Josie Spence’s main sport is speedskating, but that didn’t stop the Kamloops resident from signing up for the Future Champions cycling camp.
Spence is a developing rider taking advantage of the camp and the sport to help her train for speedskating.
“I started more recreational but it’s turned out really well and I really love it and the people here are great,” said Spence, shortly before she and a group of 34 headed out for a 2.5 hour bike journey. “I’m looking forward to some hard rides and getting more of a taste of cycling because I haven’t really gotten that much experience with it.”
Spence said she wants to learn how to ride in a pack.
“I need to feel what it’s like to be close to other people and just the helpful hints about the things I never knew before about cycling,” she said.
Prior to leaving the Bowmont Motel where the riders are staying and taking to the road, coach Richard Wooles explained to the riders how things would go. Joining them was professional cyclist Rob Britton, who rides for the Bissel cycling team and the Canadian national team. During the ride, each cyclist could ride alongside Britton and pick his brain for three minutes.
Britton, who has worked with Wooles before, said he never had the opportunity that these riders are getting.
“Now I’m kind of in a position where I can be a bit of a role model,” said the Victoria native. “If I can help them maybe grow and go on to the next level, then that would be pretty awesome.”
Wooles, who has been to three Olympics with Canada and Great Britain as coach, said their goal is to teach the riders the basics, give them an understanding of how to race and avoid some mistakes.
“We are trying to pass on that information from a beginner all the way to the professional and hopefully future Olympians,” said Wooles.
Assisting Wooles during the camp are Ron Hayman, a retired pro rider and Jeremy Storie, who has coached athletes at many levels and other professionals in the sport. Upon completion of the camp, most of the riders will participate in the first Penticton Western News Wine Country Criterium on Aug. 19.
The one-kilometre course takes riders along Okanagan Lake through downtown Penticton starting and finishing on Main Street. Category B racers begin at 6 p.m. riding for 30 minutes plus two laps, while Category A racers will ride for 45 minutes and two laps. Prize money is given to the top three in each category, plus primes and draw prizes.
Hayman, founder of the PWN Wine Country Criterium and facilitator, said he believes the criterium can be successful.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support from the Downtown Penticton Business Association,” he said. “When we first approached them through Jeff Plant, it was, we have to make this happen. How can they set it up? It’s been just great.”
Registration is at Gyro Park after 4:30 p.m. and online at www.rideokanagan.com then clicking on the events tab, which shows