Hear the Cyclical Speed of the Velodrome

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Bicycle racer Rick Denman shares the sound of Velodrome racing with us. The wooden sloped track shudders under the weight of a pack of bikes swooshing around. He explains some of the fine points of a sport that once drew huge crowds in this country, and still does in Europe.


Velodrome bicycle racing is a sport that once drew huge crowds in this country. It still has a devoted following, including this listener who offers this sound clip.

Mr. RICK DENMAN (Bicycle racer): My name is Rick Denman, and I am a bicycle racer specializing in Velodrome racing. This is not the Tour de France, where you see Lance Armstrong climbing over the highest mountains in Europe. This is riding on a steeply banked oval, something like if you took a cereal bowl and stretched it out a little bit.

(Soundbite of Velodrome racetrack)

Mr. DENMAN: The ones I like are as steep as a cereal bowl, maybe 45 to 55 degrees, and they're made out of wood because you just can't make cement that steep.

(Soundbite of Velodrome racetrack)

Mr. DENMAN: The sounds you're hearing are recorded at the Rochester Hills Velodrome at Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, Michigan.

(Soundbite of Velodrome racetrack)

Mr. DENMAN: What you're hearing is the slight movement that takes place between the actual surface that we're riding on, which is about a one inch thick plywood with a resin coating - it's actually flexing four foot by ten foot sheets of this plywood that the track is constructed of, and there's flex taking place between that and the steel undercarriage.

(Soundbite of Velodrome racetrack)

Mr. DENMAN: The whole place becomes a big drum when you hear the cyclists go by. You'll never forget the sound once you've heard it.

(Soundbite of Velodrome racetrack)

NORRIS: Bicyclist Rick Denman and the sounds of a wooden Velodrome. If you've got sounds that you'd like to share, please go to NPR.org and search for SoundClips.

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