San Jose is home to the only velodrome in Northern California. Hellyer Park Velodrome was built in 1963 and hosted the US Olympic Bicycling Trials in 1972. It’s not just for experienced cyclists—all types of cyclists are encouraged to ride the track. Each Saturday morning, novice sessions are held to teach beginners the basics of racing, safety, and track etiquette. Cyclists don’t even need a bike to ride at the velodrome: track bikes can be rented for as little as $5.
“Many of the riders and racers in our community started by riding fixies on the street,” says Elizabeth Hernandez-Jones, Vice President of the Northern California Velodrome Association. “Hellyer gives them the opportunity to take their riding to the next level and transition to racing on the track.”
People come from as far south as Monterey to as far north as Siskiyou to learn, ride, and race at Hellyer Velodrome. “We also host several events throughout the year where riders come from across the country to contest racing here in San Jose,” Hernandez-Jones says.
Not all riding on the track is about racing. Many riders come out for the fitness aspect of the sport. The skills learned on the track can translate across all types of cycling and other sports, too. “Good balance, sprinting, and speed skills also get bolstered when you ride the track,” Hernandez-Jones says.
A common misconception about riding on a track is that it’s a dangerous activity, but Hernandez-Jones says it is no more dangerous than riding on the road. “Most events are overseen by a Hellyer supervisor to make sure everyone is safe,” she says.
If you aren’t quite ready to take a ride on the Hellyer Park Velodrome, Friday night races at the track are always exciting to watch—the spectating is free.
Written by Flora Moreno de Thompson
Photography by Gregory Cortez
This article originally appeared in Issue 6.0 “Discover”