From early spring to late fall, the best-kept secret in Wednesday night entertainment must be track bicycle racing at Dick Lane Velodrome (DLV) in East Point. Built in 1974, the banked track is a battleground for shoulder-to-shoulder competition on brakeless fixed-gear bicycles, and the best part is that the Wednesday night racing is FREE to spectators. “It’s the best kind of bike racing to watch because you can see the whole race,” says Jeff Hopkins, DLV operations manager.
Why no brakes? There are a couple of reasons, but the biggest is that track bike racing is all about beating wind resistance. Riders draft inches behind one another at speeds greater than 40 miles per hour. The lack of brakes makes it harder to quickly change speed, meaning that painful pile ups are less likely.
One of just 26 banked bicycle tracks in the United States, according to the American Track Racing Association, DLV is the only one in in Georgia. Racers drive hundreds of miles weekly to compete on its concrete surface. Three weekends per year, DLV hosts racing festivals in which professionals come to town to do battle in a variety of events.
The track is a true community effort, relying on donations and volunteers to operate. Local athletes donate their time to keep the grounds clean and in working order. The East Point Velodrome Association offers classes for beginners and programs for kids. It also loans bikes, so anyone can take a spin around the track.
Check the DLV website at http://www.dicklanevelodrome.com for information on events, and head to East Point for some exciting bicycle racing. It’s the only thing like it in Georgia!
Jim Hodgson is a humor writer who enjoys going outside. He is the Editor in Chief of Atlanta’s own satirical newspaper The Atlanta Banana (atlbanana.com). His latest book is “How To Mount Aconcagua,” a mostly serious guide to climbing the tallest mountain outside the Himalayas. He can be found at jimhodgson.com, on twitter at @jimhodgson.