This cycling event isn’t fast and dangerous, it is fast and fun.
The Greater Victoria School Bike League’s fourth annual BikeJam, spread out over the hills behind the lower fields at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, from the BMX track to the Velodrome, to a converted parking lot with a ramp and a big air bag, kicked of the season on April 8.
“When I started, there weren’t very many kids so I had to join adult sports,” said event organizer and cycling coach Lister Farrar. “Our goal is to let them taste the variety that is in the league and more importantly, meet the other kids. I really enjoyed biking as a kid and I wanted to see easier opportunities for students.”
The Bike League, supported by 20 schools including Spencer and Dunsmuir, is an official school sport much like soccer, rugby and basketball. Farrar said it has been a positive outlet for many students, offering youth a fun outdoor activity, good exercise and reminding them cycling is a convenient mode of transportation.
“Kids should be captured by their imagination about exploring on bikes and there is lots and lots of trails and bike lanes and bike paths that we can enjoy (here),” he said. “We can help get them started … The bicycle is your very first opportunity to explore and be free as a kid so it is particularly good one.”
Event volunteer Mark Matthews explored cycling at 14. Now a professional riding full time, he found himself parked near the air bag showing off some of his tricks off the ramp and volunteering – giving back to the sport that has given him so much.
“It is really cool because it is a whole group of schools and you get tons of different kids that get to ride at different levels and even if you are not an advanced rider, you get to see … all different levels of the sport and different styles,” he said. “It is kind of cool to expose people to that.”
Matthews said the passion for cycling is something he hopes to pass on.
“We never had these when I was 14, this didn’t exist so it is really cool now that this is here, (growing) and becoming really important to lots of people in town.”
Tori Kalynak, 12, is one that has benefitted from BikeJam, attending the event on a whim last year after seeing her brother compete in the event. Cycling is now a huge part of her life, even taking her to Winnipeg as a competitor, a race she won to secure a national victory after less than a year on the bike.
“I didn’t really have any biking experience, but everyone (at BikeJam) was so supportive and helped me get on the bike. It was really great,” The North Saanich middle school student said. “Everyone who also does it we have really great times and you get to go fast.”