Watson Lake cyclist Jesse Reams will be in race after race this month, but he’s not hoping for medal after medal – there’s a bigger prize at stake.
Reams is currently in Belgium as one of just eight Canadian cyclist vying for either four or five spots on the national team for the UCI Road World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, September 29 to October 3.
“I think I just need to focus on making sure I do my best to recover and rest and just get stronger as the month goes on and try not to worry if I have a bad race, just focus on the next one and ride smart and not be afraid to go for broke,” wrote Reams in an e-mail to the News. “(As for) my chances, well there are eight really strong guys in the pool, but I think Belgium racing really suits my style and strengths so hopeful I can get some good results and make the team.”
Helping earn Reams the spot in the selection pool was a second place finish in the U-23 division and ninth overall in the elite men’s division at the Road National Championships in Edmonton at the end of June.
Reams, who cycles for Garneau Evolution in Burnaby, BC, also won the Tour de Whitehorse at the start of July, an event he also won in 2008.
“My ride at nationals played a big part in my selection, also I had some good results over here in Belgium in May that also helped out,” wrote Reams. “The selection process is pretty much just a month of good hard racing. I think we have 12 days of racing planned, and then just recovery and training in between.”
News of Reams making the selection pool comes just a week after a significant accomplishment of another cyclist from Watson Lake.
Yukon’s Zach Bell, who cycles for Kelly Benefits Strategies Pro Cycling Team out of Minneapolis, was named to Canada’s Commonwealth Games team at the end of July, joining just 12 other male and female riders from across Canada.
“I’m looking forward to doing another big games as a Yukon athlete,” said the 27-year-old. “It’s exciting to be able to go back to the events where I got my international start.”
Making the team means Bell’s second trip to the Games, having competed at the last ones in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006, finishing fifth in the scratch race. Bell also set a Canadian record in Melbourne – four minutes and 31 seconds over four kilometres – in the individual pursuit, a record that stands today. Included on this year’s team is Travis Smith, who raced with Bell in 2006, winning two medals at the Games.
“I think the men’s road team is extremely strong,” said Bell. “I’m significantly better than I was at the last Games.”
In mid-July, Bell won the Tour de Delta road race in Delta, BC, breaking away from the lead pack of 10 riders in the final eight kilometres for the win.
“I never won that race before, and that’s actually the last race I did, so my form is starting to come in,” said Bell. “I’ve been chipping away at road results this year.”
He has also had top-five finishes in a couple American stage races over the last few months and began the year winning two gold medals at a World Cup event in Beijing.
Sport Yukon’s International Male Athlete of the Year award recipient the last two years, Bell also represented Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, finishing seventh in the points race.
Although both cyclists are rarely in their hometown these days, they are both involved with a new helmet campaign directed towards kids called “GET CAUGHT! Wear Your Helmet,” organized by former Team Yukon cyclist Heather Enders.
The program encourages children to wear their helmets by giving them prizes when they “get caught” with them on.
“The campaign has been an amazing success in teaching the kids in the Watson Lake area about helmet safety and getting them to wear one!” wrote Enders in an e-mail to the News. “The prizes really motivated kids to wear their helmets.”
Enders, who raced with Reams at the Canada Summer Games last August, took in the strongest overall results of any Yukon cyclist at the event.
“Heather has been a friend of mine for a number of years now and so when I heard she was doing the helmet campaign in Watson Lake – my home town – I thought it was awesome,” wrote Reams. “I had a helmet that I had crashed in a race so I thought well that’s proof that you should wear a helmet because, if I wouldn’t have had it on, I would have been hurt really bad. Instead, I was able to ride away. So I sent the helmet and a couple jerseys, which I am sure she will put to good use.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org