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Revamped Forest City Velodrome reopens


The Forest City Velodrome has climbed back from the brink.

The track cycling venue, once one of few in North America, briefly closed last year after 20 years of operation.

But now, a new group of volunteers has taken over the facility to continue the vision of its late founder.

Many Londoners over 30 know the velodrome as the former home of the London Knights. But the Knights left in 2001.

Four years later, The Forest City Velodrome replaced the ice rink.

A hidden sports gem: The Forest City Velodrome reopens (Sean Irvine / CTV News London)Heading in for some laps Saturday, long-time member David Bee reflected on the challenges of keeping the track open.

"The fact it survived this long is a small miracle itself," said David Bee.

The Forest City Velodrome was originally the vision of an 86-year-old Tillsonburg man.

CTV London followed Albert Coulier as his plan went from a paper dream to reality in April 2005.

"It’s here. It’s done, and it is ready to ride. Come and see it," told CTVs Sean Irvine at the time.

And since then, many have.

Still, the Velodrome has long struggled to sustain itself.

Last spring, the facility shut down, and it appeared the dream was over.

But members rallied. A new board has reopened the facility.

Scott Matthews is a member of the board of directors of the Forest City Velodrome (Sean Irvine / CTV News London)"We still have a lot of work to do," confesses Scott Matthews. He sits on the board of directors

But there is not a lot of time to do it.

Unless more members join, Matthews says it will be a struggle to continue beyond the spring.

But new events and new faces are helping.

Greg Buragina is among them. He joined late last year.

"I was speaking with another member, and we were both surprised there is not a line-up at the door."

But those already inside include all age groups, from the young to seniors.

83-year-old Jim Gilchrist joined ten years ago.

Jim Gilchrist, an 83-year-old retired physician joined the Velodrome 10 years ago (Sean Irvine / CTV News London)The retired physician was encouraged by a former patient.

"He was cycling here at 94, and he said, 'why don’t you start?' I thought why not"?

Like many, Jim admits it was frightening at first.

"When I first started on the track, I was petrified. But it just looks intimidating, it isn’t."

The velodrome has offered learn-to-ride programs since its inception.

Now, it needs more cyclists to sign up to ensure its future and Albert Coulier’s legacy.

"We’re cautiously optimistic that a lot of people are still excited to see Albert’s dream fulfilled." Top Stories

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