There will be mud.
That’s Chris Eastman’s guarantee for a cyclocross camp in Port Coquitlam he’s organizing for young people aged 10-13 in August. Cyclocross is a hybrid of road riding and mountain biking that evolved as a way for competitive cyclists to stay in shape over the winter months. To get to the next warm café stop as quickly as possible they often veered off paved roads to cut across frozen farmer’s fields, hop fences and traverse forests.
While mid-August is usually warm and dry, Eastman, the recreation co-ordinator for youth services in Port Coquitlam, says he’s making arrangements for a City water truck to drop by and turn a section of the Shaughnessy Bike Track into a muddy bog to give participants a taste of true cyclocross conditions.
The sport is especially popular in northern Europe where tens of thousands of spectators will turn out to cheer racers pedalling through muck and sometimes snow, portage their bikes over barriers, climb stairs and descend perilous ramps. But it’s becoming more widely known in North America. The Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition runs a series of eight races, including beginner and kids’ events, across Metro Vancouver from August to December.
Eastman says the sport is a perfect fit for his mandate to find new recreational opportunities for youth in Port Coquitlam.
“It’s such a dynamic sport,” says Eastman. “Anyone can do it and it’s accessible. This has potential.”
Bikes and expert coaching are provided by Cycling BC, as part of their iRide program, and the camp will include a visit to the Burnaby Velodrome for a chance to ride a track bike on the high-banked wooden oval.
“Kids see a lot of screen time these days,” says Eastman. “We’re looking at this as a way to get kids active again.”
And perhaps learn a few life lessons along the way.
“Getting over obstacles on the cyclocross track is a little like overcoming obstacles in life,” says Eastman. “They’ve got permission to get dirty.”
• The iRide Cyclocross summer camp runs Aug. 14-18, 8:30-4 p.m. Cost is $300 and the camp has a capacity for 14 riders. For more information and to register, go to http://bit.ly/iRideCyclocross