World’s widest 2-1/2-mile bike path hosts diabetes fundraiser

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, without the motors. The human-powered field moves by at far right.

Repeat after yourself: “It’s not a race, it’s not a race, it’s not a race.”

True, but one of 83 Tours de Cure in 2011, a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association held in various locations across the country, did take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 11. The location alone tends to focus the mind on performance.

Consider anyone working the Team Nebo Ridge paceline, “the fastest of the pacelines,” according to architect and former Peorian Craig Burgess, who wrote about his experience on the Fifty Plus section of (registration required).

“All morning long there were shouts of warning as they approached along the wall, and it seemed no matter how fast I was going, they’d pass in a great whoosh of carbon, alloy and air. Once or twice I thought it would be interesting to see if I could hang onto their tail, but it didn’t take long before I realized there wasn’t enough energy in my legs to even try.”

Of course the 1,800-rider event in Indiana isn’t a race (keep repeating) and attracts a great deal of family-based bicycle activity, but it is a good opportunity to get an up-close-and-personal look at the track.

Watching out for Nebo Ridge

Turns out the Speedway is far from a frictionless, pool table of a surface: “Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice and relatively free of bumps and artifacts, but the surface isn’t smooth—it’s grooved, and has enough texture that you feel it, to the point where it even soaks up a tiny little bit of your energy.”

The 2-1/2-mile Speedway also doesn’t come close to equaling the real estate occupied by a modern multi-lane marvel like Georgia’s Buford Highway. “No more than maybe 4 lanes of a multi-lane road or highway. Spooky to imagine driving 225 MPH with 32 other cars in that confined a space.”

Craig the Architect: an interpretation after the event by Lar the Architect. All photos by Lar Davis.

Spooky, indeed. Especially when you consider that the drivers of those 32 cars are interested in driving 500 miles simply to spill a bottle of milk over themselves. (We’ll assume the preferred beverage of spillage for thousands of Buford drivers is coffee.)

So, that’s the Speedway from the vantage point of a bicycle saddle: a car-racing venue, certainly, but capable of hosting the occasional charity bicycle ride. It even includes one attribute reminiscent of the back of a bicycle shop.

“When the track warms up a little with the rising sun, it begins to smell faintly of tires.”

Can it be you can be back home again, even if you’re in Indiana?

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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