October 17, 2012 (Vancouver, BC) – Things are heating up out west as the postponement of the Cycling BC AGM has sparked more outcry. We also received the following Open Letter from Barry Lyster, the owner of Local Ride Bike Shop in Maple Ridge, BC. Lyster puts on several popular races as well including Barry’s Roubaix, Race The Ridge, and Pumpkin Cross and also manages and sponsors Local Ride / Dr. Vie Superfoods+ elite women’s road cycling team – more on the AGM postponement here.
In light of the latest move by Cycling BC to postpone this weekend’s AGM, I am left with no other option but to call for Executive Director, Keith Ryan’s resignation and for President Wayne Pomario to step down as President of the Board.
The postponement is clearly a stall tactic on their part to build up a defense plan and to allow membership interest in attending the AGM to die down. I am sure they could have found an appropriate venue to host 250 attendees by this Saturday. In fact we have learned that the new venue booked by Cycling BC for the rescheduled AGM on Sunday, December 2, is in fact available on Saturday, Oct. 20 – the original AGM date.
On the bright side, it is extremely positive that the membership have issued such an enthusiastic desire to attend the AGM and to make their voices heard. It is also a clear indication that the feeling of frustration and desire for change is widespread.
Since this regime took control, Cycling BC has been on a downward slide, which has now hit rock bottom. While recreational cycling in B.C. is on an incredible upswing, racing in our province has witnessed a drastic decline in events and rider numbers, with our once prestigious BC Cup Series now no longer in existence on the road, and all but dead in cyclo-cross and cross-country mountain biking. Instead of being opportunities to celebrate cycling, races have become venues for members to vent their anger and frustration about Cycling BC.
Good people have either lost their jobs or been forced out of the industry due to the authoritarian, old-school mentality that rules cycling in B.C. The people who have been bullied out include former Cycling BC staff, coaches, race organizers, sponsors, volunteers, etc. Provincial Coach, Richard Wooles’ current status with Cycling BC is now unclear, yet his hiring was one of the few positive moves made by the current administration. But now it appears he may be out as well.
Cycling BC has not responded to members’ calls for gender equity and opportunities for youth racing – two areas that are vital in our collective goal to grow the sport. A clear example of the ongoing oversight of women and developing young riders is at the upcoming Canadian National Cyclo-cross Championships, to be held here in Surrey, B.C., on November 17.
The Canadian Championships should be a showcase of the amazing cycling opportunities B.C. has to offer, yet the message our sport governing body is sending to the rest of the country is that, yes there are many opportunities, as long as you are a man. Only two of the eight categories offered at the Championships are for women, and the cash purse is heavily weighted in favor of the Elite men over the Elite Women.There is no category for Junior Women, and any youth under 15 years old, no matter how talented he or she is, is resigned to cheer on his or her fellow Canadians and dream of one day racing for a Maple Leaf jersey – that is if he or she continues to stay in the sport.
Cycling BC has also ignored recommendations from Provincial Coaches to allow age category upgrades for talented young riders who are finding little competition in their current categories. Mr. Ryan is now making the final call on the future of these riders. I doubt very much he has ever met these talented athletes, let alone seen them race.
My e-mails to President Wayne Pomario are being bounced back from both addresses I have for him, which I suspect is not a coincidence. This behavior and blatant attempt by the Cycling BC leadership to ignore membership concerns leaves little doubt in my mind that they do not support the membership’s call for change.
If significant change does not happen, I will no longer organize my races or continue to manage my elite race team.
There is much more to this story and I encourage the membership to make their voices heard.
Barry Lyster has been involved professionally in cycling for over 20 years in various capacities. His roles have included: cycling tour guide, coach, event organizer, race director, bike shop owner, elite road team owner and manager. He currently owns and manages Local Ride Bike Shop in Maple Ridge, manages and sponsors Local Ride / Dr. Vie Superfoods+ elite women’s road cycling team, and organizes Barry’s Roubaix, Race The Ridge, and Pumpkin Cross. Lyster also supports and coaches his 13-year-old daughter, Maggie Coles-Lyster, who is a talented cyclist with aspirations of one day representing Canada at the Olympics. His wife, Nona, and two youngest daughters, are also avid cyclists.