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Old 06-15-16, 11:36 AM   #1
AZSkeptic
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Formal Cycling Training for Children

For those who have children who compete in cycling, at what age did you begin to formalize their training? In other words, when did you go beyond just casually riding around with them for fun to providing a formal training plan with the intent to begin competing? (FYI, I don't plan to give up the informal fun rides as a family--a training plan would just supplement that.)
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Old 06-15-16, 11:42 AM   #2
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first and foremost, the question to ask is whether the kid wants to compete or you want him/her to compete.
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Old 06-15-16, 11:45 AM   #3
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paging @Doge
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Old 06-15-16, 11:54 AM   #4
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The high schools around here have MTB teams. That seems like the appropriate age to get serious for most sports. There was a Grom race series for younger kids this April-May, though with only three races it didn't look like it was a big consistent program.
Folsom Grom MTB Series
Folsom Cycling | Home of the Bulldogs
https://www.facebook.com/broncosmtb/
Norcal High School Cycling League
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Old 06-15-16, 12:03 PM   #5
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Thanks for that page.
I had my son sailing, playing rugby, T-ball, going to the soccer fields (for sister) and running around kindergarden-3rd grade. But about age 6-7 cycling took. He loved it. He was very serious. He wanted to race crits in the rain. He wanted to do hill repeats with mom. He loved the pain. So by age 8-9 we were pretty involved. About age 11 he was winning so much he thought he was too good for training. Age 12-13 he started not winning. We kept him home from Nationals (GA) and said - not big deal, just don't expect the cool bikes. And...you will do something. He decided about age 14 to really go all in and we made some 1-2 year agreements with him (before we bought him a new bike). We got him a coach and he did what he was told. So until this year and getting accepted to college, he's been totally committed. This year, not as much.

For formal training plan - about age 14 is good. I would get them into racing early and see where it takes them. I think a mix of riding adult and kids is good, but kids need to win, do well sometimes to support the desire to train. But also found racing him up, without the expectation of winning was not as disappointing for him when he didn't.

Some kid video (I'm very nostalgic now his youth racing is over)
Age 5
https://vimeo.com/98776079Age 7
https://vimeo.com/96866872Racing age 9 - he was 8, almost 9
Just the joy of pain:

Then the serious days:
https://vimeo.com/channels/willett

Last edited by Doge; 06-15-16 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 06-15-16, 12:26 PM   #6
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There are a couple local teams near me that focus solely on developing junior racers. I've seen kids out at cross races as young as 9 or 10. I know one team has a coach and does a lot of group rides and training. There are definitely more kids out at the cross races than road races though.
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Old 06-15-16, 12:40 PM   #7
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Road training for kids is tough due to traffic. They still are not very traffic savvy until older. They don't "get" right-of-way etc without lots of reminders. My son was a pretty good racer when he did a left turn in front of an SUV (who stopped).
So, while we didn't do it, I think an off street program may be better for the younger age.
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Old 06-15-16, 12:55 PM   #8
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My 12-year old son has been racing since he was 9. We have a very mellow parent-led juniors program. We do Sunday rides on the bike trail or quiet country roads where we focus on paceline skills and steady pacing. We've also done some skills clinics where we work on bike handling. Lately, I've been introducing Lucas to some intervals but I try to do it in a fun way. For example, I'll pace him for 3 minutes, then we soft pedal, repeat. Or we'll sprint for signs, just make it a game.

But as far as a formal training program? Nope. The absolute last thing I want to do is make bike riding seem like a chore.

By the way, this follows the advice we received from current road World Champion.
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Old 06-15-16, 01:13 PM   #9
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My brother went to "Nationals" as a Midget. Not a lot of formal training for us, but those who actually were top competitors were truly putting in an insane amount of miles for 12 yr olds. I don't remember the exact figures, but it was hundreds of miles a week. They also had some very sweet 24" bicycles (as required at the time).

A road cycling camp would be fun, but the liability would be insane.

There is a Boy Scouts Camp at the base of the McKenzie Pass. Perhaps one could work out a schedule where one could get kids while the road is closed to through traffic. Unfortunately, before traffic, the roads are also less clean, and I can just imagine kids bombing down switchbacks without a care in the world.

If one really wanted to do a "camp", one would have to pick out a place with some good very low traffic rural roads, and let all the neighbors know what is up.
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Old 06-15-16, 01:19 PM   #10
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Oh, as far as road riding, I had the rules of the road down while in Gradeschool, and was doing doing 20 mile or so solo rides ending up in the nearby city before I was 12.

I know about attention, and have been working with my nephew and niece. They just don't get enough practice. I told my niece to signal, and she didn't want to release the handlebars.

A couple of riders can use the shoulders, but it could be problematic for big group rides.
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Old 06-15-16, 01:21 PM   #11
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http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/cca-xdoc...ts/ltad_en.pdf
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Old 06-15-16, 01:29 PM   #12
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I dunno how old they are (and T-Town's new website is a mess on anything other than an excellent internet connection) but at T-Town there are some pretty young looking riders on the track. Looks like they have a relatively formal, pretty good training system for young riders (maybe 12 or so? I dunno, I'm bad at estimating kid's ages). The track in general is much more formal and structured like that though.
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Old 06-15-16, 03:02 PM   #13
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Thank you everyone for your feedback. Very helpful.
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