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Cycling popularity grows in Ontario

The Ontario Cycling Association reported record membership numbers for 2006 and growth for the sixth consecutive season. This year, total members numbered 9,777, an increase of nearly 10% from 8,898 members in 2005. The OCA sanctioned nearly 300 road, mountain, track, cross, and BMX events this year.

Furthermore, more racers are participating in clubs. In 2003, OCA licensed 92 clubs. In 2006, there were 143 clubs, to which 5,947 racers belonged.

OCA attributes the growth to a new online membership registration system and to the Forest City Velodrome, which has been operating for a little more than a year. The Velodrome, one of only three indoor tracks in North America, is an ideal place for cyclists to train year-round.

But mountain bike racing remains popular, too, and growing among some sectors. Female participation in mountain bike events rose to 19% (from a low of 10.5% in 1998).

On the road side, 43 of OCA's athletes finished in the top 10 at the Canadian National Road championships, and looking ahead, interest in road cycling will like rise as plans are in the works for an international UCI Road event in the Ottawa area in 2007.

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