Len Vreeland
July 7, 1929—September 7, 2005

 

Len Vreeland March 1969 Len Vreeland, with his partner Jack Check, owned and operated the Broken Spoke bicycle shop on Union Blvd. in Allentown, Pennsylvania and was, in the early 1970's, the district representative for the Amateur Bicycle League of America. He was also one of the original founders of the Lehigh Wheelmen Bicycle Club. It was in these capacities that Len Vreeland came to know Bob Rodale. Those in the cycling community know that Bob Rodale, President of Rodale Press in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, first became interested in track cycle racing when he witnessed World Class track cycle racing during his trips to the Olympics and the Pan Am Games as an International Skeet Shooter. As a result of this exposure to track cycling, Bob Rodale began to dream of a velodrome in the Lehigh Valley.

Len Vreeland hosted a number of meetings between Bob Rodale and the Lehigh Wheelmen Cycling Club in the basement of his Broken Spoke bicycle shop. It was during these meetings that Bob Rodale's dream of a velodrome began to take shape. Once the decision was made to actually build a velodrome, it was determined that the velodrome should be patterned after the 333.3 meters Rome velodrome, with banking steep enough for top-level professional cycle racing yet accessible enough for the general public to use the facility on regular bikes for recreational purposes. The banking, at its steepest point, is 27º and 17º in the straight aways. Bob Rodale was heard to say that "if the professional riders wanted to race on 45 degree banking, they can go to Italy." Len Vreeland was one of the original members of the Lehigh County velodrome committee.

velodrome under construction On June 20, 1974 the Upper Macungie Township approved the plan for the construction of a velodrome on land owned by Bob and Ardath Rodale in Trexlertown. The first phase of construction began on July 8, 1974. Len Vreeland was present at the new facility on frequent occassions during the construction phase. In fact, he along with others, hammer in hand, constructed the electrical room which also served for a time as the pump house. Len was also very much involved in building the original chain link fence that would surround the facility. velodrome under construction













velodrome under construction        velodrome under construction












The first race ever run at the new Trexlertown facility was held on October 12, 1975. And on that same date, to help publicize the grand opening of the track, Len Vreeland, at age 46, established a new 24-hour roller-riding record of 717.77 miles, a few miles short of his goal of 740 miles. This feat bettered the old record of 683 miles that had been previously set by Jack Simes. Len wore out four tires in setting the new record. The new roller-riding record was set a short time prior to the first ever race at the velodrome, a race that was won by Mike Malenkoff.



Len Vreeland Len Vreeland Len Vreeland















The above photographs were taken on the day that Len Vreeland established a new roller-riding record - 717.77 miles on October 12, 1975.

Opening night of the first full season of velodrome racing was held on April 30, 1976. The T' Town track immediately established itself in the world of cycling when the U. S. Olympic Team spent the early part of the 1976 season in Trexlertown in training for the upcoming Olympics.

Prior to the existence of the velodrome, Len was well known through out the Atlantic states as an accomplished road racer and as a cyclist that competed in many roller-riding races that were popular in the 60's, and 70's. He also competed as a runner in numerous marathons during this time frame including the Boston Marathon in 1969 and 1970.

One of Len's biggest chanllenges was still ahead of him. Len had a dream of riding a bicycle across the United States. He believed that he could beat the record set by John Marino, a man twenty years his junior. The record had been set by Marino in August of 1978.

 

Continued

 


[Len Vreeland—Epitaph]

[Len Vreeland—Obituary]

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