January 23/08 11:14 am - An Interview with Jeremy Storie
Posted by Editor on 01/23/08
An Interview with Jeremy Storie
by Matt Hansen
Jeremy Storie is a well-known figure in the Canadian cycling circuit, particularly in British Columbia. Having coached athletes of all levels - from Junior to Elite - as well as putting on a plethora of races on both the track and road, Storie is a veritable asset to the sport in this country. I recently caught up with him in Vancouver to talk about track racing, development, and the future of athlete selection in Canada.
Matt Hansen: Jeremy, the Burnaby Six Day was a great success once again. How has it grown, why has it grown, and what lies in its future?
Jeremy Storie: The Burnaby Six Day was a pretty big event this year. In 2005 there was a Six Day that mostly a local affair, with a few teams from the Washington/Oregon corridor as well. The following year the Six Day was in jeopardy of not happening, as it was run by volunteers [as it still is] and so I and a few others stepped in and said we want to keep things running, and took the ball and ran with it. We only had about two months to piece something together but it turned out pretty well, as Symmetrics sent several teams and we had a ProTour rider in Tyler Farrar racing. We made some mistakes that year and, while it was a great event, we knew it could improve.
We then set out earlier in 2007 to put on a good show. An ad hoc committee was formed with myself, BVC president Andy George, BVC promotions guy Glenn Barr, and BVC board member Rob McMurtry. Each of us took a role and then doled out other responsibilities, and we also had great help in registration from Ansellmo Rossiello. This was a total team effort and all the pieces just seemed to come together. We signed a few teams on early and as the dates grew closer more and more top teams wanted in. We had our maximum number of teams for the track that we felt comfortable running with. It is not just about the Pros either - yes, they are the big show, but we were very close to looking at having [to have] qualifying heats for our B and C categories, and that speaks to the growing popularity of track cycling.
I think there are several reasons the Six Day has grown. Track is just seeing a resurgence in general, and lots of our top local pros are seeing it as a viable form of training. I have always maintained that track is one of the most important tools for developing riders and the Junior program at Burnaby. The geographical proximity and timing of the LA World Cup also makes it very enticing as a lead-up preparation event, and just the fact that the quality of the racing gets better and better each year.
This year the race took a bit of a loss. This was not unexpected, but in the end we decided to spend a little bit more money in making for a better race. Part of the issue is we are not the primary tenants of the building, so we need to staff the building over the course of the event with outside people that we have to pay. It was a holiday time during the race so wages are higher. It was also a colder year so heating was higher. There were a number of factors.
We have already started discussions for next year and the goal is to take it another step further. Anyone that was at the Six Day this year on Friday night or the final night can tell you that the building was jammed and a lot was going on. It was a really great atmosphere. Our goal is to provide that every night. We are also looking at other dates such a slightly before Christmas as a possibility.
This needs to be weighed on a number of fronts. Will this help or hurt attendance? When is LA world Cup and other World Cups, etc.? We have talked about getting a European team or two over. There was definite interest from across the pond, as we were covered on several Dutch and Belgian track sites with daily reports and photos. Bottom line is we need to secure a title sponsor or more funding, and continue to provide a high standard of entertainment as well as great racing for the riders.
MH: Talk about the dEVo program - how did that start and what do you have planned for '08?
JS: The dEVo program was something I started in about 1997. I was coaching a few junior riders at the time and I would get them to do the Escape Velocity club ride in Vancouver. I was a member of Escape Velocity and knew that if I was not around that the other riders in the club would look after any Juniors.
A club member called me up and said while I was away on holidays a young kid, who was about 14 at the time, kept coming out on the rides. He was taking the bus in from Tsawassen, near the ferries to go to Vancouver island, every weekend. He was getting dropped on the rides at first so EV members would push him back on and he got better but he would not give up. That kid was Cam Evans.
At that point I felt that we had a need that was not being met. dEVo was formed. It was ragtag for a year or so, but I kept putting more and more structures in place to get more kids into cycling. Year Two we grew to 6 or 8, year three [to] 10 or 12 riders. One of the kids said why don't we get out own jerseys instead of EV's jerseys? Next year were at 15 with our own jerseys. They were identical to EV's design but in green. dEVo had an identity.
By this time Cam had moved on, but we kept attracting other riders like Marsh and then Naomi Cooper. At this time I had also started to run a road race series in March. The kids became the volunteer labour force to help run these [races] and every last cent after expenses went back into paying for the Team's projects.
The premise was simple: work for 3-4 weekend days at the March races, and then be rewarded for the rest of the year with all your entry fees covered and trips paid for. The kids and their parents bought into it. The program has been steady for the past 3-4 years at 30 riders. Each and every year the program expands.
A few years ago we got a team trailer, last year the Team offered several levels of membership including coaching services to the riders. Sponsors have been constant with the team, and Louis Garneau and Powerbar in particular have been very supportive. At the start of this year I stepped down from the program and have passed my role onto a graduating member of the dEVo program: Austin MacDougall.
