The Six-Day Bicycle Racing "Spirit Keeper"
In the history of six-day bicycle racing in Canada there is one person who has transcended the decades from the Golden Era of the 1930's to the first decade of the 21st century. A person who has been a six-day racer, trainer, coach, promoter, velodrome architect and builder, veteran racer and bicycle builder. An individual that has been the keeper of the 'six-day racing spirit' for eight decades, that person is Albert Schelstraete/Coulier.
Albert Schelstraete was born on November 15th, 1918 in Longpre along the Somme River in Picardie region of Northwestern France. Albert immigrated to Canada in 1927 with his family. His mother, stepfather and family settled in the agricultural region of southwestern Ontario. In this area of Ontario there existed a vibrant Belgium immigrant community that worked in the tobacco and sugar beet fields of Delhi and Tillsonberg. By 1930 Albert, at 11 years old, was an active helper on the farms participating in the harvest of sugar beets and other agricultural products. This is where Albert got his first exposure to cycling. He would cycle from home to the farm and along the dirt pathways and fields of the large farms.
For the next six years Albert grew into a strong young man and through winning a bet with his stepfather he won a trip to Belgium to stay at relatives and participate in the kermis races, which are almost a daily activity in Flanders during the summer months in Belgium. So at 18 years old Albert learned the cycling trade, training and racing in the Flemish Ardennes near Oudenaarde, Ronse, Mouscron and Waregem. The Kermis is a cycling festival that usually occurs on the narrow country roads around a small village. The racers ride a loop of 8-10kms for 50-65kms that starts and finishes in the village square. The racing is fast and tight as the young racers compete for prize money and notoriety. This is where the scouts for the professional cycling teams will notice the up and coming talent. The cycling fans line the course at key corners and the finish line. Betting is a prominent sporting activity as bookmen have chalkboards up in the village square and fans can make a friendly bet on their local heroes. Albert was a natural racer, loving the speed and the tactics of the kermis. This is where he learned the bike handling skills that would assist him later in his six-day racing career. During the spring and summer of 1937 he participated in over a dozen kermis races, winning four. Albert's Belgian sojourn was cut short when a road crash landed him in cast for twelve weeks, where he returned to Canada. This period of inactivity inspired Albert to want to become a professional racer.
Cycling is to Belgium what hockey is to Canada. All cultures embrace a sporting activity that becomes a mirror of their world-view. The spirit of Flanders and the magic of track racing is what Albert brought back to Canada. The cycling heroes of Canada were not road racers but were six-day bicycle racers. The 6-day circus had captured the imagination of the North American sporting public. Newspaper sports pages were filled with articles on the six-day chase and daily evening reports could be heard on the radio in New York, Chicago and Toronto.
As mentioned previously, the Belgian community in southwestern Ontario was very strong. In 1939 Albert built his first velodrome in Delhi, a 200 meter outdoor wooden track with seating for 1000 people in the grandstands.
Albert joined the Norfolk Cycling Club in Delhi. He would ride in the early morning before his farm work began where it was not uncommon for him to put in 60-80km. Albert would pitch hay during the day and train at the track in the evening keeping his six-day dreams alive. Albert rode an inexpensive heavy steel fixed gear bike.
The first Delhi Six-Day Bicycle Race for amateurs was held July 24-29, 1939. Albert was 20 years old at that time. Racers came from Montreal and Toronto. Jake Busch and Jack Crowder came from Buffalo. At the Delhi-6 Albert was partnered with Rene Cyr from Montreal and they were the team to beat. The grandstands were full every evening with spectators eager to watch the racing. The track was build with wood planks vertically laid side by side. The sound the riders' wheels made as they rode the boards was dramatic and inspired the racers and the cycling fans. In the end Rene Cyr and Albert were victorious. This victory was pivotal for both Albert and Cyr as they both would become professional six-day racers the next year, in 1940.TOP
- Delhi Six-Day Bicycle Race, July 24-29, 1939 with Rene Cyr (Can), 1st place.
- Chicago Six-Day Bicycle Race, November 10-16, 1940 with Jack Crowder (USA), DNF completed 2 days of racing
- Buffalo Six-Day Bicycle Race, March 20-26, 1941 with Gerald Debaets (Bel), 5th place.
- Montreal Six-Day Bicycle Race, October 12-18, 1941 with Gerald Debaets (Bel), DNF, 7th place after 5 days of racing.
