I would like to update you on our Cycling Programs now that we’re half-way through our season. We redesigned our cycling offerings for 2010 and my vision of a complete Bend Endurance Academy Cycling Program is coming alive! Check out the headlines below to see how our mission involves our athletes, their parents and the greater cycling community.
Our Mighty Bikes Session 2 is about to start, so enrollment is open online and we have room for lots more kids! At only $150 for 5 weeks, it’s a fantastic deal and will elevate your child’s riding faster than you can say, “Hey, wait for me!”
What Changed for 2010?
- We debuted our Freeride Program, allowing kids to learn how to dirtjump and use more technical skills to be safe on the bigger terrain that is being developed on our trails.
- We reformatted our Mighty Bikes program to have a more specific progression over both 5 and 10 weeks so we can better track improvements and provide more specific coaching.
- We created our Development and Competition Programs. For athletes ages 12 – 18 these programs are the most comprehensive cycling programs in Central Oregon and are modeled on the most successful programs from around the country.
- We are integrated much more into the community.
- We will debut our redesigned Cyclocross Program this fall and it will work with local schools, race promoters and OBRA to get as many new juniors into the sport as possible.
- For July and August we’re adding Mini Bikes, for ages 6 – 8, where kids will play and ride on the trails to get ready for next year’s Mighty Bikes.
With an emphasis on skills progressions masked by fun rides and games, this is our summer cycling program for 8 – 12 year olds. They build fitness automatically at this stage. We offer cross-country (XC) and freeride (FR) mountain biking. XC and FR are very similar, but we decided that FR needed its own specialized coaches to provide an outlet for those kids who really want to pursue dirt jumping and other types of stunt riding.
We have had nearly equal enrollment in these programs so far this year. Both programs meet for 2 hours, twice a week, allowing them to participate in other sport interests, like soccer, little league, etc. without major scheduling conflicts.
Our Mighty Bikes groups maintain a coach to athlete ratio of less than 1:7 and by the end of the program the more advanced riders are often capable of riding for 2 hours on 99% of the trails in the Bend area.
Most gross improvements happen quickly, within the first 3 weeks. Then we can work on finer skills and bring up fitness and strength until the end of the 10 weeks. Many athletes and parents only notice that initial large improvement but we coaches know that the biggest improvements happen over the course of the full 10 weeks.
Development Program – 10 Weeks
The next step for riders 12 – 18 are the Development Programs. Riders meet about 3 days a week, sometimes more if there’s an event or race. Riders choose a discipline and stay with it for 10 weeks. We offer XC & FR mountain biking, Road and Cyclocross. These riders are interested in a specific area of cycling and get specific coaching for technique and fitness with the philosophy that they will race or compete in their discipline. Racing is not required but is often one of the best motivators to build internal drive.
We work on all aspects of preparing for competition to help minimize nervousness, stress and build confidence. I believe that competing can be a goal; winning is an outcome of competing well, but is a secondary goal for our Development program.
At this level, we begin to introduce our riders to the greater community around them. We have guest coaches who drop in to share their knowledge, we try to connect them to good mechanics and shops, help them understand how they can focus on a particular discipline but call themselves “cyclists,” and we help them find their place in the community. I believe our cycling community in Bend is one of the largest by population, but some organization is lacking to give it true visibility and strength.
Competition – 30 Weeks
We started on March 16 and have so far traveled to 4 races outside of Bend and competed as a team more than 10 times, with a rider on the podium at almost every race. We have 5 riders on the roster, ages 15 – 17. Highlights include Colin Dunlap winning the Junior Mountain Bike Cup Series and Cole Sprague helping some friends win the OBRA Jr Men Team Time Trial. We’re half way through our Comp program, with a break coming up in August, then we’ll take up cyclocross from September through Nationals in December.
There are some high school cycling clubs forming right now and there have been others in the past, but the schools have little resources to make them sustainable. Often, parents or students take the lead only to have momentum die once the athletes graduate. OBRA (Oregon Bicycle Racing Association) is trying to help the schools have a more sustainable program, specifically designed around cyclocross because of its lower cost to participate, ease of staging events, confluent schedule and growing worldwide popularity. We all hope cyclocross will be the introduction to cycling and bike racing that opens the door for other types of racing.
The OBRA program would be score the following age groups: 10-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18.
I am personally involved with helping establish the OBRA Junior Cyclocross program in Bend because I know it will be good for our community. I am designing our Bend Endurance Academy programs to parallel and take advantage of the high school program, but let me be clear, the Academy will not administer the program or compete with it for riders. Riders can choose to be high school, Academy or both.
The Academy will offer resources to the schools and we can help coordinate coaches education and events. The Academy programs are not designed to pull the best riders away from the high schools, they are designed to provide a long-term approach to cycling and training that encourages cycling before and after high school.
COCC Club Cycling
We’re working with Bill Douglass at COCC to integrate our Nordic and Cyclocross programs with their Club Sports. With the trails at COCC there is good potential for training and racing on campus so we’re excited to be working toward supporting their club sports.
The Overall Goal
As I see it, Bend has lots of cyclists and we all tend to do our own rides and not pay attention to the bigger picture. As cycling director, I’m invested in looking at the big picture and finding ways to bring groups together so we can all have more resources, share adventures and eventually have all types of cycling represented in our community as a cohesive voice. We all want safer routes to school, better roads, more diverse trails, easy access, fun events and world-class races, so let’s work together to make this our reality.
Other Community Partners
Cog Wild Bicycle Tours – we partner with them to run our Mighty Bikes Program. They have a talented group of guides that we use to help staff our programs and we share resources like transportation and loaner bikes.
Commute Options – we will work together to provide fun events for kids that help them learn new skills. We have already collaborated on a bike rodeo that was very successful.
OBRA – we have received grant money from OBRA in the past to help establish our program and purchase loaner bikes. Our missions overlap in several areas and we’re working together on a regular basis.
Local Bike Shops – we do not have an official shop sponsor. We want our athletes and families to find a shop that fits their needs and makes them comfortable. That said, WebCyclery, Pine Mountain Sports and Sunnyside have been supporters of our program and we work together on a regular basis to provide discounts and fun events.
Stay Connected and Get Others Involved
Find us on Facebook for regular updates, photos from races and rides along and special offers!
I hope you’re summer is going well and please contact me if you have any questions.
Bend Endurance Academy