Today’s post is a guest post from Jen Charrette, one of my fellow Adventure Moms! Jen is an accomplished road and mountain bike competitor. She and her husband are raising two young cyclists. You can read more about all things bicycle and family at her blog, Velomom.com.
Junior Development for Young Cyclists
Has your son or daughter taken an interest in cycling? Do you want to get them involved with other kids to learn more skills, safety and/or race? Luckily there is junior development cycling programs all over the country.
Last August my son attended a weeklong mountain bike day camp in Durango, Colorado. It was a summer extension of the Durango Devo youth development cycling program. He was six and it was the first time he’d gone mountain biking with other kids his age. At the end of the week he biked away with more skills, confidence and a better understanding of his abilities.
Durango Devo Junior Cycling Development has over 300 kids ages 2-25 learning about mountain biking, commuting, cyclocross, gravity/freeride, and road biking. Devo’s mission is to create life long cyclists. They have 17 groups and 40 coaches ranging from a Push Bike Group to a U25 Sweet Elite Development team.
Luckily, these development groups are not just in iconic cycling locations like Durango and Boulder. They are taking off in small and large towns across the country like Boise, Tampa and Los Angeles. We even started one here in our small relatively non-cycling mountain town. In the first year we have over 20 eager kids learning skills and attending their first races.
Benefits of a Development Program
When school lets out, there are so many after school activities to choose from. These development programs are one of those fun, after school activities. Sarah Tescher, Director of Durango Devo states, “The fact that Devo has more National Champions than other junior cycling program in the country is secondary to our mission. Devo is easy to access for all levels of riders and cost the same as any other local sports program. We have scholarships, loaner bikes and helmets.”
This is a good point. These programs are not just for élite cyclists or for kids whose parents are hooked on cycling. Douglas Tobin, Founder and Director of Boise Young Rider Development Squad (B.Y.R.D.S.) has found that some kids are not that excited about the traditional team sports. While there may be many reasons for this including they are not that engaged with the specific sport, or bored with sitting on the bench, or lack of focus or skill in a sport, or many other poor experiences, the sport of cycling offers kids a constant engagement. This can be either individually focused and in some cases team focused. Nobody sits on the bench in cycling. For all of the time and effort you put in, you will get something back, you will experience personal rewards, and you can measure your development.
David Pulliam, Director of Major Motion Junior Cycling Club says it perfectly. “Kids need kids around them to continue to have a fun experience.”
It’s a Progression
Asher Rudkin is a member of Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures based in Boulder Colorado (SMBA) and has been riding with SMBA for one year. “I love SMBA because it is different from other mountain bike teams. We don’t just ride one discipline; we compete in most varieties of mountain biking. I also love that we take time to help the community and support the trails we ride. Before SMBA I never biked or spent enough time outside. After SMBA every chance I get I am outdoors biking.” On the other spectrum are the many national champions these programs have produced. Grace Alexander (17) a member of Boise Young Rider Development Squad, (B.Y.R.D.S.) is a 4 time National Champion, member of USA road and mountain worlds teams in 2011, National MTB Team member in 2012.
Dose of Inspiration?
Many kids get their first dose of inspiration by watching athletes on TV. While this is easy for football or baseball you’ll have to dig a little deeper for cycling. The good news is networks like Universal Sports and NBC Sports now carry most road, mountain bike, track and BMX events.
For road bike fans you can catch the USA Pro Cycling Tour in Colorado this August. Unlike football or baseball, your child will be able to get at least a hand full of autographs from the best pros in the world. Also check out local cycling events. Local events offer a wide range of opportunities to watch or join in on races. There has also been a big push to include more kid friendly events like junior races, bike rodeos and play areas. It’s never too early to introduce them!
Portions of the post originally published at Women’s Adventure, May 21, 2012.
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