'It's a loss': Cycling community suits up for final race at Blaine velodrome

For more than a quarter of a century, the velodrome in Blaine, Minnesota has hosted everything from U.S. Olympic trials to U.S. Cycling championships.

But now, the only outdoor wood-plank velodrome in the western hemisphere is on its final lap.

Thursday night, the National Sports Center Velodrome family all said goodbye to the track they’ve loved for years. 

“It’s been sort of a family,” said Mark Steward, who has raced at the velodrome for 30 years. “We get riders from all walks of life, nerdy engineers like myself, bike messengers. We get everybody out here and we all have a great time together. We enjoy the sport.”

“I’ve been, for the past couple of weeks, going through a true grieving process with a lot of tears,” said Linsey Hamilton, who has raced at the velodrome for 13 years.

Built in 1990 of an African mahogany wood, the outdoor facility can no longer withstand Minnesota winters. What repairs fundraisers helped cover five years ago will no longer be enough to fix what needs to be done. 

“This is all rotting,” said Bob Williams, the velodrome director. “Just because of the weather that’s been on it the last 30 years. It has to be replaced.”

The cyclists will now hold on to the memories and the bonds they have made.

“We all love bikes, and we all will continue riding, but it’s a loss of that togetherness factor that were going to miss the most,” said Hamilton.

“You’re all in the in field together,” said Steward. “You’re sort of like family. You know everybody. You ride together, you compete together.”