The Thunderdrome: Unearthing a Gem in Detroit

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Let's time travel. It's 1969 and we're in Dorais Park, Detroit, near E. Eight Mile and Mound Road. Construction has just been completed on a brand new velodrome -- a cycling venue consisting of a steeply banked, concrete oval loop, 250 meters long -- in anticipation of the U.S. National Track Championships held there later that year. This Championship and the many that follow are bright spots in a declining neighborhood. For the next 20 years, the city maintains this bastion of bike racing against urban devastation, marked here by the closure of the Chrysler assembly plant across the street.

Eventually, the Dorais Park Velodrome is abandoned by the city and handed over to the elements. Illegal car races are sometimes held here, accelerating the cracking of the concrete that was only designed to sustain bicycles, while bushes, grasses, and trees split apart the fissures. Two decades of neglect take their toll.

Welcome to 2010. A group of renegade urban landscapers, known as The Mower Gang, take their lawn care equipment to Dorais Park, unearth the velodrome, and begin rehabbing the battered beauty. It's renamed The Thunderdrome, an homage to the post-apocalyptic Mad Max film series from the '80s, and a race is staged for two-wheeled vehicles that October.

As race organizer Ben Wojdyla writes, "the Thunderdrome wouldn't be limited to just bicycles. We wanted higher speeds and more excitement. We wanted loony subcultures, weirdos, a scene, a spectacle—something people could get excited about. So in addition to traditional fixed-gear road bicycles, geared bikes and mountain bikes, we also invited racers on mopeds, scooters and pit bikes". The Fall race is a success, drawing hundreds of spectators and racers and spawning the demand for a Spring race, which will take place this Saturday, April 30, at noon. Detroit reinvention and DIY spirit charge headlong into the future of the city.

The latest issue of Bicycling Magazine, with holdings at all AADL locations, has an article on the Thunderdrome, as does the October 2010 issue of Popular Mechanics. Check out the Thunderdrome's website for more details on the race.velorace3velorace3

The Richest Horse Race in the World

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Bookmakers say no clear favorite has emerged to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup this Saturday allowing it to shape up into a very exciting race filled with equine and human drama. Entries include horses from the United Arab Emirates, United States, Japan, England, Ireland, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the Chechen Republic.

Japan has three horses entered including Buena Vista (Japan’s 2010 Horse of the Year), who arrived in Dubai well before the earthquake and tsunami hit. She is a very popular horse in a country wild about horse racing. Many hope a win by her (the only female in the field) will cheer on the tragedy-struck country.
One of the six horses considered to have a legitimate stake to win the world’s richest purse, South Africa’s Bold Silvano sadly was scratched from the race after pulling up lame in a training run on Monday.
England is expecting big things from Twice Over, back-to-back winner of this year’s Champion Stakes at Newmarket, who was beaten in just over three lengths in last year's Dubai World Cup, as he returns to fill out the exciting field.
American challengers include Gitano Hernando, Fly Down and Kentucky-bred Gio Ponti.

And now for the human race: the Jaguar Style Stakes includes 2011 Dubai World Cup “Best Dressed Lady”, “Best Dressed Couple”, “Best Hat” and for the first time “Best Dressed Man.”

To learn more about the rich and thrilling Sport of Kings try The Blood-Horse Authoritative Guide, History of Thoroughbred Racing in America, and Funny Cide : How a Horse, a Trainer, a Jockey, and a Bunch of High School Buddies took on the Sheiks and Blue Bloods--and Won.

Here are some fantastic racing films: Secretariat, Seabiscuit, National Velvet, and The Black Stallion.

Cricket Not Just a Bug

CRICKET it is not just the bug you hear after telling a bad joke, CRICKET it is not just the bug you hear on a fine summer night, CRICKET it is not just a bug. So what else is CRICKET?

Cricket is a sport, played by the international community, and currently is in the middle of their world cup tournament. Like soccer, another international sport, Cricket does not gain the similar enthusiasm that is received by the sports of baseball, basketball, and American football which are watched and listened to by sports fans on this side of the world. However, the sport of Cricket does have a large following and is played predominantly in the United Kingdom, Africa, and South Asian countries like India and Pakistan.

Although I have family that watch Cricket and hold strong loyalties to their respective teams I am not an avid fan of Cricket. However, this has not deterred me in seeking to learn more about this sport that has largely gone unknown within the United States. With the current world cup tournament in progress I gained more of an interest in the sport and resorted to my family on getting the rundown on Cricket. But if you don't have family who watch and play Cricket like me then the Ann Arbor District Library is here to enlighten you on the sport with a few books that cover the basics as well as some more advanced aspects of Cricket.

For your basic understanding of Cricket check out Cricket for Americans: Playing and Understanding the Game or Cricket for Dummies these two books will get you up to speed on the basics of the sport of Cricket. If you are a player and need to brush up on your techniques take a look at Cricket: Steps to Success or Cricket:Technique,Tactics,Training. With these few books you will surely have a good start on being well on your way to playing Cricket.

Then after taking a look at these books and by some circumstance on a quiet summer day among the sound of crickets you see a sport being played that is oddly similar to baseball you will join in and become among those who played a game that has gone unknown on this side of the world.

Madness of March

Well my fellow NCAA basketball fans it is that time of year again where we take pencil to brackets, grab our lucky rabbits foot and make predictions on who is going to make a run to the final four and who is going to win the title of National Champion.

