Brayden Friesen heads into a hill during a race at the Juan de Fuca BMX Track in Colwood.

National-level BMX riders in Colwood for long weekend

Westshore riders will be looking to make their mark on home turf this weekend at the Juan de Fuca BMX track.

The hope is that one day Olympians will be born.

The Juan de Fuca BMX track plays host to its biggest event, the BMX Canada Vancouver Island Nationals, which takes over the dirt track behind The Q Centre in Colwood from July 29 to 31. It’ll see Greater Victoria’s best and brightest BMX cyclists competing, including some who may be future Olympians.

“We expect 600 people from Western Canada and the U.S., with families coming from as far as California,” said association committee member Joanne Parkinson. “It’s free to watch and we have professional riders (up to) age 60. The whole BMX club is pumped to have it.”

After its first Olympic entry at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the sport’s popularity has grown, in part because of its affordability, pushing boundaries across the globe, including the West Shore.

“My son, Gavin, is an eight-year-old intermediate and my husband is a 36 to 40 (division) novice,” Parkinson said, laughing. “My youngest, my three year old, finally got on the track yesterday and we are pretty excited about that.”

Sooke resident Brayden Friesen, 15, has been riding competitively for some time now and spends his time at the track every chance he gets, pedalling under the tutelage of coaches Cid Martinez and John Makson. Currently ranked number one in the district, Friesen said his passion was born through an off-the-cuff comment that eventually shaped who he has become.

“Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been riding bikes, trying to find jumps to go off of, and one day my grandma said I should ‘go on the track’ and one day I did,” he said. “I fell in love with it and I’m still doing it and going hard.”

Coaches give him a weekly regimen of workouts, pushing him to train and ride approximately 15 hours a week in hopes he might improve on his second-place provincial ranking and fifth-place national ranking from 2015. Training includes dead lifts, curls, on-bike sprints and stationary bike sprints to get his legs up to speed. On weekends, he races.

“I try to push myself pretty hard with it,” he said. “The best part is being on the track on my bike. Everything is a competition, because I’m really competitive doing what I love. I’ve got a lot of friends there, so riding with them is always a good time.”

His competitive nature has even driven him to ride his bike with a cast, after he broke his wrist in a bike crash. That dedication will be on display this weekend, as he faces a deep field at the upcoming nationals and beyond.

“My short-term goal is to go to Worlds this year in Rock Hill, South Carolina and my long-term goal is to represent Canada at the Olympics,” Friesen said. “It would mean the world to me (to represent my country). I’d love it, I wouldn’t be able to put it into words.”

For more information, find a poster online at bit.ly/29Z7rAp.

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