The Chicago Cyclocross Cup, with exceptional help from people like Paul Swinand and Lou Kuhn from the PonyShop, has done something spectacular. It is not unusual to see 100+ juniors line up at any given race! It gives a lot of hope for the future of our sport and CX is finally feeling a little less fringe.
According to Paul Swinand “Kids want to have fun. If it is not fun they’re gone”. The Pony Shop crew doesn’t have structured training for their juniors, but rather rides and events. It keeps them interested because it keeps it fun.
Chris Lombardo, father of the fastest kid to come out of the cup, shared much the same sentiments. “Even when David was showing a strong interest and ability in the sport we kept it light. We did do training at intensity at a certain point, but we’d be laughing while trying to beat each other up a hill”. Chris also points out that too much intensity can actually stunt a child’s ability to grow and develop to their full physical potential. And not only is David Lombardo an amazing bike racer, he also goes through life with proper balance and that is a testament to parents who helped him keep the big picture in mind.
Interest is at least as important as talent. Odds are that the most naturally gifted endurance athlete in the world is hanging out somewhere right now not thinking about endurance sports. There are many at the top of their respective game though that were mid-pack in the beginning. Music, academics, sport….whatever. Kids that love something can become great at it.
One of the challenges you face as a parent is that there are not always a group of fellow juniors to ride with. In this case you’ll walk a fine line between fun, encouragement and preparation. We’ve created a schedule for this very situation that blends skills, fitness and fun together.
Monday – off
Tuesday – skills. Easy ride with some work on starts, barriers and cornering. All fun, no hard efforts unless they want to do them.
Wednesday – bandit CX if available. Otherwise just a fun ride on a challenging course.
Thursday – off
Friday – off
Saturday – Kid Opener. Essentially the same as Tuesday’s skills ride.
Sunday – CCC race
Keep in mind that this is an example of the most training that we would recommend in a week. Wednesday turns into more of a fitness oriented effort and Sunday is the hard ride. Two days with some intensity is plenty and keep them fun. Regardless of the schedule that you have in mind, an important part of the mix is to listen, learn and change things up if that is what your child needs.
Kids are awesome!