Cana­dian Club

Build­ing a north­ern hub for rid­ing of all kinds

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Rob Stur­ney

Prince Ge­orge Cy­cling Club

Prince Ge­orge, B.C., a city of around 86,000 peo­ple that was first es­tab­lished as a North West Com­pany fur trad­ing post, is dubbed the cap­i­tal of North­ern B.C., al­though it sits almost at the same lat­i­tude as the prov­ince’s ge­o­graph­i­cal centre. Once a sawmill and pulp-mill town, the city’s econ­omy now de­pends on its role as the ser­vice heart of B.C.’S north. Known lo­cally as P.G. or Prince, it’s built in rugged coun­try where the Nechako River joins the Fraser River on its way to the Lower Main­land to meet the Pa­cific. The trails weav­ing through its hilly forests are the stomp­ing grounds of Prince Ge­orge Cy­cling Club (pgcc).

The club’s mem­ber­ship co-or­di­na­tor, Josh Straub, who says the club is at least 20 years old, boils down the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s en­dur­ing prin­ci­ple: “We’re a group of ded­i­cated vol­un­teers look­ing to im­prove cy­cling in P.G. in all forms.” Af­ter a real dearth of mem­bers in the first decade of the mil­len­nium, mem­ber­ship has grown grad­u­ally to 200 rid­ers.

The centre of P.G.’S moun­tain bike scene – short on rac­ing but long on rid­ing – is the Pid­h­erny Recre­ation Site, just north­west of where the Nechako drains into the Fraser. pgcc holds trail main­te­nance nights in Pid­h­erny, al­ter­nat­ing with club rides. Straub rec­om­mends link­ing up a few of Pid­h­erny’s de­lights if you’re in town: “North­ern Lights to Kitchen Sink and Lazy Su­san is a great tech­ni­cal loop with amaz­ing wood­work and view­ing points. If you’re look­ing for more ped­alling, an equally great loop is Mcleod and Screefer to Ditch Pig.”

Mem­bers can also be found rid­ing the dirt of the Ot­way Nordic Centre, where youth Learn to Ride camps in the spring and sum­mer help young rid­ers de­velop their skills. It was in P.G.’S Her­itage sub­di­vi­sion in 1973 that I learned to ride a bike.

“You can splash in the river be­fore re­turn­ing via a beau­ti­ful coun­try road that has very lit­tle traf­fic.”

It seems nat­u­ral that Prince Georgians would take to fat-bike rid­ing in the win­ter, as the town used to host the snow golf world cham­pi­onships. Straub says, “We have ded­i­cated win­ter trails that see a lot of use.”

“Road rac­ing,” Straub notes, “has tra­di­tion­ally been the back­bone of the club.” An elab­o­rate points sys­tem tal­lied through­out a season of road races, time tri­als and crits de­ter­mines an­nual cham­pi­ons. In 2016, 42 men, 12 women and two youths scored points. The crown jewel of the road season is the 65-km Koops Clas­sic race from Pur­den Lake Pro­vin­cial Park to the city.

But the lo­cal road rid­ing isn’t all about com­pe­ti­tion, Straub adds. He sug­gests a ride north on the smooth pave­ment of High­way 97 to Sal­mon Val­ley. “You can splash in the river be­fore re­turn­ing via a beau­ti­ful coun­try road that has very lit­tle traf­fic.”

The club boasts a board of di­rec­tors with mem­bers who ad­dress spe­cific types of rid­ing, like road, moun­tain and ur­ban. “The ur­ban di­rec­tor,” Straub notes, “has been in­stru­men­tal in bike-lane de­vel­op­ment as well as ini­tia­tives for bike racks in the down­town core.”

Straub hopes that his city be­comes a centre not only for ser­vices, but also, like nearby towns, for out­door pur­suits. “We feel P.G. de­serves to be a real des­ti­na­tion for cy­cling and out­door ad­ven­ture,” he says, “like other great north­ern des­ti­na­tions like Wil­liam’s Lake, Burns Lake and Smithers.”

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