March 22, 2020 AUSTIN, TEXAS – I always wanted to do something fun, grassroots and safer than our typical high speed, expensive aero bike racing and having been served the lemons of our current Covid-19 health warnings, here is the lemonade. Create your own grass track velodrome near your house, share it at different times with your friends. Let’s defintely stop group rides and maybe just ride with your one biker buddy and even possibily at opposite ends of the track with your bluetooth headphones to chat. So here’s what I created, make your own and adjust dimensions based on your own preferences.
Materials: 500ft of Braided Nylon Mason’s Line (Home Depot $8.97), 30-40 Nuun tubes (or whatever markers you want to use), package of 100 bamboo skewers from grocery store ($1.00)
Math: I wanted a 250 meter track for starters, so I started with the ends of the track as my first mathematical pursuit. Half of the circumference of the track will factor in as the distance for each end, so mine is 35 meters at one end and 35 meters at the other end. Then each straight away would be 90 meters on each end.
So next my mason string lengths would be 11.14 meters for my radius to make the half circles. I converted this to feet (because I’m in the USA and I have a 3 foot measuring stick = 36.54 feet). I wrapped this 12 times plus the .54 and added extra inches to wrap around my tubes. I met a biker buddy Dave W. who is a local coach and trackie, so he got this concept fast. He helped me setup the first half circle and I just put in bamboo skewers in the grass forming our half circle.
Then we took the next string on tubes that was 45 meters (147 feet wrapped 49 times around my 3 foot measuring stick) and we walked out that stretch. Wow, it was really long. I planned on doubling the 45 meters twice to get to 90 meters, but we chose an angle and direction to minimize any bluebonnets destruction in this field and ran out of space. So we decided 160 meters was a good start. (35 + 45 +45 +35) We add the bamboo skewers along our line.
At the end of our first straightaway, we started the other half circle. Added our bamboo skewers then we waked our straightaway across to join the ends and mark the other skewers. I was only off by one meter when joining the two ends, so for a first try it was good enough for us. This is not a regulation UCI track.
I’m a Nuun ambassador for 2020, I like their electrolytes and I like upcycling and recycling. Before this situation, I had other upcycle Nuun tube ideas and my local Nuun reps Kelly & Thadius saved tons of tubes for me after events. Use whatever items to mark your course, but please don’t leave these items behind.
Next we rolled up all our the string and then put the Nuun tubes upside down on the bamboo skewers. Dave and I then just did laps for about an hour and chatted about the different tracks that we have ridden and trackies that we know in Austin. We don’t have a track in Austin, but we do now. Capacity 2
Dave took off and then I put in my boothtooth earbuds, put two blinking lights at each corner and I did one additional hour of pedaling. Note: yes we brought our gravel bikes out and after our Thursday night ride, I returned with my biker buddy Dennis and his two kids to get some fresh air before a rain storm and shoot some drone videos.
I hope that you can create your own grass track velodrome, try some low speed local fun and its even a way to ride outside with your family. We talked about group rides of 10 here at the grass track. However as the reality sets in of our current situation, maybe 4 at each end max is all we should do. I left the bamboo skewers in place and I just put down my Nuun tubes before riding and pick them up when I leave.
I will try different track dimensions and post those lengths here. I’m curious what dimensions others will try and what corners others will use as well. This is safer than a criterium course in a parking lot. It’s good low speed power. My arms were super sore after 2 hours of riding here and I was zone 2 the whole way. Next time I will wear gloves or tape up my thumbs because I bounced around so much that there was lots of friction on my brake hoods.
If you want to make comments, go to my Strava: Joel Rierson and look at my grass track velodrome post. (fyi: I know “track” and “velodrome” are redundant, but most people are track noobs so I decided to stick with it to share the experience as best that I could through the title.)