UPDATE: Olympian Simon Whitfield will not be in attendance and the full day Bike Skills course is has moved to Sept. 29.
The Oak Bay Community Bike Festival, slated for Willows Beach Park on Sept. 22 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is the perfect time to “celebrate everything bike”, according to Janet Barclay, manager of Recreation Program Services for Recreation Oak Bay.
“We’re expecting several hundred people to attend this free event, and we know that it’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone,” she said. “It’s a chance to promote the use of bikes as a method of transportation, a form of recreation, a path to physical fitness and even as a competitive sport. Bikes are very versatile and offer a range of uses and benefits.”
The event is planned to coincide with Participaction’s Sport Day Canada and is Oak Bay’s contribution to the event.
“A lot of people are passionate about cycling,” said Barclay. “We’re happy to grow our event from that passion.”
The day boasts a diverse range of activities for riders of all ages and skill levels.
Lister Farrar, a coordinator for the event, says one of the highlights of the day will be the three workshops planned at Willows Beach. The first of these will be hosted by the Margaret Jenkins School Bike Club and features a series of ramps, bridges and teeter totters upon which beginner riders can hone their balance and riding skills. That activity will be suitable for children as young as age seven.
A second clinic, hosted by the Monterey School Mountain Bike Club, provides a similar, but more challenging course for older riders.
Finally, a clinic will be held on the sport of cycle-cross. “That’s sort of a cross between road riding and off-road free riding,” explained Farrar. “It’s a great sport that isn’t as extreme as free riding, yet incorporates some of the challenges of that activity.”
A first aid station for bikes (for those machines that need a little mechanical tweaking) will be set up at the park as well. “We might not be able to fix the major problems, but we can at least tell you what’s wrong and needs to be done,” said Farrar. That station will be provided by Oak Bay Bicycles.
For those individuals who just want to go for a ride, two options will be offered.
The first is a six kilometre community ride provided with the cooperation of the Oak Bay police department. Officers on bikes, with the help of a few cruisers, will keep the road clear of motorized traffic with a series of rolling road closures. It’s an ideal opportunity for riders of all skill levels. including children, to take to the road in safety.
Mayor Nils Jensen will be taking part in that ride. He’s an avid cyclist who annually clocks more than 3,500 kilometres on his own bike and has spent the last four summers on biking vacations, here and in Europe. “This council is hugely supportive of cycling as a way to reduce our carbon footprint,” Jensen said. “And this is going to be a great event – it’ll be fun.”
A more challenging group ride will be hosted by the Triple Shot Cycling Club, where riders will learn the etiquette of riding in a group and experience the enjoyment and camaraderie of this type of ride.
In addition to all of these activities, the event will also give Oak Bay residents a chance to meet Olympic bronze medalist Gillian Carleton. “These athletes are great role models,” Jensen said. “How often do you get to go for a bike ride with an Olympic champion?”More information on the Community Bike Festival can be found at recreation.oakbaybc.org.