Canadian Cyclist


March 7/08 8:27 am - Cycling BC Youth Team at Davis Bay Elementary

Posted by Editoress on 03/7/08

Cycling BC Youth Team Gains Momentum On The Sunshine Coast

“I would like to thank you again for putting on such a great day of biking activities at Davis Bay Elementary. The kids and teachers loved it! We couldn't have asked for a better day, lots of fun for everyone. More than 60 kids aged 10-13 participated.”
- Dave Marquis, Parent and Organizer


The Cycling BC Youth Team was on the road again Wednesday, hosting a youth racing clinic on the Sunshine Coast. A beautiful sunny day greeted the riders who participated in the racing clinic as part of their regular physical education class.

The day began with the Grade 3 and 4 riders, lead by Jennifer Marquis who was instrumental in getting this program into Davis Bay Elementary. After a short session on the basics of braking, turning and riding with others, the kids got right into racing. The kids divided into two groups, one for the hot-shots and one for the newer riders. Using a 20 meter grass oval, the kids chased and sprinted against each other in 3 lap races (less than 1 minute in total duration). Each of the students raced hard with the last rider coming in less than 10 seconds behind the first. In each race the kids bumped and jostled for position as though they had done all of this before. The session ended with some more cycling skills including the ever popular “tire buzzing” drill where riders follow a partner and touch their front tire to the back tire of the rider in front of them as many times as possible. The buzzing and gurgling noise of the tires was cause for huge laughter with these young riders.

Next up was the Grade 5 and 6 class lead by Ken Wholberg who is actually related to one of Canada's best cyclists - Eric Wholberg. Ken was so keen on cycling that he even brought his bike out for the event. The kids were stoked to be missing science class in favour of learning races like the Miss and Out and Win and Out. They also learned that gravity is a very real force - with one riding overlapping wheels in the final sprint of the Points Race - taking a soft tumble on the grass and quickly jumping to her feet.

The final class of the day was reserved from the Grade 7's. With greater strength and the ability to listen while riding, these kids did an incredible job of learning group riding skills in a hurry. Without stopping for a rest, we progressed from one hand riding; to no hand riding; to clapping above your head; clapping behind your back and then below the top tube. We moved directly into group riding where the students progressed to leaning and pushing against their partner while pedalling. The kids handled all of these drills with ease and without fear. After that it was straight into a series of fast races around the grass velodrome before finishing with the World Championships of a game called “one-foot”, where riders try to trick others into putting a foot down or riding outside the oval.

The key to the day was fun. The kids were allowed to simply play on their bikes. The only rule was to listen when the coach was speaking - and we tried our very best to keep that to a minimum. The emphasis was on learning by doing and by encouraging kids to be creative and courageous on their bikes. The games we played taught the kids more about bike handling, safety and skill than could be taught in several hours of structured learning. Kids just need to be inspired and encouraged to experiment with their bikes. Not one of the kids was scared of the races or games we played. No one seemed to notice that we only used a bunch of pylons and our imaginations to create the world of bike racing in their regular school play area.

In speaking with Dave Marquis, one of the event organizers, it became apparent how special the Davis Bay Elementary clinic had been. Dave explained that almost all of the kids are bussed into that school, so the parents had to make special arrangements just to get the bikes there. On top of that, not all of the kids had their own equipment - which explained why a couple of the bikes and helmets were used by multiple riders throughout the day. To save time on learning names, we often call the kids by their bike's name. I can't tell you how many kids were named “Brodie” during our time at Davis Bay!

The Sunshine Coast is a hotbed for cycling. Thanks in large part to Doug Detwiller and the Sprockids program, cycling is ingrained in the school culture of the region. Davis Bay Elementary welcomed the Cycling BC Youth Team and easily integrated the program as part of the physical education classes. Hosting this event will most certainly lead to a high level of interest in competitive cycling in the future . Davis Bay Elementary is now an official Cycling BC Youth Team school. Thanks to all of the students, staff and parents for making the program a success.

- Dan Proulx, Cycling BC Youth Team Coach.


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