Cycle Chicago, Road Ride, Ed Rudolph Velodrome
The Ed Rudolph Velodrome is an amazing place. Run by the Northbrook Park District, it’s open to the public, so you can watch races or have the thrill of spinning around the smooth, gently banked track yourself - on any kind of bicycle. As Chicagoland’s only velodrome, this can be a busy place with events, activities and races almost every evening throughout the season. It’s less busy during the daytime. Check out this great track, but watch out…you might get hooked!
Smooth asphalt pavement coated with concrete slurry and paint.
Take Metra’s Milwaukee District North Line to Northbrook and go five blocks east along Walters Avenue. At Orchard Lane, go south three blocks to Meadowhill Park. Enter the track from the north side of the velodrome.
By car, exit Interstate 94 northbound at Willow Road and drive about one mile west to Waukegan Road. Turn right and drive about one mile north to Maple Avenue. Turn left, drive a short distance to Meadowhill Park and follow the signs for the velodrome to the left.
Food and Drink
Concessions are sold during events. Otherwise, vending machines provide drinks.
There are only two other similar tracks in the Midwest: the Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis, Ind., and the Washington Park Velodrome in Kenosha, Wis., the latter of which opened in 1927 and is the oldest operating velodrome in the country. Although they are not nearby, both of these 0.21-mile tracks are worth visiting.
The open-air Ed Rudolph Velodrome has been in operation since 1960, and area cyclists are lucky to still have this magnificent facility. Over the years, the track fell into disrepair and was almost abandoned. Instead, aggressive fundraising and outreach saved the velodrome, and the track was rebuilt in 2004 and resurfaced in 2005.
With its lights and spectator seating and as home to all track racing in Illinois, the velodrome may seem formidable to casual cyclists or amateur racers, but don’t be intimidated. This is a very safe, welcoming place, even for kids. The track is open and not crowded most days during the racing season (mid-May to the first week in September) to anyone who wants to tool around, as long as it’s not raining, which makes the track slippery. In addition, the velodrome holds weekly “stock races” when any bicycle from BMX to balloon tire can be ridden, as long as it has at least one working handbrake.
The stock races are aimed at encouraging one and all to try out the track and test the competitive waters in a fun, casual atmosphere. Riders, who must wear a helmet to participate, are grouped by age and expertise level. A limited number of track bikes are available for rent by the day or season. To reduce weight and maximize speed, such bikes have no brakes and employ a fixed rear gear, or cog, that does not freewheel. Be prepared, however, that you’ll have to brake by pushing back against the pedals.
Other events and programs offered by the Northbrook Park District, in conjunction with the Northbrook Bicycle Club, include Ladies Night, coaching, practice sessions, training clinics, motor-pacing sessions and races with names like Individual Pursuit and Flying 200. Individuals can rent the velodrome for private functions. Consider joining the strong community of people who keep the track going.
The velodrome is named after Ed Rudolph, the inspiration behind the original bicycle track at Meadowhill Park. He was a Northbrook Park District Commissioner from 1947 to 1975, longer than anyone else has ever been.
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0.0 Start at the entrance to the velodrome and bike counterclockwise 1 … 10 … 100 or however many times you wish.
0.422 km / 0.262 mi
5 m / 17 ft
5 m / 17 ft
198 m / 648 ft