Friday evening was the official Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome renaming ceremony, as well as the track racing season opener. Remarks from family members were brief, no doubt as Jerry would have wished, and the evening’s emphasis was on racing.
Racing at the Velodrome is on single speed fixed gear bikes with no brakes.
Racing happens on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; the fastest and most skilled riders race on Fridays. To ride at the Velodrome you need to take a class, which covers everything from how to clip in to a fixed gear bike, to the basics of pack riding. Depending on bike handling skill and athletic ability, riders advance up the ranks (called categories; category 1 is “expert,” category 4 is “beginner”).
Friday nights at the Velodrome are not unlike Thursday evenings at Seward Park–both have a warm community vibe with friends and families cheering–plus the Velodrome has a food truck and a beer garden.
If you’ve never been, the Velodrome is another wonderful facet of Seattle’s fantastic cycling culture. Race announcer Phil Stephens does a great job describing the objective of each race, moment to moment descriptions about the tactics and strategies the racers are employing, and insights into many of the racers as they fly around the track.
Velodrome classes happen through early August; racing happens through September. Rain cancels Velodrome events.