Local cyclists trying out the tracks at the (nearly completed) Saxton Velodrome situated off Main Road Stoke at the Saxton Field Sports Complex. Photo by saxtonvelodrome.com

Excitement builds as Saxton Velodrome nears completion

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The end is in sight for an exciting multi-million dollar Nelson-Tasman project which began in 2015.

The Saxton Velodrome is a brand-new regional facility to replace the existing cycle track at Trafalgar Park, with the official opening on February 13th followed by a public opening later in February.

The exact date for this is yet to be decided, but ‘we’ll get schools and all the community involved, and have a barbeque organised and some music and so on,’ says Glenn Thorn, Reserves Officer (Assets and Projects) at Tasman District Council.

The velodrome is a joint project between Tasman District Council, Nelson City Council and the Saxton Velodrome Trust, whose mission has been to build an outdoor cycle velodrome at Saxton Field.

The design includes a 333m-long embanked track with a sealed surface width of 7metres and banking ranging from 7degrees to 21.3 degrees. There’s also an inner warm-up track and learn-to-ride area, as well as an underpass which leads riders under the main track.

“The velodrome is virtually complete,” says Glenn. “We have been rectifying a couple of defects in the surface, relatively minor areas that didn’t meet the tolerance specification of the contract document. The line marking is scheduled in the coming days, so it will be good to get that done, so it’s pretty much complete. Other than that there’s just a couple of minor items, like drinking fountains, new padlocks on the gate, another gate to go in the underpass and a couple of bollards.”

Meanwhile, “the track itself just needs a bit of soiling on the outer embankment in which grass seeds couldn’t be sown due to the exceptionally dry conditions of late. There’s also a bit of landscaping and planting required around the outside of the facility, as well as general tidying up between the velodrome and Main Road Stoke,” says Glenn. “This will all happen between now and autumn.”

However none of these minor details will stop the show getting on the road.

“The Saxton Velodrome is very close to being ready for public use – it’s been a long road, and it’s had its challenges, but I’m really pleased it’s got to this point of completion, and it’s going to be great to see the kids and the public enjoying it,” says Glenn.

Just a few finishing touches and the brand-new Saxton Velodrome will be ready for the official opening on February 13th, 2018.
Just a few finishing touches and the brand-new Saxton Velodrome will be ready for the official opening on February 13th, 2018.

Primarily, the velodrome will be a public asset with people able to ride it according to their ability.

“They will be able to go down and cruise around – they might not be doing 70-80 ks per hour like the young professionals, but it’s very much open to the public, and has a learn-to-ride area,” says Glenn.

With a couple of cycle clubs operating in the Nelson region, it’s expected that the clubs will sometimes book the velodrome for organised events, but will likely provide controlled access to the tracks to members of the public during those meets.

Meanwhile, a booking system is planned for major events via the facilities’ website, “and a way of displaying that at the velodrome as well,” says Glenn.

“For example, a club may book the velodrome for three consecutive days, but the public will still be able to access the inner area at any time.”

Schools around the region have been indicating their interest in the ‘learn-to-ride programmes the facility will offer, and the Nelson Marlborough DHB is likely to use the flat track which will be suited to people undergoing rehabilitation.

“We put in the flat track, where you can ride round and round on a flat surface.’ But the velodrome is also attracting interest from outside the region with The New Zealand Sprint Team and Pursuit Team having been in contact with regards to use for training purposes. They are looking at booking the facility between the Commonwealth Games and the World Champs.

“We’ve also had interest from Christchurch,” says Glenn. “Riders want to come to Nelson and vice-versa. People have also contacted us from Taupo about the development process, in particular the ceilings because they are looking to redo their facility.”

Locally, some of the top young riders in the region who have been riding the new velodrome have told Glenn they are ‘blessed’ to have the new track, saying it compares really well with other similar tracks they have used in the South Island.

As far as upkeep of the track goes, “it will be jointly funded through the two councils through our maintenance costs,” says Glenn.

“The upkeep is minor at the moment. It’s mostly just mowing lawns, a bit of garden to take care of, and the drinking fountain. The only upkeep of the track itself for the first twenty years would be keeping the lines repainted, so it’s relatively minor.”

The organising team are looking at selling sponsorship around the track, so companies can advertise on the panels. “There’re around 190 spaces for panels” says Glenn.

“The sponsorship fees will help to maintain the facility. Companies will also be able sponsor the children’s ‘learn-to-ride’ areas, or the underpass, or the track itself. We already have a bit of interest from the public with businesses wanting to put signs up at the velodrome.”

The Saxton Velodrome is the last major asset to be constructed as part of the wider Saxton complex and is the final phase of a long journey for the two local councils, the business fraternity and for members of the public who are eagerly anticipating its opening this month.

The official opening takes place on February 13th for invited guests, with the public opening date set to be announced in the coming days.