I looked at the past nine years and decided that the program was in good hands and that I had been doing the same thing for quite a while and needed a break. I will continue to mentor Austin and all other people involved with the dEvo program for a while until they are totally self-sufficient.
The program was very satisfying for me and EV supported my ambitions and ideas to have such a program. I would be remiss in not mentioning a few EV members past and present that were instrumental in allowing me the leeway to get this going. Dave Schneider, Ted Ritter, Gord Ross, and Brian Story - thank you and all of EV as well.
MH: What is your official role at Burnaby - and what is your focus?
My official role at Burnaby is BVC (Burnaby Velodrome Club) Coach and program coordinator. In this role I run several coached sessions a week for elites and general membership. I also coordinate the Learn to Ride and Learn to Race programs for our instructors. I set up the bookings and schedules for these clinics.
I am also always on the hunt for young riders to get them into trying the track and part of our junior program. Initially, a lot of the kids in our program got involved with track because of their relationship with me through dEVo. This is still the case to some degree, but we are seeing more and more kids coming out from mountain biking and from outer regions of BC, through [BC Provincial Coach] Richard Wooles' provincial programs. Richard, in fact, runs the Junior sessions at the track. I am also in charge of our Friday night race programming and running the actual races.
My focus in all of this is just to continue to grow the track, and young riders in particular. The ultimate goal would be to have Burnaby as a centre of excellence for training. Currently we have many top elite Canadian athletes training out of Burnaby, and some have relocated here solely because of the track.
We do need more financial support in order to take the track to the next step but we are very healthy right now. Membership is growing. Track usage is very high and races are selling out. I would like to see more commitment from the CCA in recognizing our venue. I speak with Rob Good from Ontario (London Velodrome) regularly and he has the same wishes from the CCA. Last year at the Junior Track Championship BC won the Team Pursuit, 1-2 in Individual Pursuit, 1st in Points Tace [all riders train at BVC] and Ontario was first in Keirin and second in Sprints [riders out of the London track]. The two tracks must be doing something correct.
MH: What are some lessons to other tracks in Canada - present or future - so they can get the kind of attention and riders Burnaby does? What's the secret?
JS: There are two secrets. One just costs money, and that is having an indoor facility. Canada, with its climate, needs to have indoor tracks in order to make track boom. The second secret is the one that not everyone is willing to put on the line. That is just plain hard work. Burnaby saw some very dark days where track was on the brink of destruction, but through the dedicated efforts of a few people (again thanks to Gord Ross, Ted Ritter, and Dave Schneider among others) the track is alive and very well at this point. If you build it they will come only holds true to the extent that you have to have programs for them to participate in. London is doing it as well.
Other tracks like Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Bromont, and Dieppe are also doing it to some degree, but their track season is so much shorter than those with an indoor facility. I hear rumours and see stories about indoor tracks in Victoria and Edmonton and Toronto area. That would be great and I would be out to each of these places to ride their tracks, but for now it is just London and Burnaby
MH. Lately, you've been pretty outspoken about Svein Tuft and his riding track, on the Canadian Cyclist Forums. Can you elaborate?
JS: I somehow knew this would come up! Svein is a friend of mine and I directed him on Symmetrics for several years, and got him interested in track a few years back as well. My issue was not with Svein not riding the track for Canada or taking Ryan's place. I have stated many times all these guys are [all] very good riders.
One of my issues was the questioning of Svein's dedication to the track program. The main issue is the lack of a vision for the future. There really is no track program other than thrown together projects and training camps and selection trials. These are all done at last minute, and so I would question the CCA's lack of dedication to cycling.
We have an organization in place (the CCA) that are supposed to be setting long term goals and have a plan in place for extended periods of time, but this does not appear to be happening. I would never lay claim to being a great bike racer, and have made many mistakes as a coach over the years, but I have learned a great deal.
We have two coaches in Canada now on the National scene and the High Performance Committee and HP Coordinator. Someone is not doing their job. I have had conversations with people at the CCA about this and asked about the Olympic plan. The response was that the plan has not been decided upon. This was in the past 5 months. Common sense would dictate that when you look at Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, or any other powerhouse cycling nation, that their Olympic plans are already laid out for 2012 and 2016. I am willing to bet that Hockey Canada and Alpine Ski Canada are in year two of four for their 2010 plan.
MH: So what does that mean for cycling in Canada, potentially?
JS: Well, this also takes our 2006-2008 Junior talent out of the equation. Where do they have to go? What is the plan for them? Where is the passion to get this going ?
Having a plan with long term vision on place has two major benefits. You greatly increase your chance of success with the athletes that that are part of the plan and you can potentially increase the number of athletes you can retain and recruit due to the substance and vision of the plan.
Getting back to Svein and this topic of long term planning. The whole system needs to be revamped from selection process to HP Committee to carding criteria. Svein told me some time ago that he finally got carded when he was in his second year with Prime Alliance, but [he] really wondered where that money was a few years earlier when he was not making a salary, when he really could have used it. More recently, Svein commented that he really hopes these selection issues and lack of vision get sorted so our future athletes do not get messed up as well.