John Willcox rounds the hairpin corner of the Observatory Hill Climb

John Willcox rounds the hairpin corner of the Observatory Hill Climb

Saanich junior cyclist climbing the ranks

Saanich's John Willcox, 16, qualified for Canada’s junior national track cycling team in April

Producing 400 watts of power on a bicycle is no small feat. To sustain that output for three and a half minutes, and you’re talking about an elite cyclist who is at the very least, dedicated to the conditioning and “suffering” that mark the sport.

John Willcox, 16, qualified for Canada’s junior national track cycling team in April when he circled the Burnaby velodrome (with a much steeper bank than the West Shore Velodrome) for a total distance of three kilometres in three minutes and 30.92 seconds. 

It was .13 seconds off the standard but still the fourth fastest among juniors (aged 16 to 17) in the country, enough to earn the Reynolds secondary student selection to Canada’s junior team for the UCI Juniors World Track Championships, Aug. 19 to 23 in Kazakhstan.

“Willcox is an athlete first and foremost, he’s quite talented at picking up movements quickly,” said his coach Jeff Ain. “You can see it in the gym, or if he runs. Without pumping (Willcox’s) tires too much, he’s an exceptional athlete, and you can definitely see it on the bike.”

During the school year Willcox spent mornings in Canadian Sports School at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence, and afternoons at Reynolds. Otherwise he’d train on his bike, checking in on a regular basis with Ain, head coach of the the Cycling NextGen program run by the Canadian Sport Institute at PISE.

Ain has coached top cycling talent with NextGen at PISE since 2013, including Oak Bay’s Adam de Vos, 21, who many consider Canada’s top male cyclist in the under-23 age group.

Willcox started in the sport as an 11-year-old, competing in the Victoria Cycling League’s open category D. But his true passion for the sport started as a 10-year-old, when his family, mom, dad, and older sister, did a 5.5-month bike tour of Europe.

“I think the gear and bike together weighed as much as me,” Willcox said. “I remember the front and back panier were loaded, and I only weighed 75 pounds, maybe.”

They hit Britain, Holland, France, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, and about two hours of Italy (during a day of Swiss riding).

“It definitely grew my love for cycling,” he said.

Until this year Willcox wasn’t a follower of the international pro cycling scene, such as the Tour de France. But that’s changing now.

“I’m starting to watch it more now that I understand it.”

Last year Willcox took a big leap towards his current status as a national team member when he won the cadet age (15 and 16 year old) national individual pursuit track championship.

His fourth place finish this year is just as big an accomplishment, as he is the only first year junior (17-18) to earn selection onto Canada’s five-member world junior track team. He doesn’t turn 17 until October, when he’ll be in Grade 12 at Reynolds.

“The individual pursuit is a key indicator for selection, to be fourth among all the juniors is exciting,” Ain said. “It allows the selectors to judge how well you’re able to do in other events, such as bunch races, to see if you’re tactically and technically smart too.”

Willcox’s focus is a mix of track endurance and road cycling and will continue that way. He enjoys road racing, evidenced by his Cat. 3 win of the Legislature Grand Prix during the Robert Cameron Law Cycling Series on June 7.

“What Willcox has shown is he’s progressing quickly,” Ain said. “The next step is the national men’s track endurance program, which he has access to as a member of the national team.”

The next big race for Willcox is the Cycling Canada Junior Road National Championships in Thetford Mines, Que., July 2 to 5.

Following that, Willcox will travel to Amsterdam in August for a two-week prep camp ahead of the World Juniors Track Championship. That’s when Team Canada will decide which races Willcox will compete in Kazakhstan.

Willcox does have to pay a portion of his way and is open to sponsorship at


Just Posted

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

(Black Press Media file photo)
Copper piping missing, as suspect found with tools in Oak Bay commercial block

Police briefs include missing dinghy, speed stop turned impaired, wallet swiped from unlocked car

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

The District of Saanich has pinpointed funding requests to Oak Bay and Victoria to help offset the purchase price of the Kings Park greenspace and keep the property intact. (Courtesy District of Saanich)
Saanich requests funding help from neighbours to preserve Kings Road green space

District hopes Victoria and Oak Bay will join them in protecting urban green space

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read