A cycling velodrome wasn’t on the list of “must sees” in New Zealand, but when our friends from Puketurua suggested we take a drive to Cambridge and visit the newly built Avantidrome, I got a bit interested.
As a road cyclist (and MAMIL), I enjoy getting out on my bike, so any novel cycling experience doesn’t require a lot of persuasion to get me on board. I didn’t know what to expect before arriving at the Avantidrome, New Zealand’s home of the National Cycling Centre of Excellence, but I was very soon in awe!
I have often enjoyed watching the Olympic and Commonwealth Games indoor cycling on television, but had never before been to a track, nor appreciated the intricacies of the sport.
The Avantidrome (yes, Avanti is a key sponsor), is a world class velodrome (UCI category 1), and was officially opened by HRH Prince William & Princess Catherine on 12 April, 2014. The facility was built at a cost of $NZ 30M. The cost was shared equally between the central and local governments, gaming and community trusts and commercial sponsors.
Here are some of the interesting facts:
- The roof of the velodrome is a clear span, 77m across and 120m long – bigger than a rugby field
- The highest point of the roof is equivalent to a six storey building
- The track length is 250m
- The track was constructed with 52km of 40mm x 40mm Siberian spruce boards, and required 1.5 tonnes of nails to secure
- Maximum slope of the track is 43.5⁰ on the corners, with a minimum slope on the straights of 13⁰
- The top speed achieved on the track to date is 75kph, by Eddie Dawkins.
The thing that most amazed me was the steepness of the track at the corners – 43.5⁰ is very steep! I can’t fathom how the cyclists stay upright and don’t slide down to the infield……I guess it’s their momentum and the centrifugal force they generate which keeps them in position on the track.
I’m going to give it a go next time I visit New Zealand. For only $15 you can have a go, and the price includes a one hour session, bike, helmet plus instructor.
By the way……the track bikes have no gears and no brakes!