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July 9 Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Portland is home to many events you don't find in most other places. Among them is the Alpenrose Velodrome. One of only 20 such facilities in the United States, it has been the site of numerous national and international cycling events.

I went to photograph the final day of the Alpenrose Challenge, an annual meet featuring some of the best riders in the U.S. and Canada.

All velodromes have steeply banked corners to help the riders make the tight turns on the relatively short track (268 metres at Alpenrose).
Alpenrose's curves are unusually steep—43 degrees, compared to 25-33 degrees at a typical velodrome. That means that the minimum speed through the corners is about 11 mph, otherwise the bike won't stick to the track. That's not a factor in races like the time trials, where riders average over 30 mph. However, in the sprints, where the riders try to strategically position themselves with respect to their opponent, they sometimes try to go too slowly through the corners and the bike slips out from under them.