- Montreal Six-Day Bicycle Race, September 28-September 3, 1942 with Gerald Debaets (Bel), 5th place
- St. Boniface, Manitoba, August 25, 1940, 10 Mile Team Bike Race with Gus Popelier, 2nd place
- St. Boniface, Manitoba, September 2, 1940, Letellier-St. Boniface Bike Race, 100km, 2nd place. According to news reports Albert was edged out at the line by local favorite Vic Nuyten of Le Club Belge. Albert was racing for Norfolk Racing Club of Delhi, Ontario
- Summer 1937 Vlaanderen, Belgium
- Nazareth, 65km, 1st place
- Hillegem, 50km, 1st place
- Eine, ---, 4th place
- Asper, 60km, ---, 6th place
- St-Denijs-Boekel, ---, 1st place
- Te Moeskroen, ---, 1st place
- Auwegem (Bosch), 40km, 3rd place
- Te Ronse, ---, 2nd place
- Vosselare-Nevele, ---, 4th place
- Waregem, ---, 3rd place
- Auwegem, ---, 3rd place
- Asper, ---, 7th place
Excerpts from a Conversation with Albert
'The Fix is Off'
New York Six-Day Bicycle Race October 30 - November 4, 1949
This race was the 13th six-day event that had been staged in North American since the Second World War and the venue was New York's 22nd Engineers Armory. It was New York City's' 70th six-day race. Albert Schelstraete from Delhi, Ontario had been contracted to build the wooden track for this event. On the final evening with the arena filled to capacity Albert witnessed a very dramatic finish to the race.
An Australian team comprised of 25 year old Reginald Arnold and his veteran partner 33 year old Alfred Strom had been attacking the favourites all week. The race had been a rough and tumble affair with four riders being hospitalized soon after the race started. Gulio Rossi (Ita) and Milio Carrara (Ita) were two of the riders that crashed heavily and spent the night in the hospital. The other riders returned to the track with minor cuts and bruises. As well, Bill Roberts (Can) from Montreal abandoned. Only 7 of the original 13 teams would finish the race.
The pace was fierce and by day four Arnold and Strom were tied with Rigoni/Terruzzi and the Italian-French tandem of Redolfi (Ita) and Raymond Goussot (Fra). On day 5 the Aussies gained a lap and were now in the lead going into the final day of racing.
The favourites, Italian sprint champion 35 year old Severino Rigoni (Ita) and his 25 year old partner Ferdinando Terruzzi (Ita) were frustrated with the infernal rhythm of the Australian duo. Arnold and Strom had been winning sprints and jams all week and had amassed an insurmountable lead in points.
In the final day of the race, Rigoni and Terruzzi gained a lap and were now tied with the upstarts from down under Arnold and Strom. A showdown was in the cards. During an intermission Arnold and Strom were resting in their trackside bunks when the promoter John Baruche (or James 'Jimmy the Whale' Proscia) visited the Aussies and offered them a financial settlement if they let Rigoni/Terruzzi win. The 165th Street Armory was packed with a partisan Italian crowd and the promoter was hoping that a victory by the Italian favourites would send the local spectators home satisfied and wanting to come back.
The Aussies were part of a new breed of riders that wanted to get the six-day game going and bring back the speed and endurance of six-day racing in the 1920's -1930's. The bottom-line was, six-day racing would survive on good fair racing and not local fixes. Incensed, Arnold returned to the track and hammered like a man possessed. With the fix off Rigoni/Terruzzi tried to catch the emotionally charged Australian duo with a massive effort but it was all for naught as the high gear Australians, Arnold and Strom crossed the finish line in 1st place winning their first six-day race.
A month later in Germany the rivalry continued in Europe where Rigoni/Terruzzi won the December 1949 Berlin Six-Day with Arnold/Strom in second, ahead in points 309 to 195 but 1 lap in arrears. Arnold/Strom won the next two Berlin 6-day races in 1950. Rigoni/Terruzzi won the New York 6-Day in March 1950 but without the Australians present.
The team of Reginald Arnold / Alfred Strom won 5 times out of the total 25 they raced together. Arnold raced with his 1949 New York 6-day rival Ferdinando Terruzzi (Ita) twenty-two times winning 5 times.
Severino Rigoni continued to race 6-days until he was 42 years old. His last victory was at the 1957 San Paulo Six-Day in Brazil when partnered with Bruno Sivilotti (Ita). Similarly, Alfred Strom raced six-day events until 41 years old. His last victory was at the 1957 Louisville Six-Day partnered with John Tressider (Usa). Strom retired to Belgium, living in the Flanders.
