Thirsty Thursday: Hellyer Friday Night Lights

Rambler: Beth Drink at Hand: 2009 Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve Zinfandel

In honor of the first night in the Friday Night Racing series tomorrow night at the track, I thought a little Hellyer Park Velodrome love was in order. Terry, who has suffered through supported me at just about every possible form of bike racing out there will tell you that track racing is the most spectator-friendly cycling discipline. Cyclists whip around a 300-meter banked track on fixed gear bikes with no brakes. It sounds dangerous, but the lack of brakes, coasting, or shifting keeps everyone moving at a consistent pace, so events with experienced racers are actually very safe. The racers compete in various events throughout the evening, from 1-on-1 match sprints to straight-forward scratch races to chaotic points races, and there's even a kiddie kilo for the little ones to take a lap around the track.

The Friday Night Races are quality events. Race Promoter Hernando throws a pretty rockin' party at these Friday Night Races, and local racer/photographer/designer-extraordinaire Steve Anderson designs awesome posters to get the word out. Seriously, how cool is this poster? On a typical Friday night you can expect to see numerous world and national champions, current pros, and up-and-coming uberfast racers throwing down the gauntlet and going all out--incredibly fun to watch.

For photographers, the track is stacked with shooting opportunities. Early the evening the light streaming from the west end of the track is great.


The racers are very accessible at the event as well. Between events you can get down on the infield for a different perspective.

A few shots of the racing action...

This is one of my favorite moments that Terry captured at the track...these two had just finished an incredible head-to-head battle in a match sprint. Afterwards, in true Hellyer fashion, they congratulated each other on a good race. That's the best part of the Hellyer community--everyone is supportive and encouraging. A very inviting place to race.

Hellyer Park Velodrome is located in Coyote-Hellyer Park just south of San Jose (995 Hellyer Avenue, San Jose, CA 95111). From the 680/280/101 interchange take 101 south for 5 miles to the Hellyer Ave exit. At the bottom of the off-ramp turn right. At the stop sign go straight into Hellyer Park and follow the signs to the velodrome. The spectator gate is located on the south end of the velodrome (from the parking lot walk counter clock-wise around the track to get to the gate). There is a $6 per vehicle Santa Clara County park entrance fee, but admission to the race is free!

If you can't make it out to the track this Friday, there are more Friday Night Races in August and September. Racing goes on at Hellyer on days and nights other than Friday too, so check the Hellyer calendar to see what's coming up. If you're interested in racing at Hellyer (which I highly recommend!), you'll first need to complete 3 beginner sessions. These sessions are typically on Saturday mornings, but again, check the calendar.


Should be a great weekend...get out and enjoy it!