Monday, October 22, 2012

Frankenbike at the Velodrome

Two Houston cycling attractions that I have wanted to visit for a long time are the Alkek Velodrome and Frankenbike.  a velodrome is a specialized facility with a banked track allowing for high speed bicycle racing on a small circuit and which uses specialized track bikes. Houston is one of the few cities in the US with a velodrome.  Frankenbike is the name of a bicycle swap meet held in various cities in Texas.  It gets its name from bicycles which have had parts substituted from what came from the factory; it is an obvious play on the title of the novel "Frankenstein." (Pretty much every bike I own is a frankenbike.) In Houston, Frankenbike is held once a month at different venues each month.  Imagine my excitement to find that in October of 2012, Frankenbike was to be held at the Alkek Velodrome.  So, after our Saturday bike ride, my wife and I popped across I10 so I could take my first ever looks at both Alkek Velodrome and the Frankenbike Swap Meet.

The Alkek Velodrome is shown at the beginning of this post in aerial view, thanks to Google Maps.  It is located in Cullen Park as part of a sports complex, this soccer and baseball fields on either side:

This is a more down to earth view, showing the banking of the track:

The Alkek Velodrome attracts racers from a large portion of Texas, including College Station, the location of Texas A&M University and Austin, home of the University of Texas.  That said, the Alkek Velodrome would appear to be a rather low key affair.  The "victory stage", shown in the picture below, is consistent with that assessment:

The Frankenbike Swap Meet turned out to be a smaller affair than I had imagined.  There were a few items for sale scattered to either side, but the picture below shows most of it:

The next picture shows a few more things from the swap meet, but is mostly included to show the red and yellow bicycles in the middle of the picture.  Because most people don't keep track bikes laying around their garages, the velodrome rents track bikes.  These two bicycles are two of these rental bicycles.

Because Frankenbike was held at the velodrome, I gather there were more track people there than usual.  This is a picture of a track bike for sale:

I'm glad I got to visit the Alkek Velodrome and Frankenbike, two landmarks of the Houston bicycle scene.  I have to confess, I was not inspired to attend another Frankenbike.  Similarly, I doubt very much I would be want to race at the velodrome, but it is possible that I would return to watch one of the evening bike races.

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