As season two of Team Rockford-Clif’s Juniors cyclocross (CX) camp draws to a close here in Bozeman, MT. I’d like to take some time and share some thoughts and details about the program. Some background on the program was recently featured in the Bozeman Magpie. I am writing this largely to debrief from the season and work toward building and improving next season’s camp.
If you are interested in more ‘Cross resources, I have written about CX before on The Art of Adventure, including a guide to CX resources, and Interviews with CX pros -Â Jeremy PowersÂ and the lateÂ Amy Dombroski.
The Team Rockford Â Juniors ‘cross program is designed to be a progression of skills. We start with learning to ride on dirt and grass with the end goal to progress to being able to ride any race course created in MT (or nationally for that matter). The age range of the participants are 7-15, so naturally there is a wide range of experience and abilities. One thing I learned is that a good rule of thumb is to cut the difficulty of any one part of practice in half, and double the fun. I place a premium on doing something new – which causes interpersonal competition, and on Â mini races or contests – which highlights the intrapersonal competitive aspect.
We start each practice with w 10 min warmup lap around the team Rockford permanent CX course, including barriers and run ups.
Our favorite games and activities are: Follow the leader (Around Bozeman’s tree-filled Lindley park. Variation: the last rider must pass everyone and become the new leader. Additional variation: the passing rider must alternate passing on the left then right of each rider in turn.), passing contests on a short loop with many corners (we use a four leaf clover type course and you get 1,000,000 points each time you pass someone), Learning to bunny hop, Learning to wheelie, No touch/foot down (small square where you try to force riders off their bike or out of the square without taking you hands or feet of the bike. This is probably better done with beaters than race bikes, but works either way), single track riding on the local trails across the Bozeman Hills, Riding the pump track at the BMX park (and having contests to see how far you can get along the track without pedaling – only pumping), Off camber hill-side slalom through cones, and exploring the local trails. Â We have a good number of easy single track trails here in Bozeman – just remember that you will be stoping frequently and budget 300% extra time!
Results and ReflectionÂ
Many of the kids end up doing the local weekend races or the Wednesday night series. after just a few weeks, kids are good enough to race in the juniors category races, which end up being a few laps instead of the kids races, which are usually one lap or less.
I think “field trips” are a good idea. Â We have a home base course where we meet every week, and everyone gets excited about going to ride the BMX park or the sand pits over at the “Bozeman Beach”
When a new kid showed up at camp, I asked them how they heard about it – usually from a parent. Parents were either on the team or had seen a flyer around town or at a school. Â To increase attendance, we need to get more parents and teachers to recommend the camp. One way to do this might be to get local teacher to participate. Â We have also talked about expanding the camps to include Mountain Biking and Road biking in the summer.
Team Rockford provide free Giant (our team sponsor hooked us up)CX bikes for kids to try out and borrow if they don’t have a bike or only have a mountain bike. Â This could be a major selling point and should reduce the barrier of entry for kids on the fence.
I don’t think many kids know what CX is all about, so in addition to the poster, a short video (lifted from youtube?) could go a long way to generating excitement.
Do you have experience running a similar Juniors cycling program? Â Want to know more about what we do here in Bozeman? Â Leave a comment below or send me an email!