Riley Pickrell’s trying not to get ahead of himself, but the Claremont secondary student just can’t help it.
It’s not actually at school where the Grade 9 is trying to pace himself – although he is already studying Math 10, not uncommon but also no easy feat – but on his bike.
The 14-year-old is the top U17 track cyclist in the country, as he finished first overall in the six-event omnium at last month’s 2015 Canadian Track Cycling Championship. Pickrell is forced into the U17 level because there is no U15 category at the national championship. It’s how he raced the majority of this season, and last, or else as a Category 3 male.
“When I race I don’t make excuses about age or equipment,” said Pickrell. “If they can do it, I can do it faster and on a bike that’s $3,000 less.”
Pickrell was certainly faster, winning four of the six omnium events. He was first in the scratch race, second in the individual pursuit, first in the elimination, second in the 500-metre time trial, first in the flying lap (3.5 laps of 250m) and first in the 10-kilometre points race (with sprints every 10 laps).
“I just made sure to realize that I’m younger than everyone else and that I shouldn’t expect results but just have fun,” Pickrell said. “…Like everything, the strength of the other riders across the country was exaggerated.”
Pickrell also took a silver in the team sprint with his Tripleshot cycling teammates Adam Attwell (Saanich) and Angus Brown (Victoria).
Pickrell wasn’t the only young Saanichite to perform well at the track nationals as Erin Attwell (sibling of Adam) landed bronze in the U17 women’s omnium. Erin also won gold with Victoria’s Sarah Van Dam in the team sprint and silver in the team pursuit with two riders from the Mainland, Margaret Ovenell and Maggie Coles-Lyster.
The latter, Coles-Lyster of Maple Ridge, is Erin’s top B.C. competition and finished ahead of Erin in four of the omnium races, winning gold.
Erin was second in the individual pursuit, first in the 500m time trial, third in the flying lap and third in the points race, with top-10 finishes in the other events.
Erin overcame a bad start to hold a spot on the podium.
“The scratch race didn’t go so well [ninth], having two big crashes in our field caused it to split and my race was pretty much over with three laps to go. I had to just focus on the next event, race it like it’s the last race you will ever do.”
She did turn it around for the time trial and the team event with Van Dam.
“The 500m time trial felt really good, I had a sharp start,” Erin said. “It couldn’t have been more perfect, just exploding from the start gate. I was very surprised to get a new personal best by over a second.”
The group of Tripleshot cyclists are now looking to extend their successful road and track seasons into the fall cyclocross season, eyeing the upcoming provincial cyclocross championship on Nov. 29.
Saanich’s John Willcox, 17, won silver in the U19 team sprint finals with Eloi Batista and Chris MacLeod.
“For the next season I don’t really have a goal, but I’m super excited to start road riding again, so I’ll most likely focus on some big road races,” Pickrell said.
“Right now, however, I just want to ride my bike.”
They’ll continue to work with Tripleshot coaches Lister Farrar and Kurt Innes, who run the FastTrack program at the Greater Victoria Velodrome.