Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tony Eberhardt Looses the Velodrome which Brings RMM Out of Hibernation

I’ve been busy. I barely have time to train, let alone blog about bicycling and training. Furthermore, I have made a little resolution to stay out of dramas for a while.

But recent events at the New England Velodrome tempt me out of my hibernation and cause me to comment on an unfolding drama.

As most of you know, the NEV has been lovingly developed by Tony Eberhardt over the last 5 seasons. Tony has poured his infectious enthusiasm into bringing track racing to Londonderry, NH; rallying volunteers and sponsors into transforming a humble go cart track into a venue for seriously competitive bicycle racing.

While Tony started out promoting track events, he branched out into cyclocross, establishing a weekly training series and putting on an annual race. He didn’t stop there, he also developed a BMX track and put on a weekly time trial as well. Tony and the NEV’s motto was “Cycling for Everyone.”

While I didn’t agree with all of Tony’s decisions, I supported him wholeheartedly. I view him as a kindred spirit whose deep love of bicycle racing caused him to continually strive to improve the competitive cycling scene in New England. I never once doubted Tony’s motives or his commitment to the competitive cycling community.

It really comes as a blow to hear that the Velodrome has been rented out from underneath Eberhardt and associates. According to the NEV newsletter distributed today, Kurt Begeman and Jeff Palter of CycleLoft approached the NEV’s property owner, unbeknownst to Tony, and offered the owner a higher monthly rent in order to take over the velodrome. The property owner, looking after his own financial interests, accepted the offer. Tony was informed this morning that he will not be allowed to run the velodrome this season.

It sounds like there will still be track racing at the NEV. So New England has not actually lost anything, other than goodwill.

Surely there is another side to the story, which will unfold over the next few weeks. Begeman and Cycleloft will likely issue a press release that paints a rosier picture than the one Tony relays.

The whole thing just makes me sad. Tony worked his ass off to make the velodrome a viable race venue. He stuck with it when registrations slid when the economy tanked. It just seems wrong that an outsider who had befriended him is now “buying” the track out from under him.

Do I have recommendations? No. Will I race at the “new” velodrome? Maybe. Will I show the ‘new” velodrome the kind of loyalty, respect and dedication (yes I have volunteered to help clear debris) that I showed the NEV under Tony? Absolutely not.