June 11, 2013 (Comox Valley , BC) – Youth road cycling in British Columbia took a giant step forward this past weekend (June 8-9th) 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, which was organized by the VIPYRS (Vancouver Island Performance Youth Racing Squad) and sanctioned by Cycling BC, attracted 65 registrants from across BC 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 of the Comox Valley. Following the road race, athletes had a few hours to prepare themselves for the grueling Hill Climb Race – really a misnomer as it took place on the Mt. Washington Parkway – truly a mountain climb with an elevation change of 600 meters over the 10-km course, with grades reaching 14%.
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 Race more than 100 athletes and families alike were treated to a delicious lasagne dinner at the newly constructed Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Centre located in the Nordic ski portion of the Mt Washington recreation area adjacent to Strathcona Provincial Park. It provided a welcome opportunity to escape the cloud and relive the day chatting with friends both old and new.
The following morning BC’s best young riders were at it again – this time taking on the challenging Criterium course located in the heart of downtown Courtenay. The closed course featured multiple right and left turns of varying types and a challenging hill section in which the start and finish was located.
Following the Criterium everyone made their way to the Centennial Pavilion at Simms Park in Courtenay – an award winning open air timber structure of unique design. There the Provincial Championship medals were awarded, followed by an omnium-style prize podium for the top finishers of the weekend in each classification, complete with champag … er … fizzy sparking 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 Jess Reynolds (U15 Girls) riding for the host VIPYRS, both of whom swept their divisions, laying claim to a very special trifecta – the BC Provincial Road Race, Hill Climb and Criterium Championships in the same year.
Also turning in top performances were Mark Grant (U15 Boys) VIPYRS who won the Criterium championship while sharing the Road Race Championship in a dead heat with teammate Josiah Ney as well as claiming a bronze in the Hill Climb. Josiah Ney also went on to lay claim to the Provincial Hill Climb Championship, before leaving for Victoria to win his division in the Victoria Youth Triathlon the next day.
Another strong performance was turned in by U19 rider Jordan Duncan (Russ Hay’s), who won the Criterium Championship as well as taking bronze in the Road Race. Other Provincial Road Race Champions crowned on the day included Keifer Livingstone (dEVo) (U19 Boys), Rachel Carey (Russ Hay’s) (U17 Girls), Conor Martin (U13 Boys) and Sarah Van Dam (Tripleshot) (U13 Girls).
Full race results are available online here.
The significance of the weekend for the future of road cycling in BC 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 BC riders of all ages from across the province, 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,” concluded Reynolds.