Megan Barnes, 14, stands in the bike storage shed at the velodrome in Colwood on Sunday. A competitive cyclist with the Tripleshot Racing Team, she was struck from behind by a vehicle on the edge of Willis Point Road while she and a training partner were riding on Friday. New information from two other riders may link the same vehicle with an earlier hit and run. Don Descoteau/News Gazette staff

UPDATE: Possible link between cyclist hit-and-runs in Saanich

Young competitive rider, a regular at Colwood velodrome, anxious to get back on her bike

Megan Barnes flew between 25 and 30 feet in the air after a pick-up truck hit her bicycle while she was training in Saanich late Friday afternoon.

That is what witnesses are telling her about the incident that happened as she and her training partner were preparing to climb a hill on Willis Point Road.

“I remember everything from the time I turned onto [Willis Point Road from Wallace Drive] and got hit, but I don’t remember anything between the time I got hit and when I ended up in the ditch,” Barnes, a North Saanich resident, said Sunday afternoon.

Police are currently looking for a heavy set woman with blonde hair, who witnesses say was driving the charcoal grey Dodge Dakota that hit Barnes. According to multiple accounts, the driver drove into the back of Barnes’ bicycle, then left the scene of the incident without stopping.

“It was a wide road and there was lots of room for both of us,” said Barnes.

Sherry Barnes, Megan’s mother, struggled to hold back her anger talking about the incident on Sunday at the velodrome facility in Colwood. “As a parent right now, I can’t believe someone targeted my child and left her in the ditch,” she said. “It’s unacceptable.”

The incident saw Barnes taken to hospital having suffered tissue damage to her left leg plus multiple bruises and contusions along her lower back and elbows.

Perhaps less clear is the long-term effect of the incident.

Tripleshot Cycling Club Lister Farrar said Barnes appears in “surprisingly good spirits” considering everything that happened, describing her as a “tough kid.” But he also said that the incident might exact a mental toll. “She is going to be gun-shy (about riding) for a while,” he said.

Barnes, who sounded anxious to get back out on her bike, appeared aware of that possibility. “I’m hoping that it won’t impact me very much in my cycling,” she said. “I can’t tell. I have not been on the bike since (Friday).”

A national-level cyclist, Barnes plans to compete for Canada, possibly at the Summer Olympic Games in 2024. “I’m hoping that this hit-and-run won’t impact my goal.”

Since word of the incident spread, two other Greater Victoria men who are competitive cyclists have reported that they experienced a similar aggressive driving incident in the area, with a vehicle that may match the description of the truck involved in Friday’s hit-and-run.

Farrar said one of the two men crashed into the back of the truck when the driver slammed on the brakes after overtaking the riders. The second rider sped after the vehicle and took a snapshot of the vehicle and licence plate, which he passed on to police.

“There is an element of the motoring public that feels that cyclists don’t have a right,” Farrar said. “You’ve got to give your head a shake, you’re driving a one-ton vehicle and you’re going to threaten someone dressed in sports clothes and running shoes? It just doesn’t make any sense at all that people have that kind of road rage.”

Farrar said he is now hopeful that people will come forward with information about the driver and the vehicle, which broke the back axle of Barnes’ bike.

Barnes said she did not see the truck approach her from behind. “I was focused on getting up Willis Point Road,” she said.

The hit propelled Barnes through the air and down a grassy embankment, where she came to rest. Farrar said Barnes was lucky, as the grass cushioned the impact.

Told by her doctor to get plenty of rest, Barnes is working through what happened to her. “I’m getting used to the fact that I’ve been hit by a car.”

– With files from Don Descoteau/News Gazette staff

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