Friday, March 29, 2013

Coach 'R' Me - Team in Progress

Things a bit slow on the ol' blog front, been swamped at work and home.  So, life itself not exactly slow.  Actually a bit of overload, this earning a paycheck shtick a bit overrated.  I'll be your tour guide - please keep running on the treadmill - you'll eventually catch the carrot.

On a more enjoyable front...

My student league mountain bike team has ramped into full on operational mode.  Practice rides twice a week, with a few now in the books, all with good attendance. Quite the gaggle of junior high boys, as only teenage old boys can be.  Fun stuff.  Team continues to grow, now up to 14 kids - amazing.  Most of this via emails I've sent and word of mouth.  If we actually approached local schools and advertised a bit, think we'd be swamped and short on adults in no time.  There's definitely a demand for this type of program and/or people have no idea, then think it's a cool idea when discovered.

No way I could do this myself.  Local woman racer Marne acting as assistant coach, along with her husband Shawn.  I've also recruited some old school riding pals to the mix, including Tom - with his grandson now joining the team - fantastic.  We also partner with the high school team, and share adult resources.  One day a week, we have combo practice with the high school gang.  Big group ride for the first half, then let the fast high school kids loose for the second half.  Great seeing all these kids ride together.

Dragged out the little point 'n' shoot camera for one practice, complete with blurry photos as proof.  I'll eventually figure out how to carry the Nikon D7000, take pictures, coach, and ride all at once. Or maybe not...

I've discovered most 13-14 year boys attention span for pre-ride yapping by adults, to be about 30 seconds.  I've since included riding instruction mid-ride, which seems to work better.  Here we session some log roll overs, Tom providing guidance, while Zane gives it a go. 

My son Ian, who's ridden these trails a zillion times over the years, naps while hitting familiar logs.  With all his previous riding and racing experience, I let him lead some of the rides - a good experience for him.  And to not play favorites, also have other students lead.  Some of the kids seem timid to do so, others jump right in front.  Different personalities and riding experience at play.

All the kids ride really well and we put in a solid two hour ride, with stops for instruction and to regroup.  Now that I'm familiar with their individual riding skill and abilities, we let the faster kids jump ahead a bit and wait at the next trail intersection.  We'll also instruct and spot some of the less experience riders on technical sections.

One student walked the log section pictured above for a few practices, not quite ready for it.  No problem.  On the last practice ride, he didn't stop and rolled right over it.  I was leading and could hear him yell, "That's the first time I did that!"  Awesome.  Mixed in with this, some of the kids can preload and jump the logs already.  Need to keep both sides balanced and entertained.  A learning experience for me as well.

Tom giving some body positioning on the bike advice; Jack giving it a go, while teammates look on.  Tom also leads beginner mountain bike rides for the Evergreen Alliance.  Pretty cool to have him involved with the team, and a good lesson on how to spend your "retirement" years. 

So far, a few weeks into the program - seems to be going okay.  The kids appear to enjoy it, I'm learning plenty, and super appreciate the other adults involved - I'm super lucky to have 'em assist.  On the agenda, team pizza night at local bike shop, and first league race of the season. Yowza.

Much more hastily written posts and blurry photos to follow.  Stay tuned...


  1. Glad to see the student team developing. Might want to do a post after this season on what you learned from all of this.

    That might get some more adults thinking about coaching a student team at their kids school

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