Bicycle racing kicks into high gear as Marymoor Park Velodrome hosts the 2012 Grand Prix
July 25, 2012 · Updated 11:06 AM
"This velodrome is my favorite and I am definitely a little biased," said Tela Crane of Sammamish. "This is where I grew up riding and it is a pretty good feeling when there are people saying my name all the way on the track, supporting me whether I do well or not."
Crane ended up claiming first place in the Elite Women, Bike Central Sprint category. Her next goal is to participate in the 2016 Olympics.
Marymoor Park is the home to the only velodrome in Washington. The arena consists of two, 180-degree racetracks braced tightly against one another, allowing cyclists to elevate up the bank or drop down for a speed dash.
"There is a great family atmosphere among the competitors," said David Mann, director of the Grand Prix. "For the most part everyone gets along and are friends while in the infield, but tough competitors out on the track."
The final races began at 7 p.m. on both nights with qualifying rounds set earlier in the day. The Grand Prix featured several national champions as well as competitors from other countries, who raced on fixed-gear bikes with no brakes at speeds up to 40 mph.
The event offered a wide range of activities: From women and men sprints, Masters from age 35 and older, to the Kiddie Kilo in which children were welcome to test out their bike skills.
As part of the night's entertainment, kids from different age groups were dispatched onto the racetrack separately while their parents cheered along.
An announcer also kept the crowd on their toes from a tower above with witty remarks while broadcasting the event live through the Internet.
At around 8 p.m. last Friday night, one of the wildest races, the Keirin Final, took place. Around eight competitors followed behind a scooter as it accelerated up to 30 mph. The scooter later exited the track and the cyclists competed in a one-lap dash for the finish line.
In the end, it was two-time Olympian Giddeon Massie from Pennsylvania who sealed the prize.
"Ah, I felt good," said Massie, as he described the moment he zoomed past the finish line. "You are a racer, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and you have a lot of opportunities — it's great to take a win out."
Massie competed in the Olympics in 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing.
According to Mann, the racing keeps getting better and better each year with faster and more evenly matched races.
This year, prizes were once again given out; the bigger prizes included $350 to the first place winner of the Bike Central Match Sprint and $250 to the second place winner. Collectively, around $15,000 was given out during the event.
For the Marymoor Crawl, up to $100 was collected from the audience and awarded to the racer who endured the longest time on his or her bike without putting a foot down or falling.
The Grand Prix event offered food stands and clothing for purchase. Spectators were also encouraged to bring their own family picnics.
The finale of the night, Madison Garden, named after the home of track cycling in the 1920s, was delayed when sprinklers accidentally sprayed the track, making it unsuitable for racing. It was moved to the next day along with the scheduled races that took place last Saturday.
For more information regarding the Grand Prix, visit www.velodrome.org/marymoorgrandprix.
Joshua Chin is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.