Posted by Editor on 10/17/97
WomenÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s World Cup The UCI has placed on the international calendar for 1998 a women's World Cup race in Ottawa on 14 June. It will be one of six events -- CoreStates Liberty Classic, 7 June in Philadelphia will be another. Others are slated for Australia, Holland, France and Switzerland. Details are sketchy at this point, but the events may be restricted to national teams. (Thanks to Frank Stanley of USA Cycling for this news) World Cup Final Tomorrow is the final event in the professional road World Cup - the Tour of Lombardy in Italy. It should be an interesting race, since the current leader, Rolf Soresen of Denmark canÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t compete due to a fractured hand. This leaves an opening for 5 other riders to take the overall victory if they can win (Bartoli, Rebellin, Tafi, Tchmil and Sciandri). The Story of the Delhi-Windham Track For several years, the velodrome at Delhi has been in pretty bad shape. Built as it is on a disused gravel pit filled with garbage, it has not stood the test of time too well. It was resurfaced about 12 years ago but the the benefits of that have long since been lost. This year, stalwart volunteers had to pluck the wild flowers out of the cracks in the track before the Provincial Championships could begin. The building of the track has an interesting history and I am not going into too much detail because one Belgian or another from the area is likely to stomp all over me. The story goes that the track was begun by a strong committee of track enthusiasts after the indoor track in Delhi was torn down. The land was dedicated for the use as a cycle track with a 99 year lease - or so the story goes. Part way through the construction, the committee had some major disagreements and went their separate ways. A survey of the track actually reveals that the degree of banking varies on each corner. This is, reportedly, because each corner was done by a different sector of the warring factions. Certainly, Albert Collier played a big part in the design and work on the track. However, in the end, it was left to a willing band of volunteers led by Marcel Thysman to finish the job off and they laid every inch of asphalt by hand - or so the story goes. Gradually the local Belgian community showed less and less interest in the track, except as keen spectators. As far back is 12 years ago, the support by the community was so poor, the OCA actually organized the Provincial Track Championships themselves using its own staff. It was during the hey days of the 80's that the track came into its own. There were several Clubs that existed practically solely for track racing such as the Top Notch Racing Team and the Cyclops Cycling Club. Provincial Championship participation reached all time highs with over 100 competitors and racing required over 3 full days. A weekly track league was well supported and inter-city events were held. The track's staunch supporter, Marcel Thysman, who always sat on the bleachers watching whether one person was training on the track or there was a full blown meet going on, died unexpectedly and an annual Memorial Track Meet was initiated in his name with the blue ribbon event of the day being the Marcel Thysman Memorial Madison. In the 1990's, racing took some different turns in Ontario and, despite the efforts of Keith Davidge, the Hadfields and the Forstners, numbers dwindled. There were, probably, three reasons for this. The first was political upheaval within the Ontario Cycling Association that decimated Road and Track racing from which it has never fully recovered. The second reason was the advent of the small, demonstration track (bowl) at Fonthill that drew people (and riders) to it in droves and took the stalwart 'trackies' from Delhi. The third reason was the deterioration of the Delhi track itself. Large cracks appeared and the track suffered from a significant amount of heave each winter. Ironically enough, the track still has a good safety record, probably because riders regard it with respect and top sprinters NEVER use it. Even before this happened, Delhi was not regarded as a particularly desirable racing venue by various coaches that were not interested in track racing and their opinions have greatly deterred participation over the years. Despite the cracks, the rather bumpy surface and the naysayers, track racing continued to be alive and well at Delhi but with greatly reduced participation. 1997 saw over 40 riders at the Championships which was great, considering the preceding few years. A weekly track league enjoyed good support sporadically depending upon the racing calendar for the weekend. Perhaps the greatest successes were in the support of the largest group of women riders ever seen on the track (with some considerable national success later in the season) largely due to the interest of Lakeshore Womens Cycling Team coach, Steve Karpyk and an interest in track racing by the Toronto bicycle couriers who demonstrated some pretty able riding skills and considerable ability. For about 5 years now, repeated efforts have been made to reinstate the track to a more acceptable condition. Several times it nearly happened and then something would go wrong and it was 'back to the drawing boards'. There was a basic lack of communication between the Community Centre Board, the OCA and the people organizing the track program. Two years ago, it got as close as it ever could and then negotiations broke down when there was a suggestion to build a Fonthill type track on top of the old track in plywood that would never have withstood its first Delhi winter. All looked lost. With his love and passion for the sport, there was one person who would not give in. Keith Davidge continued to organize the weekly track league, the Championships started to grow again and 1997 saw its first mixed (1 man, 1 woman) Marcel Thysman Madison - probably some kind of world record. Keith developed a relationship with the Community Centre members to the point where they were keen to see the facility improved and trusted him to take on a coordinating role. The OCA Board was approached and supported the plan but efforts to secure a reliable contractor for the work broke down at the local level. Undaunted, Keith continued the quest. He continued to discuss the issue with the Community Centre and approached the OCA Board with a proposal to release the Track Fund money that had been accumulating as a levy in the OCA coffers for quite a few years. This was approved and full support given by the OCA. What was left was to find the additional money and a reliable contractor. Several surveys were done of the track and a number of proposals put forward: 1. To repair the track surface by saw-cutting, removal and disposal of 2250 linear feet of cracks. Supply and install HL3A (hot mix) ashalt patch with S.S.1 tack coat to all edges. 2. Upon completion of #1, to supply and install 1" of HL3A (hot mix) ashpalt to surface of entire track with S.S 1 tack coat applied as transition coat. 3. 4' Extension to inner apron of track to form a proper Cote D'Azur and ride off area. 4. 10' wide warm up circle within the track centre with entrances and exits to the track itself. A quotation was subsequently submitted in late September covering each of these proposals individually. The contractor was solicited via professional contacts by Keith Davidge and Arnold Pilzeker (Dad of successful junior woman, Jennifer Pilzecker). At its meeting on Tuesday 14th October, 1997 history was made. The Wind Del Community Centre Board approved quotation #1 to effect repairs to the track with the work to be started this fall and to contribute the shortfall between the OCA Track Fund and the actual cost. Contact was immediately made with OCA Chair, Susan Brown, who has instructed the release of the Track Fund to the Communtiy Centre. At the point of writing, all that remains is for the contractor to confirm his proposed starting date. It may not be all everyone wished for but the cracks will be gone and this will, in turn, smooth out the surface considerably. There is life in the 'old girl' yet. Hopefully, the local community will realise this and start to develop a grass roots program of its own again. As a point of interest, with the exception of the internal circle and apron proposals, this was the recommended route by those involved. No one could guarantee the likely lifetime of any total resurfacing job and it was considered not to be a wise investment. 1997 saw an amazing event in the history of the Delhi track - the weekend of the Old Tyme Bicycle Races - where Penny Farthings were sprinting down the home straight three abreast. This, the successful Championship events and the relentless efforts by Keith himself have all contributed to reaching this zenith when we can say: 'the track will be repaired for 1997'. Given that everyone involved leads very busy personal and professional lives and that cycling is not the first love of the Community Centre, and therefore not top on its priority list, this is a remarkable, if rather slowly achieved, accomplishment. There are many people in the cycling world, in Canada and abroad, that consider track racing is in for a major resurgence in popularity. Wind Del Community Centre, the OCA and Keith Davidge in particular are following a world wide trend to upgrade existing track facilities. This one may be modest by comparison to some but, for Ontario and Canada, it is a major step. Delhi remains the best track in Eastern Canada.
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