Roland Rabien

Roland Rabien

Cyclist a cog in Island’s race scene

Island cycling's race season starts Sunday with two mountain, cross country races

Name a bike race on the Island this year and Saanich’s Roland Rabien will probably be in it.

The 34-year-old amateur cyclist plans to enter 40 to 50 events in the upcoming race season, mostly on the Island but also on the mainland and in Washington.

The Victoria Cycling League season kicks off on Sunday (March 11) with the Caleb Pike Road race. Coincidentally, mountain biking’s Island Cup Series also kicks off on Sunday, with the Pro City Racing cross-country race at Hartland Park.

Rabien will race the latter, though the majority of his season will be in the Victoria Cycling League.

It’s not uncommon for cyclists such as Rabien, who started with mountain biking, to compete in a variety of disciplines: road, cyclo cross, cross-country mountain biking, time trial and track (velodrome).

There are few, however, who are as heavily involved with organizing the Island’s race scene.

“I started lending a hand where I could and it slowly grew to the state it’s at now,” Rabien said.

A computer programmer by day, Rabien is lending his time to nearly a dozen races in 2012.

His work ranges from director of the Pro City Racing Cyclocross Race at Western Speedway (part of the Cross on the Rock series) on Nov. 20, to helping out with four Pro City-held races in the Victoria Cycling League’s 2012 race schedule (the Observatory Hill Climb, as well as three in Metchosin). Add Jumpship, the Tour de Victoria, the Sidney Time Trials and ongoing support for local cycling websites to the list of things that keep Rabien spinning.

“Honestly, there was no conscious decision to start volunteering. I just couldn’t say no.”

He’s the same way with his training regimen. Rabien throws himself into as many local races as possible, which meant 50 in total last year.

“The plan was to race myself fit. It worked, so I’ll do it again.”

A lot of cyclists who race alongside Rabien might not notice a significant, but subtle variation to his bike. There’s no left brake lever. Instead, both the front and back brakes run through the right lever. Likewise, both gear levers are rigged on the right side of his handlebars.

Rabien first took up mountain biking at UVic as a 19-year-old. It was his first serious foray into sports since he was 14, when a roofing accident nearly took his left arm.

He can close his left fist, but that’s about it.

“I have limited functional grip. I can’t put too much weight on it, but it’s not that big a deal for road racing,” Rabien said.

Clearly it’s not.

In 2010 Rabien rode to silver at the para-cycling nationals in Quebec. And in 2011 he was first in the Bastion Square Grand Prix’s Category 4.

Where he does have to compensate “a little more” is the ups and downs of cross country and the constant dismounts of cyclo-cross – though he races in the expert class of the Island mountain biking series and almost has enough points to move up to for Cat. 3 road racing.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read