January 26, 2006 -The scene in the PacificSport parking lot at 10 o’clock on morning of January 25 spoke loudly to one of Canada’s cycling truths – Victoria is the place to be for cycling in Canada. Over 20 high caliber athletes from the PacificSport National Cycling Centre (NCC) and other parts of Canada gathered outside the PacificSport offices located below the Commonwealth Centre eager to hit the road.
“No other place in Canada offers such optimal conditions for cyclists. The forecast of seven to 10 degrees Celcius this week with some periods of showers is good. There is definitely no snow here,” grinned NCC assistant coach Rick Thiessen. “It’s cycling weather here, as opposed to skiing or skating weather elsewhere in Canada.”
Erinne Willock, who was recently named to the 2006 Commonwealth Games team, is using the camp for her final preparations under the guidance of NCC head coach Houshang Amiri before going to Australia. Willock, a 24-year-old Victoria native, who broke through last year at World Cup racing, has the company at the camp of some other world-class athletes like Commonwealth Games alternate Trish Sinclair and two-time Xterra World Champion Melanie McQuaid.
Cyclists will ride over 750 kilometers incorporating a good deal of climbing during the six day camp, and will put themselves to the test with two time trials, and add on additional gym and yoga sessions to their rigorous schedule.
Other developing athletes or mountain bikers like former World Mountain Bike Team Relay Champion Max Plaxton will use the camp to build their base for the 2006 season, hone their climbing skills, get expert coaching, and have critical testing done.
“Athletes come here to Victoria to use the expert coaching with Houshang and the facilities,” Thiessen said. “In the last six months we developed a partnership with the PacificSport and the PacificSport Performance Lab (Victoria) located at the University of Victoria, so we have the best testing equipment available to measure cycling power, as well as the use of physiologists. We have a good team of sport science support for the athletes.”
The athletes will get the chance to be tested on the best equipment available to the world, namely the SRM ergometre test bike worth approximately $30,000 that is used by all the top cycling countries in the world.
“We can give the best to the athletes here in Victoria with the optimal weather and a supportive training and testing environment. Victoria is the only place in Canada with this testing equipment and level of support,” said Amiri.
Two more camps are planned for Feb 23-27 and March 22-26, as well as a junior camp March 13-17. The PacificSport NCC camps are open to other Canadian cyclists with approval of the head coach.
For more information on the current camp schedule or upcoming camps at the Centre, keep watch at www.pacificsportcycling.ca. A report from the Winter December camp can be found on the website along with a gallery of camp and testing photos.