Some of the best young riders in the province invaded Squamish’s trails on the weekend at the first Cycling B.C. Endurance Camp of the season.
Cycling B.C. and Team Squamish head coach Mike Charuk led a group of 16 cross-country and downhill riders from Friday to Sunday (Jan. 24 to 26) and he said it was a good way to kick off the 2014 season.
“We’ve really thrown everything at them,” he said. “The first thing we did was ride to the top of Nine Mile Hill and down Ring Creek. The conditions have been excellent and using Brennan Park as a base has been really good.”
Charuk explained that an endurance camp early in the season makes sense because all riders need to build their stamina early on. He noted that camps in the coming months will focus on set pieces and tempo and then move on to race skills and tactics.
He said it’s looking to be a good year for local riders, with Quinn Moberg expected to be a contender in the U23 division and emerging riders like Rhys Verner, Luke Di Marzo, Sean Fincham and Ethan Toom.
“We really wanted to set the tempo high this year,” he said. “I think there’s four to five guys from Whistler and Squamish that could be on the podium regularly and there’s a lot of talent in U17.”
One of those hopefuls is Verner, who had strong showings at the Canada Summer Games and the Test of Metal, among other events, last year.
“A camp like this brings everyone from Team B.C. together,” Verner said. “It’s good to practice some skills and see where everyone is at. An endurance camp now is perfect because we need to get the miles in and these really help with the development of riders. Young guys can learn from older guys and it’s just been awesome.”
Whistler cross-country rider Austin Reith agreed with Verner and said these types of camps help all riders.
“I think it’s great they’re doing these,” Reith said. “Cycling B.C. needed this and it’s a great thing to have.”
Charuk said he’s had guest coaches like Ricky Federau, Tony Routley and Cory Leclerc help out and that Squamish is the perfect spot for these types of camps.
“We need to move it around the province a bit, but so many of our riders are from Squamish and Whistler,” he said. “We have the weather and the trails here and Squamish is really an excellent training spot.”
One recent addition to Squamish’s biking infrastructure is the mountain bike skills park at Brennan Park. Charuk and his camp attendees used the park to warm up and he said it’s been a great addition to the local biking scene.
“If you build it, they will come,” he joked. “Some of these young kids on run-bikes might be on Team Squamish in 10 years. These kids will have 10 years experience thanks to this park. It’s also an excellent meeting spot and you can really improve rhythm, flow and balance. I’m looking forward to any improvements on it — if they added a singletrack all the way around the park, that would be awesome.”
Downhill rider Magnus Manson from the Sunshine Coast said the park is a good thing for Squamish and wished there was something similar in his hometown.
“It’s really fun,” he said. “It’s really something you can just mess around on and have fun with.”
Reith said it’s an idea that Whistler could use and noted that it’s the perfect way to get young kids on bikes. Verner said it’s a great thing for his hometown.
“Every time I’ve been there, I’ve seen dozens of little kids,” he said. “Everyone is loving it and it’s an awesome way to develop kids. It was a good call to let it get built. You can really work on specific skills there and it’s fun for everyone.”
Charuk said details for the next camp will be released in the coming weeks but a camp is expected to occur in February and one more in the spring before racing season gets fully underway.
For more information on the camps and cycling in B.C., visit www.cyclingbc.net.