"And at the Revolution, far from the Union Jack-waving strictures of serious minded Olympic 'Performance,' there is a chance for the fans, too, to let their hair down. It's like the bit at a wedding when the speeches are done, the tables pushed to the side, and the DJ puts on the Arctic Monkeys."
The latest issue of Rouleur starts off with an interesting little article titled "Revolution," focused on the Manchester based cycling series of the same name that takes place in the National Cycling Centre Velodrome. And yes, I did in fact spell Centre right, as the Manchester I'm talking about is in England.
velodrome: origin French vélodrome, from vélo cycle (short for vélocipède) + -drome, First Known Use: 1895. Noun
With most of the general American public connecting cycling to the country touring Tour de France, velodromes are pretty much a mystery, and even most "cyclists" would be hard pressed to say where the nearest one is and what goes on there (For those in New England, the closest is the Northeast Velodrome and Cycling Park in Londonderry, NH). That wasn't always the case though, as indoor cycling events use to be quite the rage in social circles. Take a wild guess where the below photograph was taken:
If you guessed Madison Square Garden, NYC, around the turn of the 20th century, then you were spot on. And while cycling hasn't seen the insides of the current Garden in many a long day (there are only two indoor wooden velodrome tracks in the US at the moment: Carson, CA and Boulder, CO), in fact, a style of track racing that is still around today, the Madison, was named after this very same venue. Originally the Madison was part of larger, longer six-day races, where teams of two would race around the clock for six straight days (Sunday, the day of rest, was obviously off limits), although now it is raced as its own, distinct event as well.
Which begs the question, what happened? While cycling had seen something of a revival with that Texan who did, but now didn't, win seven straight TdF's, it has nowhere near the following or air of excitement that the NFL or even NHL has (when they aren't on strike, that is).
Which brings us full revolution back to the Revolution. England itself has seen something of an explosion in interest in cycling in recent years. Having a TdF winner to call their own certainly helps, but it started before he wore yellow, and as a result, hopefully will stick around long after his yellow jerseys are in museums somewhere. This burgeoning cycling scene allows a series like Revolution to blossom.
Will cycling ever regain its popularity with the American public? Probably not. We can always hope though.
(Check out archival films and photos of velodromes and their riders from the United States pre-1939 HERE)
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