Track Racing and the Velodrome: Background information when reading Gold

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Gold by Chris Cleave X
Gold by Chris Cleave
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2012, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2013, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Guidarini

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Track Racing and the Velodrome

Print Review

The first velodrome was built around 1870 in Brighton, England. The word velodrome derives from velocipede (Latin: fast foot), which is the term used to describe any human-powered land vehicle with one or more wheels; and drome, from the Latin dromus meaning racecourse.

There are thousands of velodromes in the world, both indoor and outdoor, located everywhere from Europe to Tahiti which vary in shape, size and materials used - inexpensive tracks are usually made out of concrete, tarmac or even cinder, while world class tracks tend to be made out of timber or synthetics; but to be considered an Olympic or World Championship velodrome the track must be 250m, consisting of two steeply banked semi-circular bends connected by two straight stretches. The banks aim to match the natural lean of the bicycle through the curve, so that the bikes stay more or less perpendicular (i.e. at 90°) to the track even when curving at speeds of 50+ mph.

Track bikes have only one gear and no brakes, adding both to the thrill and the danger of the sport. The International Cycling Union (UCI, French acronym) controls all aspects of track bike specifications. Speed is arguably the goal and attraction of track cycling but strategy plays a large part. In fact some races, such as the sprint, tend to start very slowly with bicyclists vying for the optimum position, as explained by Gold medalist Victoria Pendleton. Track racing requires superior athletic ability and strength in order to reach and maintain the speeds necessary to essentially fling oneself around the track. Team and individual track racing require different skill sets and strategies. Needless to say, all forms of the sport require intensive training.


Useful to Know About Track Racing at the Olympic Games

  • Track Racing is one of four bicycle sports in the Olympics. Road and track racing were both present at the first modern Olympic games in Athens in 1896. Mountain bike racing debuted in Atlanta in 1996 and BMX was added in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics.

  • In the 2008 Olympics there were ten track events - seven for men, three for women. In the 2012 Olympics there will still be ten events but split equally between men and women. The events are for teams and individuals, with a mix of sprint and endurance events.

  • In 2012 the Omnimum will make its Olympic debut. The Omnium features individual riders competing against each other across six different elements on the track. In a controversial decision, it has replaced three previously held events - the individual pursuit, the points race and the Madison.

  • Finished in early 2011, the London velodrome (pictured below) was the first completed, purpose-built structure for the 2012 Olympic Games. The structure is an ultra-modern mixture of treated red cedar (exterior), glass and steel with a treated pine floor for the interior track. Six thousand spectators will be able to root on their team inside this building.

    From above the structure resembles a nickel, after it's been put on a railroad track, stretched oval and then bent upward slightly at the ends. An attractive, modern design, the building is easily recognizable from the air, its style blending in nicely with the surrounding landscape of East London. Once the Games are over the velodrome will become part of a larger complex dedicated to bicycle sports, including BMX.

  • If you miss out on the six days of track racing during the Olympics but happen to be in Scotland during the summer, you'll likely have the chance to catch a bit of track cycling - as the event (raced on flat sports fields) is a popular part of many Scottish Highland Games alongside shot-putting and caber-tossing!
Olympic Velodrome

More Information


Also of Interest
A brief history of bicycles through World War II.

Article by Lisa Guidarini

This article was originally published in July 2012, and has been updated for the April 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Overstory
    The Overstory
    by Richard Powers
    Many glowing adjectives can be used to describe a novel by Richard Powers: brilliant, moving, ...
  • Book Jacket: American Histories
    American Histories
    by John E. Wideman
    In American Histories, a collection of 21 short stories, John Edgar Wideman draws America's present ...
  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
    I Found My Tribe
    by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads
    by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil

    A riveting story of survival, and the power of stories to save us.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.