The Forest City Velodrome in London, Ont. is in desperate need of repair and upgrades after years of continuous use. The facility used to be a hockey arena built in 1963 that in 2005 was remodelled into a velodrome. The velodrome unique being the shortest permanent indoor track in the world, measuring 138-metres with the steepest banks on a velodrome at 51-degrees and 17-degree straights.
On Feb. 2 at 11:11 a.m. EST, decorated Ontario cyclists Ed Veal who is the current Canadian and World 40 to 44 Hour Record holder will attempt to ride the short velodrome for 24 hours. The purpose of his ride will be to raise funds for the facility.
“I want to use my bike as a tool for good, to bring awareness to a need and to help out in any way I can,” said Veal about the event. “The group at Forest City Velodrome (FCV) in London are doing an absolute fantastic job for youth cycling and youth development programs. They have a wonderful facility that is in desperate need of upgrades and repairs for it to stay open. It would be a real shame if the area lost one of the most unique sporting venues in the world due to lack of funding.”
The velodrome has an interesting history. The idea for it came from Albert Schelstraete-Coulier who was inducted into the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame in 2017. With the help of his sons Ron and Bob Schelstraete, Rob Good and a small group of people the track became a reality in 2005 with the goal of becoming a youth development facility. The facility is a nonprofit organization with all programming and operations administered by volunteers.
The FCV is in need of updates to its heating and lighting infrastructure. They want to replace the building very old boiler with a more modern radiant system and they want to replace the old high-pressure sodium lights with LEDs.
The building hasn’t seen any significant updates since it was originally built in 1955 as the home of the London Knights hockey team. Veal’s ride is the latest fundraising to try and update the velodromes infrastructure that at in its current state is inefficient.
“When Ed Veal, former member of Team Canada’s track program and all-around cyclist approached the FCV about riding the track for 24 hours in support of us we were so excited,” said FCV board member Tony Fangeat. “Riding the FCV is unlike any other track in the world”.
A significant challenge in Veal’s ride will be dealing with the forces riding such a short track while maintaining sufficient speed to stay grounded on the velodromes steep banks.
“The g-force plays a large part in keeping riders on the track but will also be a huge factor in Ed’s ride, this could possibly be the toughest 24 ride anyone has ever done anywhere,” wondered FCV president Craig Saari.
Canadians are no stranger to 24-hour riding challenges. Cory Wallace is the 2018 winner of the 24-hour world mountain bike championships and this spring Canadian Meaghan Hackinen rode 733.8 km at the 24 hour World Time Trial Championships.
The event on Feb. 2 is open to other riders who can ride with Veal, attempt their own 24-hour challenge or get a tour of the vacility and spectate.
The donating format for the ride can be done on a per kilometre basis with pledges of 5, 10 or 25 cents per kilometre covered to give Veal more incentive to cover the most distance possible in his attempt. For more details on the event visit forestcityvelodrome.ca and to donate visit gofundme.com/the-real-deal-attacks-fcv.