The soon-to-released July/August BizVoice will feature a series of stories on cycling in Indiana. One piece will feature an interview with Dean Peterson, head coach of Marian University’s dominant college cycling program (which now boasts 26 national championships).
In addition to the hard work of Peterson and his staff, one asset the team has parlayed into a big advantage is the Indy Cycloplex and Major Taylor Velodrome. Visible to those driving on I-65 on the city’s north side, the bike park is operated by Peterson and the school to serve the public. He explains:
The Velodrome is a unique asset for a school, and three years ago, Marian entered into an agreement with the city to manage the Indy Cycloplex park (over 40 acres). We wanted to retool and revitalize the park and invite the community in a little more – and maybe re-energize to a new level. The city recognized it was hard for them to do that with the money they had, but they looked at us because we could be more autonomous in how we could raise money and be more creative in our operations.
It’s certainly a great synergy and it helps us recruit – and the community gets to come in and race and ride with our riders. We do run this as a city park in a unique setting.
There’s very few Velodromes in the country with the amenities we have here. It was built for the International Sports Festival and the Pan Am Games, and this is an amazing set-up with bathrooms and fountains and places to change. Usually tracks are out in the middle of nowhere. But it is expensive to keep it all going. But I think we were the right people to take it over and have been very happy with our partnership with the city.
He adds that developing the BMX track has been a benefit, as well as a challenge.
That’s been a challenge financially, but we’ve learned a lot and that has more capacity to generate income while making a lot of young riders happy and generate great cyclists. They learn skills there that are very hard to teach anywhere else.
Furthermore, Peterson says the school strives to communicate the history surrounding the Velodrome’s namesake, Major Taylor, as well. For more on this champion cyclist who overcame racial prejudice, visit the Major Taylor Association’s web page.