The nation’s oldest operating velodrome celebrated its 95th year of operation here in Kenosha County on Tuesday night with food, drink, family fun and, of course, premier racing.
Robby Gauss, owner of Total Cyclery Bicycle Shop, 5039 6th Ave. in Kenosha and a member of the velodrome board, was ready to get things started.
“It has been nine long months since (we were in) operation. We can’t wait to get everyone’s feet wet and head into our first major event, which is about four weeks from now,” he said.
Back on the track
Opening night was a culmination of seasoned riders excited to get back on the track and young riders ready to kick off their riding journey. Spectators lined the famous velodrome hill, braving the cold weather to cheer on the riders and support new riders as they embark on a new season.
Kenosha’s Wade West was there to support his 11-year-old son, Will West, who has raced at the velodrome since he was on a trike. “Will’s older brothers have been running Tuesday nights for years. Now we can watch Will follow in their footsteps,” Wade said.
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While Tuesday nights are for trained riders of all ages in southeast Wisconsin and northern Illinois, Monday nights are for the little ones and beginners – with stock bike races for all ages, no trail bikes are needed.
Kenosha County native Kaz Milas has been coaching runners for over 10 years. He was on hand with his family to support the runners on opening day, many of whom he has coached.
“My advice is to just roll. Ride, have fun and learn to love the sport above all else,” he said.
Kenosha County’s Jim Zondlak described the impact Milas had on the Kenosha racing community.
“My son Jacob grew up with Kaz. Kaz has been training Jacob since he was 7 years old and now he has grown up and continues to race. The impact Kaz and the racing community have had on his life is immeasurable,” said Zondlak.
For many of these riders, the Kenosha Velodrome is a staple on their bike journey. Many racers have said the Kenosha Velodrome was where their love for riding began – with many making the complete transition from Track 101 clinics, to Monday Night Stock Bike Racing, to Tuesday Night Premiere Racing.
“If you want to start riding now, the best thing to do is sign up for Track 101 clinics,” said Alexander Riva, a Kenosha native who is in his 14th year of racing. “Try it. Everyone starts somewhere”.
The galley returns
Captain Mike’s Galley also made a return for opening night after a successful summer of 2021, serving burgers, beer and more to attendees. Gauss noted that Captain Mike’s Galley “has been a very successful post-pandemic addition; we are certainly not looking back.
Public Craft Brewing is set to make several appearances at the 2022 Tuesday night events, while Monday nights will feature Kenosha’s specialty Nacho Queen.
“It’s a fun community and a great vibe,” said Reilly Fenters of Bristol, “Ride or don’t ride, just come cheer us on. We are a welcoming community and we are ready to start this season strong.
IN PHOTOS: Cyclists go head-to-head during a big night of racing at the Washington Park Velodrome