The post WWII revival of six-day was short lived in North American. The costs of staging a six-day marathon bike event were too much for most sports promoters and the sporting public seemed to gravitate to team sporting events such as baseball, football and hockey. Even though the six-day races were on primetime radio and the new medium of television, interest in the "race-to-no-where" faded.
There were thirteen six-day bicycle races between April 1946 and March 1950. The North American wooden indoor tracks would remain quiet for seven years until the second 6-day race renaissance commenced in 1957.
- 1927 - Immigrated to Tupperville, Ontario (near Wallaceburg) Canada at age 9. Family worked in grain threshing for $1 per day. Albert got 50 cents per day.
- 1931 - He got his first bicycle, a Royal Jenny, for $5.
- 1934 - Trip back to Belgium in spring where he rode his first bike race. Upon return the family settled in Tillsonburg area.
- 1934 - Family moved to LaSalette Ontario (Delhi area) where they remained for 50 years until moving to Tillsonburg in 1984.
- 1936 - On weekends road bike to Chatham (120 miles) to race and returned on Sundays.
- 1936 - Started Delhi Criterium race that continued annually until mid-nineties at the Belgium Hall.
- 1937 - After winning a number of important races here in Canada he was allowed to go to Europe to race as an amateur. He competed in 39 road races and one track race in Europe before his injury the next year. He had 4 wins with a number of top 10 placings.
- 1938 - September he was hit by a truck while returning from a training ride in Ghent Belgium velodrome. He was unconscious for 21 hours with both legs in a cast and told he may never race again.
- 1939 - Albert was asked to design and build his first velodrome in Delhi Ontario.
- 1939- Won Six-Day race partnered with Rene Cyr of Montreal.
- 1939 - Formation of Norfolk Cycling Club - held position of President numerous years and after name change to present name Silver Spokes Cycling Club
- 1940 - Won Six-Day race at Delhi velodrome partnered with Andy McConnell.
- 1940 - Raced in USA placing 8th in the prestigious Tour of Somerville New Jersey.
- 1940 - Placed 2nd in the USA Midwestern Championships in Columbus Ohio after having a flat tire.
- 1940 - Named outstanding Canadian rider of 1940.
- 1940 - Awarded professional contract to ride Chicago Professional Six-Day in November partnered with John Crowder.
- 1941 - Rode Buffalo Professional Six-Day in March partnered with Gerard Debaets of Belgium.
- 1941 - Rode Montreal Forum Professional Six-Day in October partnered with Gerard Debaets of Belgium.
- 1942 - Married Irene Dhulst.
- 1942- Rode Montreal Forum Professional Six-Day in September partnered with Gerard Debaets of Belgium
- 1942 - Racing curtailed with start of WW11.
- 1942 - First son born (Robert, Dec 8/42)
- 1947 - Albert designed and built the world's first portable velodrome and held the first race in Simcoe Ontario.
- 1947/48 - Track built and two races held in Shawinigan Falls and one in Trois-Riviere Quebec
- 1942 - Second son born (Ronald, April 25/47)
- 1949 - Track installed in new Delhi Arena and numerous races, including six-day and 9 day derby's, held in the following 6 years
- 1948 - 2005 - Built numerous velodromes across North America - see separate track listing 1955, 56, 57 - Elected President of Canadian Wheelman's Association (the national governing body for cycling). The name was later changed to Canadian Cycling Association.
- 1957 - Built velodrome and promoted a professional 9-Day derby in Cleveland Ohio.
- 1958 - Built velodrome and promoted a 2nd professional 9-Day derby in Cleveland Ohio
- 1972 - Chosen as the cycling representative for the 1976 Olympic Organizing Committee to travel to Munich for the 1972 games.
- 1974 - Built the Montreal velodrome for the 1974 World Championships
- 197??- Served as National Racing Board Chairman
- 1975 - Coach for Canadian team (Jocelyn Lovell and Andre Simard) at International Trinidad-Barbados race
- 1976 - Built the velodrome for the 1976 Montreal Olympics
- 1978 - Rode bike from Windsor Canada to Florida - 60th birthday
- 1979 - Changed name from Schelstraete to mothers maiden name Coulier..
