bloomerpark velodrome

In the early 20th century, if residents of America’s burgeoning cities didn’t feel like going dancing or to the theater, they had another option for live entertainment: bike racing. Now, thanks to some ambitious bike activists, the pastime has returned to some of the nation’s roughest neighborhoods via crowdfunded, volunteer-built velodromes.

What’s a velodrome, you ask? Picture a wooden Nascar track with high, banked turns. They offer riders dizzying, X-Games-style thrills, as seen in this bike-cam video — and some pretty spectacular spills to boot. They used to be commonplace in the U.S. According to bicycle historian David Herlihy, America’s first velodrome was built in Brooklyn in 1869, and many hockey stadiums doubled as velodromes for epic, six-day endurance races.