What is a track designed for cycling called?
A velodrome is an arena for track cycling. Modern velodromes feature steeply banked oval tracks, consisting of two 180-degree circular bends connected by two straights. The straights transition to the circular turn through a moderate easement curve.
The first velodromes were constructed during the mid-late 19th century. Some were purpose-built just for cycling, and others were built as part of facilities for other sports; many were built around athletics tracks or other grounds and any banking was shallow. Reflecting the then-lack of international standards, sizes varied and not all were built as ovals: for example, the oldest velodrome in the world, at Preston Park, Brighton, UK (1877), is 579 m (1,900 ft) long and features four straights linked by banked curves, while the 536 m (1,759 ft) Portsmouth velodrome, in Portsmouth, UK, has a single straight linked by one long curve.
International competitions such as the Olympic Games led to more standardisation: two-straight oval tracks quickly became the norm, and gradually lap lengths reduced.
Banking in the turns, called superelevation, allows riders to keep their bikes relatively perpendicular to the surface while riding at speed. Bicycles for velodromes, better known as track bicycles, have no brakes.
Velodrome tracks can be surfaced with different materials, including timber, synthetics and concrete.