- 1979 - Mont Ventoux - 10 Stage Brugge Belgium to Mont Ventoux France - 1568 km
- 1979 - Austria - Veterans World Cup - 7th place
- 1979 - Olympic Masters Championship - Belgium - 5th place (after spill)
- 1979 - America Cup (Open to 27 countries) - Gold medal - Sutton Quebec 1st
- 1980 - Olympic Masters Championship - Belgium - 6th place
- 1980 - Austria - Masters World Cup 8th place
- 1980 - America Cup - Sutton Quebec 2nd place (broke toe clip)
- 1981 - Detroit 24 hour race - 1st place - 325 mi. (523 km)
- 1982 - Austria - Masters World Cup 16th place
- 1982 - Detroit 24 hour race - 1st place - 380 mi (611 km)
- 1982 - World Masters Championship - LaRoche France -Hill Climb - 4th - Road Race- 1st
- 1984 - Mont Ventoux - 10 Stage Brugge Belgium to Mont Ventoux France - 1568 km (second time)
- 1985 - World Masters Games - Toronto - Bronze medal
- 1987 - Ontario Masters Cup - 50 mile race - Gold medal
- 1988 - World Senior Games - St George Utah - Gold medal
- 1989 - World Senior Games - St George Utah - Gold medal
- 1989 - Austria - Masters World Cup 8th place
- 1990 - Austria - Masters World Cup 16th place
- 1993 - World Senior Games - St George Utah - Gold medal
- 1993 - Casa Grande Arizona -25 mi open race for all ages - 1st place (127 riders)
- 1994 - World Senior Games - St George Utah - Gold medal
- 1995 - World Senior Games - St George Utah - Gold medal
- 1970's, 80's and 90's - Rode 210 mile TORSV (Tour of Sciota River Valley) in Ohio 21 times
- 1990's - Hand built and operated 2 'Monster bikes' for fundraising for charitable organizations. One was 15 bikes and the other was 7 bikes both of which could be ridden on the road or on special designed rollers with a timing clock for indoor competitions.
- 1939 - Delhi (Outdoor)
- 1947 - Simcoe (World's first portable velodrome) (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1947 - Shawinigan (Fall) (Builder and Promoter)
- 1948 - Shawinigan (Spring) - to Delhi stored (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1948 - Three Rivers Quebec (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1949 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1948 - Buffalo - October 5-11 Six-Day
- 1948 - Chicago - Oct 31 - Nov 6 Six-Day
- 1948 - New York - Nov 15-20 Six-Day
- 1949 - Cleveland - Jan 5-11 Six-Day
- 1949 - New York - Feb 28-March 6 Six-Day
- 1949 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1949 - (Fall) - Detroit (Amateur)
- 1950 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 19?? - Chicago (Stolle track)
- 1951 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1952 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1952 - Chicago (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1953 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1953 - San Francisco (Builder)
- 1953 - Glendale California (Builder and rider)
- 1953 - El Paso, Texas (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 19?? - New York (Delhi track)
- 1954 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1955 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1956 - Delhi (Builder and Race Promoter)
- 1955 or 6 - Louisville, Kentucky
- 1956 - Chicago
- 1957 - Cleveland Ohio (Built track and was Race Promoter)
- 1958 - Cleveland Ohio (Built track and was Race Promoter)
- 1963 to 73 Montreal - Paul Sauve ( 15 times)
- 1965 - Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens
- 1964/ 65/ 66 Quebec City ( 3 times )
- 1967 - Pan American Games - Winnipeg (Outdoor)
- 1972 - Detroit, Michigan State Fairgrounds
- 1973 - Los Angeles
- 1973 - Vancouver BC - redesigned and rebuilt China Creek Velodrome
- 1974 - World Championship - Montreal - (Outdoor)
- 1976 - Olympics - Montreal - (Outdoor)
- 2005 - London Ontario - Forest City Velodrome
Returned to Canada.
NOTE: Every velodrome design is different based on the size, end radii and overall width and length restrictions. Until recently, Albert was the only velodrome designer and builder in Canada. He has built velodromes for six-day races all across North America as well as the 1979 Pan-American Games track, the Montreal 1974 World Championship track and the 1976 Olympic track.
A List of Velodrome's built by Albert
Gaston Rebry Tribute
Because of the good results my father had racing here in Canada, his step-father Jules Schelstraete, agreed to let him return to Belgium to race. He raced junior in a club run by Jules Verschelden. In one of the races Gaston Rebry was following in a car and contacted Verschelden after the race about how well my Dad rode in the race. My Dad stopped in to Rebry's cafe on one of his training rides in 1937 to meet him. My Dad was always very grateful to Rebry for taking the time to talk to him and help him. Unfortunately because of a bad accident while training shortly after that he broke his legs and as a result returned to Canada.
