my bike on the ground, I measure out the first semicircle, mark 50m between center points and measure out the second semicircle. That comes out to roughly a 260m track with 50m straights.

As far as races, we've had fun doing 1 lap TTs, eliminations, madison kilos, and team sprints. For other folks who run these- what other short-distance races have you found that work well?

Thanks @1incpa for all your help with the technical logistics!



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Old 10-11-19, 06:16 AM
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I see a lot of smiling faces in your pics!
I'm glad this is working out for you!
As far as races, anything you do on the track is good for grass track. Just adjust the duration to suit track conditions and racer ability.
Apparently, our track can be seen from space. Here's a link to the google image:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pa...!4d-75.7230064
Sorry, I don't know how to save the image to post it directly.
PI
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Old 10-11-19, 11:23 AM
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I don't know if you can, but cutting the grass real short for the path works well. That is what we do for CX.


Apparently inca's team has a well broken in path for his track:
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Old 10-14-19, 02:05 PM
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Thanks for posting the image, @chas58!
It only takes a couple of race days to burn in the track.
This satellite image must have been taken right after our grass track season. Within a month, the grass has filled in and it's hard to find the track.
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