Top juniors gathered June 26-30 at UC Santa Cruz for USA Cycling's annual West Coast Junior MTB Development Camp. Based on their strong performance during the season, fifteen boys and three girls from the western United States were invited to a camp staffed by coaches from the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League, including Austin McInerny (Berkeley High School Coach), Matt Fritzinger (NorCal League Director), Nadine Budbill (NorCal League Board of Directors), and Steve Smith (Santa Cruz Bicycles).
The riders were challenged daily with assorted time trials, cross county racing, endurance rides, and race mechanical simulations. An overall placement similar to a stage race format was implemented to rank the riders. This scoring was designed to assess ability and experience which would then help determine selection to the endurance camp at the Olympic Training Center in August.
To supplement the time spent on the bike the campers attended lectures and demonstrations on various race and health related topics. The guest speakers included Emma Worldpeace (UC Berkeley) who spoke on the rigors of collegiate racing; Michael Smartt (Whole Athlete) provided guidance on proper bike fit and periodization training; Al Painter (Los Altos Training Studio) led a course on core body strengthening; and Lisa Goddard (Clif Bar) oversaw a yoga and cycling-specific stretching routine. In addition, campers were thrilled to be joined by pro rider Barry Wicks (Team Kona) for the 9 mile time trial event and a lecture on the reality of racing professionally. Lastly, campers were treated to a tour of the Giro/Bell helmet testing facility and of the Santa Cruz Bicycles factory.
The riders, who come from California, Arizona, Colorado, and Washington, rode strong all week and gained valuable insight in the challenges of elite level racing. One rider commented, "The camp has made my goals more specific. Before camp, I didn't know where I could go in mountain biking, but now I have an idea and am going to work towards that."
For more information about USA Cycling's junior development camps, visit their Web site at www.usacycling.org. For more information about the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League, go to www.norcalmtb.org.