It’s near freezing outside and four teenaged track cyclists dressed in riding spandex are doing their best to keep warm inside a heated training tent.
The group, including 15-year-old Saanich residents Erik Diertens and Erin Attwell, who compete this weekend at the 2014 Junior National Track Cycling Championships in Burnaby, are on bikes attached to wind trainers that allow them to ride in place.
At one point, the frigid wind gusting outside threatens to carry the tents away, leaving Diertens and fellow junior rider Riley Pickrell, 13, to reach up and hang on while continuing to ride.
Ah, the joys of winter training in Victoria.
While only the most hardy are here on this day, Triple Shot Racing club coach Lister Farrar says the Victoria Velodrome Association’s member clubs have upwards of 60 young riders in various stages of development.
“The next stage for us is to get local competition for them,” he says.
Farrar, who was named Cycling B.C.’s Youth Coach of the Year this summer for his work promoting the sport and helping train area youth, says some riders make their way up the competitive ladder rather quickly, while others are content to ride for exercise and the social aspects of club riding.
Diertens, a member of the ProCity Racing club, and Attwell, who rides for Tripleshot, are among 11 riders from Vancouver Island who are part of Team B.C. competing in Burnaby. Illustrating the youth movement in Greater Victoria, the pair will be among the youngest riders in the under-17 categories.
Other riders from Capital Region clubs who will be competing this weekend (with club listed) include Saanich residents Clara Mackenzie (Local Ride) and Eloi Battista (Pacific Cycling Centre), Victoria’s Trevor Stothart (Red Truck), Esquimalt’s John Wilcox (ProCity) and Oak Bay’s Rachel Carey (Vancouver Island Youth Performance Racing Squad).
Former University of Victoria student-athlete Laura Brown, who won a silver medal in the team pursuit event at the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Colombia earlier this year, was on hand last weekend to speak at the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association’s annual general meeting with fellow national teamer Gillian Carleton.
She also led a spin class for junior riders and was at the velodrome Saturday morning to offer her guidance to the young riders. The native of Calgary is impressed with the number of teens taking up track riding and other disciplines.
“The more kids on bikes, the better,” she says. “It creates a fun training atmosphere.”
The weekend competition, held on the steeply banked track at the Burnaby Velodrome, will include an omnium. Track cycling’s version of the heptathlon, the omnium is designed to create generalists among developing racers, Farrar says. The weekend also includes events for match sprints, Keirin sprint, team sprints and team pursuit.