For this article I will focus on training youth and junior riders from the ages of 14-16 years.
When young riders start riding the first key area of development and concern is their bike handling skills and road confidence.
With increasing levels of traffic on roads it is important to:
Conrol of the bike is critical in every aspect of cycling. If you cycle down country lanes with others it is important to stay on the right side of the road and not collide with any other cyclists you are traveling with. This will be a challenge in the first instance and if you are with a club it will prove to be an energy sapping exercise if you have to keep closing gaps. On these runs you will also internalise the concept of slipstreaming or as some people call it "drafting". This is an important skill when nit comes to racing so the sooner it is understood the better. In the first instance it is likely that there will be a parent on the run. If that is the case they will probably not be able to keep pace with the level of improvement of the youth rider and will eventually get dropped behind!!! A club is a great place to develop control and basic fitness.
Traffic on the road is somethin that is a fact of life. Bikes are statistically very safe but the aim is to adopt an approach that is both safe and sustainable. I had some risky episodes with my son who had a habit of running wide on bends when he became tired. This was something that had to be addressed and was addressed.
Confidence when riding on the same roads as cars and trucks is also important. 99.9% of drivers do not want to deal with the consequences of any collision and will take care. It is also up to the cyclist to take care by not attempting to squeeze between trucks at junctions. In London there have been a number of fatal incidents where cyclists have ignored this advice.
Assuming that control and road sense are Ok then you can focus on getting fit.
It is important that it is the decision of the rider to train and if they are tired or under the weather it is probably better to not go out.
I will break the year down into3 parts
November is when the days are shortening and the weather is deteriorating. It is a time when some cycling outside is possible but other approaches should be considered. Turbo Trainers have become widely used in recent years and provide a safe environment (but rather boring) to improve your fitness. Spinning classes can supplement this and I currently participate in one that is aimed at cyclists and there are videos of cycle races playing at the front of the class. These are part of a series of cycle training videos called "thesufferfest". It is also a time to build core strength by doing other sports. Cross Country running organised by local clubs is a safer option than cycling to do on the dark evenings.. There will also be an opportunity to enter some local cross country Weekends will provide an opportunity to get out on a real bike
Concusion:- Lots of indoor training is important as well as involvement in other sports. Get out on the bike at least once over the weekend.
February to April is when the weather is fluctuating between being OK and being poor. So having started the Turbo sessions in November keep them going. Keep up your involvement in other sports and consider combining cycling and running. A focus is very important or there is no reason to get out and train. Duathlons might be a possibility so it is important to experience some competition. Competition is different to training. You might train really well but struggle with the competitive stresses. The more that you can be exposed to competition the easier it gets.
May to September:- the weather is improving and it is a pleasure to ride along in the sun. You can go out in the evenings as well as increasing distances at weekends. Opportunities to compete and ride will be presenting themselves and in the UK if you go to the web site of British Cycling there is a full calendar of events.
In the next part I will cover specific aspects of training
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