It doesn't take much prodding to get cyclist Steve Sperry to tell you what he thinks of the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill.
"It's like Disney World," he said.
It's a description and feeling echoed by cyclists around the region and beyond, talking about the 250-meter world-class banked racing track off Interstate 77 in Rock Hill, just south of Charlotte. The concrete track has a 42.5-degree bank (for comparison, the NASCAR track at Talladega has a 36-degree incline), and offers events and programs for kids and adult riders.
The Giordana Velodrome is one of only 20 velodromes in the country and is endorsed by USA Cycling. It will host national events -- along with introducing the area to the Olympic sport of track cycling through rider development and outreach programs.
We stopped by on a recent weekday and found serious cyclist training at the track.
"I love the pure speed of being on the track," said Ben Faulk of Winston-Salem, who was training at the course. He's been cycling for 15 years, racing for 12 and racing on a track since 2007. He now makes the ride to Rock Hill once every week or two to train at the velodrome.
The track hosts races regularly for both adult and junior riders, as well as special events like the (H)our Record Challenge, Thousand Mile Challenge and Lap Challenge.
If you want to go beyond being a spectator, the Giordana Velodrome offers certification courses, including classroom and on-track clinics, to help you get ready to take a spin on the track. Special bicycles -- with no gears or brakes -- must be used on the banked track and are available to rent for $5 for two hours. The track is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1-7 p.m. Sundays.