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Where does the young blood come from?(7 posts)

Where does the young blood come from?Marketing Dept
May 29, 2003 7:14 AM
The post below, specifically a reply from Dave H. reminded me of a question that regularly pops into my head.

How do we get the next generation ready to take on the Euro squads?

I have considered starting a young cyclist program, even to the point of supplying some decent bikes/equiptment. However, the first hurdle I run into everytime is that parents are afraid to let their 12 year olds out on the road. Even in my very rual area where skunks and tractors pose more threat than autos.

What have some of you done, what worked, what didn't?
re: Where does the young blood come from?TJeanloz
May 29, 2003 7:32 AM
I'm not sure that "starting them young" is the right approach. I know an awful lot of kids who were multiple national champions at 14-15-16, and completely burned out of the sport by age 18. Most of the best American riders currently on the scene didn't take up the sport until they were in their late teens or early 20s. Most are just phenominally talented athletes who are very good racers from the moment they pick up a bike.

I think "junior development" programs are a waste of time and money, and nothing but an ego stroke for the parents who run them. But that's just my opinion.
re: Where does the young blood come from?Marketing Dept
May 29, 2003 10:49 AM
I tend to agree a great deal with what you are saying on both issues, burn out and ego/following in the parents footsteps.

Now that I have children, should I keep them out of racing then and let them consider it at college?

Perhaps the better question would have been, how do we get the young'ens interested in road racing? Just have them come out to watch their dad slug it out?
I have a 15-year old who's into racing...YoGeorge
May 29, 2003 12:24 PM
We had my son doing 50-milers on a stoker kit when he was 6 years old, and he did his first solo 50-miler when he was 8 with his mom and me. (Actually, he was doing 50 milers in a bugger when he was 4 months old...) I'm not a racer, but more of a tourist and fitness rider who occasionally likes to ride fast.

When Cory was 13, I got him a nice mountain bike (Giant Rainier, mostly Deore, but way cool looking polished aluminum frame and disk brakes), and that bike literally changed his life; he started getting strong and fast, turning into a gearhead. The Rainier is now mostly XT equipped, and Cory is great with working on bikes.

That same year, I set up a road bike for him--an old Fuji that the lady down the street was putting out in the trash. I put some nice wheels and good (if outdated) components on it from my bottomless parts boxes, but it still had friction downtube shifters. We found he could hang on our Wednesday night club rides, which were 25-35 milers, and dug it a lot. Late in the year, he won or came in 2nd at a couple neighborhood junior races. TV coverage of the TDF and stuff helped, and warming up with guys like Frankie Andreu, from our area, was cool for him. He'd never been into other sports, so this was his thing.

Last year, when he was 14, I said he'd get a nice road bike if he kept his grades up, and he did that in spades (the bicycling helped a ton with his self esteem). Near the end of the school year, he got a nice new Trek 2300, Ultegra, and a Wolverine team uniform (we are members).

Cory came in 3rd in the Michigan Festina series last year in the 13-14 age group.

This year, he's been in 2 races, and not done as well, since there's a larger, stronger 15-16 year old group around here this year. And rather than pursuing a strict training regimen, he just likes to ride...FAST He pulled the local ride last night for 10-12 miles of the 40+ total we did--his favorite thing is getting in front during a headwind and speeding up, or hauling butt in the sprints.

His goal this year is to race a bunch, ride fast a bunch, and win what he can win. He doesn't have a major interest in structured training, and ya know, I'm just *not* going to push him into that because it's his choice and he's a kid. I'd be content to just ride around the neighborhood with him. And he loves mountain biking as well, where the "real" road racers are encouraged to just ride road bikes a lot. He also likes camping with Boy Scouts, building and racing R/C cars, and all that is great. (Last summer, our Boy Scout High Adventure trip was a bike ride across Michigan, and Cory was the head honcho rider.)

So he may be young blood of the future, or he may not. What will be will be. I'd rather he was able to spend a long and healthy life riding than to race a few years and get injured or burn out.

(I'd push him a lot harder if there was really big money in bike racing 8-))

George
I have a 15-year old who's into racing...rrjc5488
May 29, 2003 3:27 PM
Hey, being 15, you're getting first hand info. If I were you, I'd see if he wanted to get on a good training program, if he doesnt, so be it, but try to get him onto one for two reasons: 1)Being in the 15-16 year old age group he obviously (and rightfully so) isnt going to be as strong as the other 16 year olds, and if he's not doing as well as he was, he might get down and want to stop. 2) If he gets good enough and strong enough by working hard enough, he might get onto the podium which is gauranteed to get his hopes up, and try to get him to train all year so he wont lose his fitness (chances are he'll keep getting better, provided he rests enough to not burn out) he might get first place (i dont recall hearing you say he came in first) which will probably make him feel really good and to pursue cycling more.
If he likes it so much already (hope he does) to not give up and keep trying, good for him.
Im just saying this because I'm kind of in the same position( a few sprint triathlons last season) placed decently mor towards top 25% overall, but i asked my track coach (former triatlete) to make me a training program for triathlons but focusing on the bike part (i hope to do a few juniors road race/crits/TT's this year) and he said I'd get better if i was on a training program rather than just going out and swimming, biking, and running. Good luck with your son.
Thanks, and best of luck to you....YoGeorge
May 29, 2003 6:51 PM
Hi there:
Cory came in 2nd in a bunch of races last year, because the overdog was a kid who's been racing since he was 8 and is really more like adult Cat 3 level. This was the only kid who consistently beat him last year, but as you say, the 16 year olds are tougher competition. Actually, he rode a time trial this year where he was 5th or 6th in the 15-16 group, but would have been 2nd in the 17-18 group, because of a "bubble" in this particular age group in this particular area...

A real training program is kind of difficult to construct and takes a time commitment that he's not ready for at this point, I don't think. And sadly, the team junior coach for the Wolverines was killed (in a bicycle accident) on May 2nd, so that throws a bit of a monkey wrench into the works right now.

Last winter, I was taking him to a shop where they had a couple Computrainers set up, and he was riding with a couple other folks, so he did do *something*, but again it was a time commitment both for him and for me. We've got mag trainers, rollers, and stuff at home, and he just won't use them.

My sense is that when he turns 16 and gets a driver's license, he'll have the opportunity to get himself to more serious training situations. We've got a veldrome in the area (about 30 miles away) and some race training stuff, again about 30-40 miles away, and they do stuff at 6 pm, making it impossible for me or his mom to get him there after work (and I've tried to get carpool stuff going). So if he's into racing next year, he'll have way more opportunity to train.

We'll see how this year goes, and I thank you for your ideas and wish you the best in your own racing...

George
re: Where does the young blood come from?rrjc5488
May 29, 2003 3:33 PM
being 15, you're getting first hand info:
If they're into the sport enough, they'll stick with it. Im not looking forward to having to stop cycling ever. And if they like the sport enough, the egotistic parents wont have anything to do with the kid riding, it shouldnt anyway. And not to bash or anything, but you shouldnt really say that "junior development" programs are a waste of money, it would suck to just have your races and free opportunities taken away. The kids riding today are cycling's future.