Vroom on the Velodrome

Raven at the Velodrome

Raven and her family have been coming to the Baldwin Center for a long time, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that she found her own unique place to shine: on the track at the Bloomer Park Velodrome. A ten-year-old 4th grader who comes to Baldwin Center’s afterschool youth program, Raven was last Saturday’s stand-out biker. “The velodrome coaches said they were impressed by how well she did, and invited her to come back to keep riding,” said Matt Matthews, Baldwin’s assistant director for the youth program.

Raven has struggled at times to stay focused and be respectful in the program. Like many kids who act out, she was searching for positive attention and a healthy outlet for her energy. Insert Baldwin’s creative adventure programming: Saturday trips to area parks, bike rides (part of the national Trips for Kids program), camping, and model plane construction. These enrichment opportunities, made possible by a grant from the Detroit Auto Dealer’s Association through the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan, offer something outside of the classroom to kids like Raven who have energy and want to be active. They are fun, yet educational, and promote exercise and healthy living.

“After she came home, she went right to sleep. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was around the house. It wasn’t until the next day when she told me how much she had to pedal to keep the bike up over the big turns,” said Halresa, Raven’s mom. “It wore her out, but it caught her mind, and she really wants to go back.

This was the youth program’s first trip to the International Velodrome at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, one of only 26 velodromes in the United States. A velodrome is a special, oval track for cycling that has very steep banks at the turns, and long straight-away runs. The bikes that are used on a velodrome have no brakes, but allow for riders to slow by pushing back on the pedals. The point is to build up to a riding speed and maintain it over the length of the entire track, specifically to not have to slow down over the turns. The velodrome in Rochester Hills was built in 2001 and opened in 2002, and banks at 44 degrees in the corners. Junior riders (under age 18) are given free track time, free coaching, free track bike usage, and free admission to watch racing. Contact them by emailing Dale Hughes, at dale@nas-track.com.

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