For cycling fans July signals the start of the annual Tour de France a 23-day, 21-stage bicycle race. The Tour was established in 1903 by Henri Desgrange, a French cyclist and journalist. It has been run every year since except during the World Wars. The modern race covers around 2,200 miles and alternates between clockwise and counterclockwise circuits around France. There are usually 20-21 teams, each with eight riders.
The 106th Tour de France started on July 6, 2019 in Brussels (a nod to Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx) and ends July 28th with the riders finishing on the famed Champs-Elysees in Paris. This Tour is touted as “the highest Tour in history” featuring a record 30 categorized climbs and five summit finishes. Some of the climbs include the Tourmalet, La Planche des Belles Filles, the Cod d’Izoard, the Col du Galibier and the Montee de Tignes. Read more about the Tour de France, its rich history and some of the riders.
Indianapolis also has a rich cycling history as the birthplace of Marshall "Major" Taylor, an American professional cyclist who won the sprint event at the 1889 World Track Championships to become the first American American to win a cycling world championship. There is a new book (2019) out about Taylor’s life, The World’s Fastest Man: the extraordinary life of cyclist Major Taylor, America’s First Black Sports Hero, by Michael Kranish.
The velodrome in Indianapolis is named in honor of Major Taylor and was the first building in the city built with public funds to be named for an African American. The city of Indianapolis won a bid to host the 1982 National Sports Festival however the city was short a natatorium, a track stadium and a velodrome. All three venues were built to state-of-the-art standards via a partnership between the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department and the Lilly Endowment.
In 1987, Indianapolis hosted the tenth Pan American Games and the Velodrome played host to all the track cycling events. In the years that followed the Velodrome hosted many other events including: US Olympic Festival, Junior Track Nationals; Elite Track Nationals; Masters Track Nationals; and Collegiate Track Nationals.
In recent years the venue has suffered a slow and steady decline in condition and usage. Neighboring Marian University has joined with Indy Parks and Recreation Department to resurrect the Velodrome as a part of the comprehensive Indy Cycloplex facility. Together, these entities are creating a new, brighter history for the property.
According to the website AFAR, Indianapolis is America’s most underrated bicycling city. Check out all the cycling options here in Indy.
The Indianapolis Public Library even has a Book Bike. The book bike is a smaller, more nimble version of our bookmobiles. Instead of rolling up to a venue and parking in one spot for the duration of an event, the book bike can post up at several different places at the same event. Since the book bike doesn't rely on people coming to it, it reaches a lot more people! The book bike goes to where the people are! If you would like the Book Bike to come to your event request it here.