OGDEN -- A 100-mile bike tour of Top of Utah will be held May 1 to raise funds and publicity for a proposed bicycle velodrome and field house in Ogden.
The tour is the first step in a continuing fundraising effort by Ogden to build the velodrome, which is tentatively proposed to be built on Wall Avenue near 22nd Street. Called a "field house," it is also tentatively planned to include tennis and archery facilities.
Registration is $50 before April 15, after which it rises to $70, but Josh Jones, Ogden's bicycle coordinator, said that includes a T-shirt and full support on the ride.
There are actually three ride routes, all starting at Ogden's Lorin Farr Park. The longest, 105 miles, goes north up Mountain Road to North Ogden, west to Plain City, then south through Weber and Davis counties to Bountiful, then returns to Ogden.
The middle route, 47 miles, follows the same route but doesn't go as far south in Davis County. The shortest, 28 miles, loops out through western Weber County before returning.
There is also a short "fun ride" for children for a $7.50 admission, which also includes admission to the Ogden Dinosaur Park.
Riders who want to register for the rides can do so on-line, at www.tourdedrome.com.
"What a fun thing for the community," Jones said, "and I would like to make the connection that this is not something new to Ogden. This is Ogden's history."
Jones said he has no illusions that this tour will raise enough to build the velodrome, which is just in the initial planning stages. This ride is mainly to raise public awareness, he said. A second and larger fundraising event will be held this fall.
A velodrome would be a revival of Ogden's history. In the late 1800s and early 1900s bicycle racing was more popular in the United States than professional football is today. Ogden had one of three Utah bicycle racing velodromes, then called saucers. The others were in Salt Lake City's Salt Palace and the original Saltair resort.
A velodrome is a bicycle racing track, tilted as much as 33 degrees, around which cyclists on bicycles with no brakes or gears raced at high speeds.
Professional bicycle racers from around the nation rode in Ogden, competing for prizes. Several thousand people, then as much as 10 percent of Weber County, turned out to watch.
Bicycle racing was popular because bicycles in general were very popular. In the late 1800s millions were sold because they were a cheap replacement for horses, and cars were not yet popular.
The last velodrome in Ogden, built in 1905, was located at what is now Lorin Farr Park but was then called Glenwood Park, where the current fundraising rides will start. It was an outdoor track made of wood.
Bicycle racing in Utah lasted until about 1915, when golf took its place as a pastime and the automobile, thanks to Ford's assembly lines, became affordable.
Ogden has been working for several years to build a velodrome.