A number of junior cyclists from the Comox Valley had a very rewarding weekend at the BC Provincial Track Cycling Championships, held Aug. 24-26 in Victoria.
The Victoria Velodrome is a 333-1/3 metre outdoor track created for the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games. Left as a legacy to the B.C. cycling community following the Games, political disputes within the greater Victoria metropolitan area resulted in the track being closed for a number of years, and there was considerable fear that the entire cycling community would lose an important legacy. As a result of a great deal of hard work by the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association as well as individual members of the Vancouver Island cycling community, the track was officially re-opened last year.
The velodrome is truly a regional training facility, with junior riders from the Comox Valley regularly making the trek south to train throughout the spring and summer months. The training paid off with local riders winning a total of 11 medals over the weekend against the top competition in the province.
The most prestigious race of the provincial championships is the Omnium, a series of races which test a rider’s speed, endurance, and pack-racing skills. James Grant won the gold medal in U15 Men, while his brother Mark Grant came away with the bronze. Jess Reynolds took the silver in the U15 Women’s Omnium.
Andrew Grant was crowned U19 Men’s provincial Sprint champion. However, he won’t have much time to savour his victory as he is off to represent B.C. at the Canadian Track Cycling Championships, Sept. 12-18 in Dieppe, N.B.
James Grant also won the gold in the U15 Men’s Matched Sprint, followed closely by his brother Mark with silver. Kia van der Vliet received the bronze medal in the U17 Women’s Matched Sprint. In the Individual Pursuit category, James Grant took the silver (U15 Men) and Jess Reynolds the bronze (U15 Women).
James Grant took silver and Mark Grant bronze in the Keirin, a unique race popular in Japan in which the riders follow a motorcycle at increasingly higher speeds for the first few laps of the race, and then continue on to challenge each other for the win once the motorcycle pulls off the track.
The weekend was capped off in style when the Comox Valley juniors received their medals on the podium from London Olympic medallist (Women’s Team Pursuit) Gillian Carleton, herself a local track racer from Victoria.