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Rock Hill Velodrome Opens This Weekend

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Rock Hill's latest amateur sports venue is opening this weekend. It's a velodrome for track cycling. The city hopes to lure both national championships and local cyclists. But for novices, the velodrome will take some getting used to. Rock Hill's Giordana Velodrome is 250 meters long with a track banked at a near 45 degree angle. You have to pedal fast enough so that the bike hugs the track and you need a special bike that doesn't let you coast and has no brakes. Those can be rented there. "I think there's a little bit of a learning curve, a little bit of an intimidation factor," says Rick Anderson, a member of the Rock Hill Bicycle Club. For that reason, the city requires all velodrome riders to take a course before getting on the track. Anderson helps train teachers for that class. "You can control your speed a little bit by putting some back pressure on the pedals. You can use the banking, going up or down, to either increase or decrease your speed," explains Anderson. "There are some techniques to learning to ride on a track. But it is a little bit different than riding a bike you're accustomed to riding on the road." The velodrome has room for 800 spectators and meets Olympic standards. USA Cycling has booked it for the 2012 and 2013 national championship races. And a weekly race series will begin in the summer. The city took out a $5 million loan to pay for the velodrome. About $1.2 million is forgiven at the end of seven years through a federal tax credit designation. Sponsorships amount to about $700,000. And a combination of hotel/restaurant tax revenue and stimulus funds pays for the rest. The velodrome is part of a 250 acre center along the Catawba River that will include mountain biking trails, a BMX/Supercross track and canoe and kayak access to the river.