Looks of shock and surprise marked the faces of the 80 or so adult cyclists passed by a five-year-old in a 60-kilometre race last weekend.
On Saturday, Michael Greenway of West Vancouver crossed the finish line in the Tour de Victoria, clocking a time of 3 hours 27 minutes 35 seconds on his bright green, 20-inch mountain bike.
Exuding cool, the surrounding crowd reflecting of the lenses of his sporty sunglasses, one might wonder if he even broke a sweat. How does Michael describe the race? “Easy,” he says.
With around 700 metres of elevation gain, what makes his performance even more impressive is that the kid racer had to work much harder to pedal than his competitors.
“The problem is he spins out the gears,” explained his dad Andrew Greenway, who raced with his wife Ching Ling Ma alongside their son. “He’s got to spin at a much higher cadence to try and keep up, and to get going.”
'He always wants to race'
Last year Michael rode the 45-kilometre Victoria race at age four, and the 30-kilometre route in 2021 at age three. So far, one of the biggest challenges has been finding bikes that can keep up with him.
“We’ve tried everything, but we just have to wait,” Greenway said.
Given Michael’s history in the race, he’s gained acclaim among the other riders, including race founder and B.C. cycling legend Ryder Hesjedal. In 2012, Hesjedal won the Giro d’Italia, becoming the first Canadian to win one of cycling’s three Grand Tour events.
At the Victoria race, Hesjedal asked if the Michael was looking forward to the race. “I want to win,” the five-year-old replied.
“He’s very competitive,” Greenway said. “Sometimes we think he’s a little too mature. But in the end, he’s still a five-year-old and likes to play and do kid things.
“But on the bike, he’s very focused. He switches and he’s just in that competitive mode,” Greenway continued, adding that the next-youngest person in the race was age 12.
Michael started on a pedal bike at age two, and is an avid cross-country skier in the winter months. In terms of academic pursuits, he’ll begin kindergarten at Cypress Park Primary School in September.
While he can’t always choose his competitors, Greenway said his son would love to see more kids his age speeding around on bicycles.
“He always wants to race,” Greenway said.