Gaston's daughter-in-law Brenda (the wife of son Jack Rebry) lives close to my father where she runs a store and post office here in Canada.
Albert organized a special race night on his newest velodrome here in London Ontario and invited all the Flemish people in the area to come and honour Gaston Rebry. It was his way of thanking Rebry for the help he had given him so many years ago. He made some pictures etc and asked his friend Arnold Devlin to take them to Belgium on his next trip. That is how Arnold came to visit Nelly Rebry.
Brenda with Gaston Rebry display
Arnold and Albert with Gaston Rebry display
Gathering for the Gaston Rebry tribute
A Story by William Humber
Albert Schelstraete-Coulier: A Lifetime of Canadian Cycling Achievement
by William Humber
Few people are as committed to making the Hall of Fame case for a lifetime veteran of cycling as Sudbury based writer and historian Arnold Devlin is for Albert Schelstraete-Coulier from Delhi, Ontario.
I've never met Schelstraete-Coulier but I'm sure you appreciate why I'll be a little personal in simply referring to this giant of the sport by his first name Albert.
He was born in 1919 in Longpre along the Somme River in the Picardie region of Northwestern France. The family's roots were in Belgium and so it was with their fellow countrymen that he and his parents settled when they immigrated to southwestern Ontario in 1927. Belgian emigrants worked in the tobacco and sugar beet fields of Delhi and Tillsonberg, but their overriding enthusiasm was cycling and in this passion they implanted in the region something more resilient than smoking though few could have known this at the time.
Albert demonstrated so much early talent that he returned to Belgium to live with relatives and race in the "Kermis", a cycling festival of races on narrow country roads around a small village. Racers ride a loop of eight to ten kilometers, a half dozen times or more, with the race finishing in the village square.
The l8 year old, with the familiar last name but an emerging Canadian identity, impressed the villagers of Oudenaarde, Ronse, Mouscron and Waregem in the Flemish Ardennes. Monetary prizes, tight corners, friendly bets, and the presence of scouts for the professional cycling teams turned these races into highly competitive affairs much like the atmosphere of a small Canadian town hockey arena.
Albert won four of the 12 races he entered but his progress was cut short by a crash and layoff of 12 weeks during which he was unconscious for 21 hours. He returned to Canada, a country less enamoured with the glories of cycling's open road competition, but one, along with the United States, that had fallen in love with the sport's indoor six-day form.
Six-day cycling was a true depression era phenomenon, as off duty hockey rinks were transformed into velodromes with the installation of a board track. Upon this oval track two and three man racing teams competed, with one man from each squad required to be on the track at all times. And all times meant just that - 24 hours a day, six days a week, ending just as midnight ticked on Saturday and the Sunday Blue laws came into force.
Though six-day races flourished in Toronto, Montreal, New York and Chicago, Albert didn't have to go that far, at least initially. In 1939 the Belgians of Delhi built their first velodrome, a 200 metre outdoor wooden bowl with lumber planks laid vertically side-by-side. The sound of racers' wheels on the fresh timber was electric. No wonder fans filled the available seating for a thousand people.
The first race in late July 1939 attracted competitors from the big cities but it was young Albert with partner Rene Cyr who stole the show and provided the impetus for him to make his jump to the professional ranks where he would join, among others, the incomparable Torchy Peden, the gangling red head from Victoria, British Columbia, who had dominated the sports for years.
Before the jump to the pros however Albert was named to Canada's 1940 summer Olympic team. It was a dream not to be realized however when it was discovered he still had Belgian citizenship. The opportunity became moot, more catastrophically, when world war two caused the cancellation of the games of 1940 and later those of 1944.
Albert was a professional in the concluding golden age of six-day cycling He had two fifth place finishes in Buffalo and Montreal but further glory was curtailed with the demands of war, and in Albert's own personal life, injuries, marriage and a new son. The world had moved on and so it seemed had Albert's cycling days.
But he was a determined man, and the post war years would bring an entire new focus to his cycling engagement. There were tracks to build, young cyclists to coach, and eventually a return to the competitive world itself.
