Cycling Claremont: The Olde Velodrome

Question: How many of you remember the olde velodrome at Pomona College? Alright, truth is I didn't really expect an affirmative response to the question. More than that, I can hear you now, I can hear the incredulity, calling me an outright liar for fabricating the idea that there was ever a velodrome in Claremont. 

However, and though it was referred to as a "bicycle racing track" rather than a "velodrome", a facility specifically designed for bicycle racing did indeed exist right here in Claremont.  The time was the turn of the century, the 1800s were about to become the 1900s, and bicycles and bicycle racing were on an inexorable climb in popularity. The Pomona College racing team had its own track for a little home field advantage - it was a five lap oval with five foot embanked turns. It must have been a source of local pride, and maybe a source of envy for school teams forced to suffice with laps around running tracks.


Pictured in this photo, from the 1899 Pomona College Metate (the one time annual yearbook) is the bicycle track team, and is accompanied by the following description: "The story of Pomona's athletic achievements broadens out each year and success has never yet failed to be commensurate with the works undertaken. The achievement which deserves the greatest credit, however, is the construction of the new oval-shaped five lap bicycle track with a five foot embankment… It was dedicated on March 4th by an Interclass Field Day. Teams were entered by the Juniors, Sophomores, Freshmen, and by the Preparatory School as a whole. The latter three struggled hard for the possession of the silver cup…"

You know I dig finding this stuff out of the blue. Those old yearbooks; this opens a whole new path of research into Claremont's bicycling history. I bet there is a ton of photos and info in those musty pages. A trip to the Honnold is clearly in order. Look for an update to Fast Digs in the future.

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