In August 2022, a group of 30 young cyclists between the ages of 10-19 convened on Vancouver Island to take part in the inaugural Victoria Youth Cycling Experience (VYCE)—a week-long development camp put on by Cycling Canada, Cycling BC, and youth cycling clubs from the western region, to develop skills, build community, and ignite the passion for cycling at the grassroots level.
As one of Cycling Canada’s regional hubs for delivering development programs and connecting communities, Victoria served as the ideal setting for VYCE. Not only has it been touted as one of the top-ranking cities for cycling in Canada thanks to its extensive bicycle network but Victoria also boasts some distinctive cycling facilities such as the Jordie Lunn Bike Park and the Westshore Velodrome, both of which were used for VYCE. As a multi-day overnight camp, VYCE participants were provided accommodation at the majestic Richmond Road campus of St. Michael’s University School right in the heart of the city.
For seven days, kids from Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC got to learn different cycling disciplines including road, track, and mountain bike from top-level coaches, athletes, and ambassadors from the cycling community.
Using a combination of classroom education sessions, skills clinics, racing, and special guest speaker presentations, VYCE played a fundamental role in teaching youth about cycling sport and guiding them along the early stages of their pathway to becoming life-long participants in cycling.
“I loved being on my bike so many days in a row! I learned so much about commuting in traffic and mixed-use trails. I got an opportunity to ride on a velodrome which was awesome. I got to meet new friends and coaches from all over BC and beyond,” commented VYCE youth participant Eli Pechter from Campbell River. “I even learned about chamois chafe! In spite of that, I can’t wait to do it again.”
With the support of coaches, clubs, staff, parents, sponsors, community partners, venues and the young athletes that allowed this pilot project to come to life in 2022, VYCE now has a strong foundation to build on for future iterations of the event.
“We’re definitely optimistic about the possibilities for future VYCE camps,” says Andrew Avillanoza, one of Cycling Canada’s Victoria Hub Managers. “We’ll take what we’ve learned from this pilot, evolve, improve, and create the next version of VYCE to be even more tailored to the youths’ needs.”
Organisers of the camp are currently collecting feedback through surveys and interviews with event stakeholders, which will inform the planning and design of VYCE in the future.
“VYCE is a great introduction to different cycling disciplines, bringing young athletes together to learn and train in the amazing cycling playground of Victoria. If you are thinking about cycling as a focus sport, this camp is the perfect opportunity to experience road, track and mountain biking in an ideal environment with expert coaching.” – VYCE participant
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