Track cyclists from across B.C. will descend upon the velodrome at the JdF Recreation Centre later this month for the provincial track championships. (Don Descoteau/Black Press)

Track cyclists from across B.C. will descend upon the velodrome at the JdF Recreation Centre later this month for the provincial track championships. (Don Descoteau/Black Press)

B.C. track cycling championships come to Colwood

Many of B.C.’s best set to compete at West Shore velodrome

The Colwood Crawl will have a whole new meaning when the Provincial Track Championships hit the velodrome at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre later this month.

The Aug. 18 to 20 championships will feature team sprints, team pursuits, individual sprint tournaments and points races, but one of the fan favourites is likely to be the aptly named Colwood Crawl.

Participants will be tasked with cycling as slow as possible over an undetermined amount of time. Touching the ground or the railing is cause for disqualification, as is crossing the start line. But once the time elapses, it’s a free-for-all sprint around the track.

“It’s fun for the spectators and the riders,” said Tony Winter, Greater Victoria Velodrome Association president.

Other races will take place at considerably higher speeds – up to 70 km/h for some of the top sprinters – and will feature some of the best track cycling talent in B.C. across a wide swath of age groups. Events begin on Aug. 18 at 5:30 p.m. and continue throughout the day on Aug. 19 and 20.

While most athletes come from the Island or the Lower Mainland, with Colwood and Burnaby having the only two velodromes in the province, Winter notes that there is usually a strong number of riders from the Okanagan as well.

While he says growth in the sport has stagnated somewhat over the past few years, Winter hopes that the opportunity to check out the provincial championships will lead to more local interest in a sport that enjoys a considerable following in his native Australia.

Track cycling is safe and offers unique challenges compared to other sports on two wheels, Winter explained.

“We ride fixed-wheeled bikes,” he said. “If you pedal forward, then the back wheel turns forward, and if you pedal backwards, the rear wheel turns backwards. So there’s no coasting.

“What that does is it really improves your pedalling technique.”

Track bikes don’t have any brakes, and the nature of the sport helps participants get comfortable riding in tight groups at high speeds, he added.

Those interested in giving track cycling a try are encouraged to participate in regular “Learn to Ride” sessions on Sundays throughout the month, with Aug. 20 being an exception. Bike rentals are included in the $50 fee and no previous experience is necessary.

For more information on the velodrome association and the provincial track championships, visit gvva.bc.ca.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

Twitter: @joelgazette