Henry Pejril is hoping the success of Sunday’s Race the Ranch is a sign of things to come for the Kamloops Performance Cycling Centre.
Pejril, the organizer of the downhill mountain-bike race, said the event has drawn more competitors in each of its four runnings. Around 360 bikers — in more than 15 categories — took part in the race.
The event was held at the Kamloops Bike Ranch, which is now the Kamloops Performance Cycling Centre. The KPCC includes trails for downhill, cross-country and cyclocross riders, as well as a recently improved BMX track and freestyle jumps.
The success of Race the Ranch is what Pejril hopes to see all season and in the future as well. The KPCC is hoping to improve the trails and gear them towards more competitive riders.
“When the bike park was built, it was built as a free-ride recreational park,” Pejril said. “Since then, we’ve been holding races in for years, so Cycling B.C. was interested in having an Interior centre for training.
“We’re turning it into a race venue, not just a free-ride place.”
The BMX track has been holding races for much of April, while the cyclocross season usually runs in the fall.
The Race the Ranch is the first downhill race of the season in B.C. — because of the climate in Kamloops, it’s perfect at this time of year. Pejril said that lots of riders came from all corners of B.C., along with Alberta and Ontario.
“Last year, we were the highest numbers in the province for downhill, and I would say we’ve got a pretty good chance for that this year,” Pejril said. “We’re early-season, we’re central in the province — the central location really helps.”
The KPCC’s goal is to become the main spot for elite riders to train between races. Already, Pejril said, provincial teams have come to Kamloops to train.
“The course is wired for downhill and there’s been a few clinics here already,” he said. “We have (timing) transmitters at the top and bottom so riders can time themselves as they go through training runs.”
Of course, there’s still plenty of work to do. In order to become better suited for cyclocross — where there’s a mass start and various obstacles scattered on the course — some trails would have to be widened to 10 feet.
Along with adding a full trail-marking system, the major work this season will be on the cross-country trails, which won’t be used for any official races this season.
“With all the silt in here, it’s not really sustainable,” said Pejril. “When you have a couple hundred riders and they go over it four or five times, it just kills it — turns the silt into moon powder.
“We’re going to re-do the trails to start up next year.”