Cyclists will put pedal to the metal at BC Seniors Games in Langley

Langley’s Tom Barichello has been racing on bicycles and an off since about 1980.

The Langley farmer started when he was teaching school in New Zealand.

He came back home to take over the family farm in 1981 and kept riding, taking part in Ironman triathlons, in duathlon with both running and cycling, and in off-road cycling and adventure racing.

In recent years he’s gone back to road racing, the sport in which the bikes are sleek and light.

A few years ago, a friend of his who is still racing bikes into his 70s, suggested Barichello take part in the BC Seniors Games

“I decided that I would go up to Kamloops,” he said, and he competed in last year’s games and had quite a bit of fun.

Because of that, Barichello was open to taking on the challenge of organizing this year’s cycling events for the games to be held in Langley early next month.

There are as many competitive cycling disciplines as there are types of bicycle.

For this year’s races, there will be three events, each a different kind of challenge.

The races run over three days, with one race each day.

On Thursday, Sept. 11 the riders will try their hand at an individual time trial. The ride will be a 16-kilometre route in which riders aged 55 to 85 – there is one entry for the highest age category – will ride separately, competing against the clock. The rider with the fastest time in each division will claim victory.

On Friday, the road race will take place on a lapped course near the Thunderbird Show Park. Riders will leave in groups, but it won’t be the true massed start seen on many international bike races. They’ll leave in groups every five minutes. Riders will have to cover between six and 10 laps, depending on their age and category, over a six kilometre course. Those riding the most laps will cover about 60 km, hitting the moderate hills on 248th street and 64th Avenue.

For those who want steeper slopes, the hill climb challenge on the Saturday will be the event to look forward to.

“We’ve actually moved it out of Langley,” said Barichello.

There just aren’t enough long, steady hills in Langley – the local terrain tends towards gentler slopes or sudden, steep climbs up out of ravines or flatlands.

So the riders will head over to Whatcom Road in Abbotsford for a course that’s around three kilometres, uphill all the way.

“Each race has its challenges,” said Barichello. He noted that most riders will do all three, although that may make the final day of hill climbing a bit more challenging.

There will be approximately 100 riders coming out to Langley, making cycling one of the most popular sport of the Seniors Games, along with golf, dragon boat racing, and team activities.

“One aspect is that it’s a little easier on your body, in terms of the biomechanics,” Barichello noted.

He knows some runners who have gotten a little older and have gotten tired to hammering their bones on asphalt roads, and have switched to the bike.

In addition, riding can be either a social or a solo activity, and can give people the opportunity to re-ignite their competitive instincts.

Learn more, or sign up to volunteer for the Seniors Games, at www.2014bcseniorsgames.org.

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