Riding a Gravel Bike on an Abandoned Velodrome: Dorais Park, Detroit

dorais park velodrome detroit

Warning: There’s no gravel in this ride experience video. But, do you reckon that prevented JOM of the Gravel Cyclist crew from having fun riding laps of the abandoned velodrome in Dorais Park, Detroit, Michigan?!

Dorais Velodrome

“The Dorais Velodrome is an abandoned outdoor velodrome in Dorais Park in Detroit, Michigan, USA. It was built in 1969 for $50,000 with mostly volunteer labor by the Michigan Bicycling Federation. The site was donated by the City of Detroit. The track is a one-fifth mile banked concrete track. It officially opened in late-July 1969 prior to the National Bicycle Racing Championships.” – Wikipedia.org

“Numerous races and bicycle training classes were held on the track between 1969 and 1989. These were typically organized by the Wolverine Sports Club and the Detroit Recreation Department.” “The track deteriorated over time making it no longer suitable for track racing. In 1993, the City of Detroit held a public hearing for a replacement track. In 1997, the cost to rebuild the track was estimated at $700,000 according to John Jones of the Detroit Recreation Department. By then, plans were then underway to build an outdoor velodrome at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, Michigan.”

dorais park velodrome detroit

Part of that deterioration came from people driving cars on the track, a surface that was never intended to support the weight of a motor vehicle. However, has not been lost. The Detroit Mower Gang resurrected the track from a severe state of neglect in 2010, and for several years after, hosted Thunderdome.

dorais park velodrome detroit


“The Thunderdrome became host to a free race-oriented event that caters to gearheads of all kinds. From fixed gear bikes that track was used to and 9 classes of motorized speed demons — think cheap go-karts, mopeds, minibikes and everything in between — the park and the Dorais Velodrome were seeing a resurgence.” – Huffpost.com

“The first Thunderdrome event in 2011 saw about 300 spectators and 100 registered racers. By 2012, two events were held including the very first night race at the track. Over 120 racers and 1,850 spectators attended.”

dorais park velodrome detroit

Detroit Invitational of Cyclocross

Around the same time, the Detroit Invitational of Cyclocross was born:
“In 2011, a group of likeminded cyclists affiliated with the RACING GREYHOUND cycling club set out to establish a cyclocross event like none other. The goal was simple, celebrate all aspects of ‘cross! The focus really wasn’t the racing, but the event itself. What started out as a club-specific adventure has turned into an event with a cult-like following.

The concrete of the velodrome is now broken, but thanks to the efforts of many in and around the City, the park has a new life. The Detroit Invitational of Cyclocross looks to continue growing this newfound life. By cleaning the park, hosting this annual event and simply bringing attention to one of Detroit’s hidden historical gems.”

Dorais Velodrome Ride Experience Video

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  1. Avatar Michael Anderson

    Great use of the drone, how many laps did you get?

    • JOM JOM

      Didn’t keep track, but a lot, including the drone spending time in a tree!

  2. Avatar Marcee

    Thanks, enjoyed this and the Detroit video. I was pleasantly taken aback when I saw this title. My middle name is Dorai, not a frequently seen name. I pre-date the velodrome’s1969 birth, and from PA. Cheers!

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