If you are like me and enjoy talking about those buzzer beater moments then Fifty Years Of The Final Four: Golden Moments Of The NCAA Basketball Tournament may interest you. This book will give you the best moments in the last fifty years of the tourney and you can spend hours with your buddies discussing those legendary moments.

If you like to learn about two legends of both college and professional basketball: Earvin "Magic" Johnson who played at Michigan State University and Larry Bird check out When March Went Mad : The Game That Transformed Basketball. Or if you have ever wondered about what it is like behind the scenes for those teams that make it all the way to the final four find out in Last Dance : Behind The Scenes At The Final Four.

Then again there is the small chance that you may not be a fan of the tournament but still love the game and you like mysteries try Last Shot : A Final Four Mystery.

Whatever is a slam dunk for you the library has you covered from those greatest moments to the basketball mystery.

Josh Cox Breaks American 50k Road Record

A couple of Sundays ago, 35 year old American distance runner, Josh Cox, won P.F. Chang's Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon with a blistering, Olympic Trial qualifying time of 2:17:48. But that's not all. After crossing the finish line, Cox kept running in the 50k race (31.07 miles) and not only won that but set a new American record for the 50k road distance, while coming in just 7 seconds shy of the world record. His marathon pace was a crushing 5:15 minutes per mile, while his 50k pace was only one second per mile slower at 5:16 m/m. Unbelievable. As a litmus test for the age group athlete, the current Boston Marathon qualifying time for men under 35 is 3:10:59, or 7:16 m/m. Josh Cox was running 2 minutes per mile faster than that.

If you're inspired to take a crack at a 5k or an ultramarathon or something in between, the AADL has a wide range of run training resources for both the beginner looking to cross the finish line for the first time and the veteran aiming for a new personal record.

The Australian Open

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Roger Federer's five set thriller versus Frenchman Gilles Simon in Round 2 of the Australian Open this morning has this tennis fan stoked for the action this coming fortnight, where Rafael Nadal goes for the Rafa Slam, Federer attempts to regain #1 in the world, and Djokovic looks to avenge last year's U.S. Open Finals loss. On the women's side, Venus Williams carries the American hopes, while veterans Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are the favorites.

Nearly as hot as the serves that could reach 241.4 kmph (150 mph) are the temperatures that could touch 32.2 Celsius (90 F) this Melbourne summer, so if the ice and snow around here have you feeling blue, check out a fiery match from down under.

The AADL has several recent tennis biographies in its collection, including Andre Agassi's bestseller, Open, James Blake's triumph of the underdog, Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life, and John McEnroe's behind the scenes, Hardcourt Confidential.

Hidden Gems: Books Unjustly Dusty #9: Red Wings

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The recent retirement of Kirk Maltby and the start of the season focus memories on the Detroit Red Wings, one glorious hockey team. Maltby's career with the Wings began in 1996 when he was part of the original Grind Line, considered to be one of hockey's all-time classic lines.

Hockeytown books getting dusty? Shame!!

The Gods of Olympia Stadium describes the Original Six Era with photos and stories of all the greats including Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe and Red Kelly.

Red Wings Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan! covers the entire history of the team with all the highlights.

Hockeytown in High Def: Detroit Red Wings 2008 Championship Season details the entire season as the Wings won their 11th Stanley Cup.

After absorbing all that essential hockey history, cool off with the funniest hockey movie ever: Slap Shot. It launched the careers of the Hanson Brothers which continues to this day!

Go Wings!!

Le Tour de France

Riders competing in the world's most prestigious cycling race, Le Tour de France, completed Stage 2 of 21 today, climbing from Bruxelles to Spa in the magnificent country of Belgium (they enter France in Stage 3). The soggy weather caused one major crash that slowed many cyclists in the peloton down, including American Lance Armstrong, who has said this will be his last Tour.

The televised, three week event will test the limits of international riders with over 2200 miles of picturesque -- yet arduous -- French countryside. This year's Tour began on July 3rd, and the champion will be crowned on July 25th. If Le Tour has you excited about bicycle racing then check out the AADL's collection of books and magazines on the sport of cycling.

The World Cup at the AADL

I’m not normally much of a professional soccer fan (I prefer baseball), but I do like it when the U.S. team wins in world sports! Team USA has made it past the first stage at this year’s World Cup in South Africa, and will play Ghana tomorrow in the Round of 16. If they win, they continue on; if not, they go home. In honor of the U.S. team’s success thus far, here are a few books and movies at AADL about past World Cups:

The Game of Their Lives – The remarkable story of the 1950 U.S. World Cup team, made up of semiprofessionals, which defeated the powerhouse English team in the so-called “Miracle on Grass”, one of the greatest upsets in sports history. (Just like the Miracle on Ice, only soccer instead of hockey!)

Love and Blood: at the World Cup with the Footballers, Fans, and Freaks – A journalist’s account of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, full of funny anecdotes and colorful history.

Sixty-Six – An English boy’s bar mitzvah is overshadowed by the 1966 World Cup final, in which England will play Germany that same day. Starring Helena Bonham Carter.

The Year My Parents went on Vacation – Portuguese-language film about a young Brazilian boy whose parents go into hiding from the repressive military government at the same time that all of Brazil is excited for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico (which Brazil won).

We Wuz Robbed!!

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Galarraga DID pitch a PERFECT game. Even umpire Jim (insert nickname here) Joyce admits he made one of the WORST calls in MLB history. Video clearly shows Galarraga had Donald out at first. In the 135-year history of MLB only two perfect games have been thrown in the same season, 1880. In 2010, there were three.

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