After more than 15 years of both aspiring and professional cyclists taking laps around the track, the Forest City Velodrome (FCV) will close its doors in London, Ont., on Friday.
The closure was announced on Thursday after the FCV board of directors said it was notified 10 days prior that the owner of the building said that it “will pass on a new lease and are pursing alternative plans.”
Operating in the city since 2005, Craig Linton, president of the Forest City Velodrome Association, told Global News that it has been operating the lease on a month-to-month basis.
The Forest City Velodrome was the first indoor velodrome in Canada and was one of only four in the country.
Linton said that on behalf of the region’s cycling community, “we are heartbroken.”
“Many young riders started cycling here and have gone on to race all over the world,” he said.
“We had a lot of riders come down from the Kitchener-Waterloo Cycling Association to train here on a weekly basis. … Even kids as young as seven years old come to ride the track here and have a good time. Seeing those riders grow and develop over the years, turn into amazing athletes — it’s going to be sad to see that opportunity is now lost for everyone in the London area.”
Sarah Mann, a youth cyclist and parent coach with connections to the FCV, said “not having a velodrome in the area is heartbreaking for our family.”
“The region has been so incredibly fortunate to have the velodrome at its fingertips,” Mann said. “Not only does it provide riders of all ages the opportunity for world-class training locally, but it also allows casual cyclists the opportunity to safely ride indoors all winter, away from cars and cold weather.”
Linton said that the velodrome’s stated goal has always been, “Getting Kids on Bikes.” But now with the facility closing its doors, he reassured members that they’re finding alternative ways of keeping the velodrome’s values alive with a new non-profit organization.
The Blackline Cycling Association plans “work to meet the growing interest in cycling in the area,” according to FCV members, as well as foster youth cycling by organizing mountain bike clinics, group racing, and recreational rides.
“We’ve secured space here in the City of London to be able to facilitate some mountain bike programming over the wintertime,” Linton said. “Another key aspect of the Blackline Cycling Association is to promote and facilitate corporate sponsorships and municipal partnerships moving forward in order to hopefully realize the construction of a new velodrome.”
He hopes that in the next three to five years there will be a new indoor track somewhere in the Forest City.
Linton adds a big thank you to all the volunteers and members who helped keep the Forest City Velodrome up and running over the last 18 years, saying it’s been a good trip around the track.
“It’s been a good run. Thank you so much to so many people who have kept the doors open here.”
More information about is available on the Blackline Cycling Association website.