L-R Kirby Scheller, Amos Romanow and Anik Leclerk dove into their races at the provincial mountain biking championships May 27th. /SUBMITTED

By Laura Keil
In mountain biking competitions, sitting isn’t usually part of the contest. But three students from Valemount Secondary endured a 9+ hour drive to Trail in order to take part in their first organized trail race, the BC School Sports mountain bike championship at Red Mountain near Trail.

Sean Kelly, the Phys. Ed. teacher at Valemount Secondary who runs a twice-weekly bike club, organized the trip with the help of parent chaperones. More wanted to attend, but weren’t able. The three who could travel were Amos Romanow (Gr. 9), Kirby Scheller (Gr. 10) and Anik Leclerk (Gr. 12).

The group arrived Thursday evening and spent all Friday pre-riding the course. Saturday were the races. It began with a mass start cross-country race for each grouping (Jr. boys, Sr. boys, Girls etc) which took participants 30-45 minutes to complete and ranged from 9km to 13km depending on age.

Kirby Scheller got temporarily hung up on the start line when the people ahead of him stopped but the people behind him didn’t. There were between 75 and 90 kids at the start line for each group.

One of the mass starts. /SUBMITTED

“I was involved in a pile-up,” he said. “In the beginning it was pretty chaotic. I just continued on my way.”

The cross-country track wasn’t your typical one. It involved climbing to the top of Red Mountain, a loop at the top, and then riding back down. The cross-country race ended up being Scheller’s favourite. And despite the rocky start, he would do it again.
“100 per cent,” he said.


Anik Leclerc said she was surprised how many kids were there.

“It was insane. I was definitely in shock.”

She would also return and compete again, despite it being a challenge.

“100 per cent any day. With training of course but I’d definitely do it again.”

This is the first race she’s done and says she felt pretty exhausted by the end. She’s been mountain biking for about three years.


“It was pretty hot that day. I was sweating a whole lot. But it was so much fun. Just being out on a bike all day and riding and seeing everyone else ride too. It definitely put me in my place. Other people were better than I was, and I was shocked to see what some kids were doing.”

Her favourite part was the enduro and all the downhill.

All three kids have attended Kelly’s bike club which he offers Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Kelly says they pedal up to the bike park, or, when it’s smoky, spend time working on skills at the school, such as cornering drills and jump practice.

“There’s endless numbers of skills you can work on at home, in a parking-lot format.”

He says pedaling uphill builds fitness, but the park also allows them to develop skills by working on features.

Before moving to Valemount in 2021, Kelly coached competitive mountain bikers ages 14-23 on a provincial level in Ontario.

For this latest competition, his emphasis was on staying safe and having fun.

“We’ve been doing lots of training days, but practising going to an actual bike race is a whole other experience. I kept it really focused on having a good experience and a good time, and they really embraced that. I don’t think they felt pressured to perform. I wanted them to be safe and have a positive experience and build their stoke to want to continue to work hard and build the group and get a bigger group to go next year.”

He says after the cross-country and enduro races, they were pushing 25km and a lot of elevation.

“I was really impressed with all three of them. I don’t think any of them expected to have as much fun as they did in the cross-country event, and they all came back having had a really good experience. It was really hard, but they enjoyed it.”