The challenges and the triumphs of those post war days will be a future column as will an examination of why Arnold Devlin believes this man deserves recognition by his country in its premier sporting museum.TOP
Albert Schelstraete-Coulier of Tillsonburg born Nov 15, 1918 crossed his final finish line at University Hospital London on March 14, 2011. He is predeceased by wife Irene (2003), daughter Marianne (1944) and great-granddaughter Abby (2002). Survived by sons Robert (Elaine) Schelstraete and Ronald (Linda) Schelstraete, Grandchildren Karen Demaree (Brian), Lynn Cristino (Hersh), Joann Schelstraete-Colyer (Vince) and Vicki Schelstraete-DeFilippo (Julius). Also 7 great-grandchildren. Alberts life-long passion was cycling where he competed internationally as both amateur and professional. He founded the Silver Spokes Cycling Club. He spent many years designing and building cycling velodromes across North America including World Championship and Olympic tracks. His latest endeavour was co-founder of London's Forest City Velodrome.
Funeral service will take place on Thursday at 11am at Verhoeve Funeral Home, 262 Broadway St., Tillsonburg, ON. Cremation to follow at a later date. In lieu of flowers donations to charity of your choice or Forest City Velodrome youth cycling would be appreciated.
Induction into the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame 2017
The Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame is pleased to welcome Albert Schelstraete-Coulier as an inductee for 2017 in the Builder category for his lifetime of devotion to the development and promotion of cycling in Canada.
At the national level Albert served as President of the Canadian Wheelman's Association (the predecessor national governing body for cycling in Canada to the Canadian Cycling Association - now called Cycling Canada) from 1952 to 1957 then again from 1972 to 1974. At that same time he served as Canada's representative to the Pan American Cycling Federation (COPACI) and led the Canadian cycling delegation at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
He had an amateur and professional career which included being named the outstanding Canadian cyclist in 1940. His later racing days included several medal winning performances at masters racing events across North American and Europe including gold medal performances at World Masters Championships and World Seniors Games.
At the local level Albert spent a lifetime organizing and running races both on the road and on the track. He founded the Norfolk Cycling Club in 1939 and it still exists today as the Silver Spokes Cycling Club.
With all of the above accomplishments you would wonder what else he found time to be involved in and that begins another part of the story. He was the only Canadian designer, builder and race promoter of velodromes from 1948 to 1975 and was the key contributor to six-day bike racing for that period and more.
In the history of six-day bicycle racing in Canada there is one person who has transcended the decades from the Golden Era of the 1930's to the first decade of the 21st century. A person who has been a six-day racer, trainer, coach, promoter, VElodrome architect and builder, veteran racer and bicycle builder. An individual that has been the keeper of the 'six-day racing spirit' for eight decades, that person is Albert Schelstraete-Coulier.
Six-day racing was a true Depression era phenomenon as off duty hockey rinks were transformed into velodromes with the installation of board tracks. Upon this oval track, two and three man racing teams competed with one man from each team required to be on the track at all times. All times meant just that - 24 hours a day for six days ending at Saturday midnight.
in 1939 Albert assisted the completion of a portable velodrome in Delhi, a 200 meter outdoor wooden track with seating for 1000 people in the grandstands. The first race on that track attracted big city star riders but it was Albert and his partner Rene Cyr who took the honors which lead to him turning professional in 1940 and racing with legends like Hall of Famer Torchy Peden.
He went on to build numerous permanent velodromes, temporary tracks and portable tracks that were used in competitions throughout Canada and the United States. Among the velodromes built were the ones used for the Winnipeg 1967 Pan American Games, the 1974 World Championship track at the University of Montreal campus. He was also the supervisor of the track built within the velodrome for the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. Anyone who has been on the boards at the Forest City Velodrome has ridden one of his tracks.
As a race promoter he took his portable track, first used in 1948, to many cities including; Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, Quebec and Los Angeles. In many cases he was both the track provider and race event promoter.
In 1996 Albert completed construction of his Apollo Monster Bike which is a 15 person machine that he built to encourage community-based fund raising that embodies physical activity, team spirit and a great way to create public awareness and support for worthy causes. The bike has 15 high-tech bicycle frames with adjustable seats attached to a sturdy drive train that drives the heavy duty machine that has strong brakes and turn signals. Its inaugural ride was the Tillsonburg Cancer Society's Ride Against Cancer on April 28, 1996.
For these significant contributions Albert Schelstraete-Coulier is now an honoured member of the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame. Please welcome Albert's son Bob to accept the induction award.