Youth road cycling in British Columbia took a giant step forward this past weekend (June 8-9) in the Comox Valley, where the first-ever BC Provincial Youth Road Cycling Championships with full U19/U17/U15/U13 male and female categories were held.
The race, organized by the VIPYRS (Vancouver Island Performance Youth Racing Squad) and sanctioned by Cycling BC, attracted 65 registrants from across B.C. as well as riders from U Kon Echelon, a youth club from Whitehorse, Yukon.
The weekend started Saturday morning with the Road Race on a 16.6 km. course along meandering country roads in the pastoral Dove Creek area. Following the Road Race, athletes had a few hours to prepare for the gruelling Hill Climb – really a misnomer as it took place on the Mt. Washington Parkway – truly a mountain climb with an elevation change of 600 metres over the 10km course, with grades reaching 14 per cent.
To make the challenge even more difficult, Mother Nature enveloped the upper portion of the course in thick cloud, which gave the race a surreal feeling as shadowy riders could be glimpsed climbing through the mist. Immediately following the Hill Climb, more than 100 athletes and families alike were treated to a delicious lasagne dinner at the Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Centre.
The following morning B.C.’s best young riders were at it again – this time taking on the challenging Criterium course in the heart of downtown Courtenay. The closed course featured multiple right and left turns of varying types and a challenging hill section where the start and finish was located.
Following the Criterium everyone made their way to the Centennial Pavilion at Simms Park where the provincial championship medals were awarded, followed by an omnium-style prize podium for the top finishers in each classification, complete with champag … er … fizzy sparkling apple juice for a rather wet but fun conclusion to the event!
Two of the obvious standout performances of the weekend were turned in by dEVo Tessa Pinckston (U19 Girls) and VIPYRS Jess Reynolds (U15 Girls) who swept their divisions to lay claim to a special trifecta – the BC Provincial Road Race, Hill Climb and Criterium championships in the same year.
Also turning in top performances were VIPYRS Mark Grant (U15 Boys) who won the Criterium championship and shared the Road Race championship in a dead heat with teammate Josiah Ney as well as claiming a bronze in the Hill Climb. Ney won the Hill Climb championship before leaving for Victoria to win his division in the Victoria Youth Triathlon the next day.
Full race results are available online at www.vipyrsracing.com.
The significance of the weekend for the future of road cycling in B.C. is found in the purpose of the race weekend. In his opening remarks at the podium ceremony, VIPYRS co-founder Larry Reynolds stated, “The purpose of this first-ever youth all-category road championship is two-fold. First, it is intended to provide young B.C. riders of all ages, who are the future of the sport, the opportunity to race against each other and to get to know each other. Second, and of equal importance – it provides the province’s young road riders with their own championship – a tangible goal to work hard and ride hard for. They deserve it.”
While this race was made possible through the vision and hard work of the host VIPYRS team who organized the event, it also required the dedication of many volunteers who worked tirelessly through the weekend from a variety of cycling clubs and organizations from across the Comox Valley and Vancouver Island.
Finally, it was also made possible by the generous contributions of many sponsors, by the Comox Valley business community who came together in many ways to support the event, and the support of Hosting BC, the Province of BC and viaSport.
– Vancouver Island Performance Youth Racing Squad