Champion cyclists Danielle Mullis, 12, of Rochester Hills, Mich., and Tom O’Rourke, 75, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., were honored for their outstanding achievements by the Rochester Hills City Council at its January 25, 2010 meeting. Mullis is wearing her National Championship USA Stars and Stripes jersey, and O’Rourke is wearing his World Championship jersey. Both athletes train at the International Velodrome at Bloomer Park (IVBP) in Rochester Hills.

Champion cyclists honored

Two cycling athletes who train at the International Velodrome at Bloomer Park (IVBP) in Rochester Hills were honored for their outstanding achievements by the Rochester Hills City Council at its January 25, 2010 meeting.

According to Bruce Carlson, one of the cycling instructors at the IVBP, Danielle Mullis, 12, of Rochester Hills, was recognized for winning four gold medals and the U.S. National Championship Stars and Stripes Jersey during the USA Cycling Junior Track National Championships in July 2009. Tom O’Rourke, 75, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., was honored for setting two new world records at the UCI (International Cycling Union) World Master’s Track Championships in October 2009.

Mullis began track cycling at the IVBP in the summer of 2008 along with her father and brother. She is the second person from the IVBP to become a U.S. National Track Champion in the last 12 months.

According to an interview posted on cyclingmasters.com, O’Rourke competed on the U.S. Olympic team in Helsinki, Finland, in 1952. “I was 17 years old at this time and was the youngest rider on the U.S. Olympic team,” says O’Rourke. He did not compete from 1964 to 2007 and returned to competitive cycling after training at the IVBP.

Carlson says one of the goals they focus on at the IVBP is to develop young talent, and they are starting to see some very positive results. “In addition to Danielle, her brother Luke competed in the Junior Nationals in the 10-12 age group with a top 10 finish, and Nick Console, 16, of Oakland Township, also competed and rode to a 5th place, two 8th places and two 11th places in the highly competitive 15-16 year old age bracket. We also work with cyclists of all ages – as evidenced by the success that Tom O’Rourke has achieved.

“Cycling is a great family experience,” adds Carlson. “Instead of the youngsters playing video games and watching television, they can come out and ride with their parents and friends. Cycling is a fun sport for all ages. There are riders from age 8 to 80 who regularly ride and train at the IVBP – cycling can be a lifetime sport. Even experienced bike racers will increase their speed by training on the velodrome.”

The IVBP is a facility for all ages at all stages. A crew of dedicated volunteers runs the day-to-day operations of the velodrome. The IVBP was paid for by private donations through the non-profit Mike Walden Velodrome Fund administered by the Community Foundation of Greater Rochester. The velodrome was built by volunteers from the cycling community. Although many of them had never seen a cycling track before, they came out to build the steel and wood structure. Volunteer welders, carpenters, earth movers, children, adults and senior citizens worked side by side, week after week to complete the project. Since opening day in May of 2002, a dedicated crew of volunteers operates and staffs the cycling programs and does the maintenance work at the velodrome. The IVBP is located in Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills and is the only one of its kind in North America.

Free track time, free coaching, free track bike usage and free admission to watch racing is available for junior riders (18 and under). The Track 101 Intro Class is free, and the adult first-time ride and bike/equipment are free. Other nominal fees apply. For example, an individual single day pass is $10, and bike/equipment rental is $10 per day. A season pass to ride the velodrome is also available. More information can be found at http://www.velodromeatbloomerpark.com/

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