Team Update

Time for a little update on the High School MTB Team.

Someone once said (and someday if I meet this person I will have words with them): “If it was easy everyone would do it.”

It’s not been easy to get this thing off the ground. Our main challenges have been: Being a rookie team, the weather and the schedule.

The weather has continued to be a challenge. The world appears to be conspiring against us.

When I started this little adventure of creating a high school mtb team we had about 12 kids who were interested. Then the winter continued. And continued. And continued. Our trails were finally open two weeks ago. And by the time we got a chance to ride, well we had two kids who came out to actually ride. That’s a little disappointing. Last week we were joined by a third kid. So I have three who have been out to ride with us. Today, our regular ride day, is a total wash out. Sigh. We are riding on Saturday and the weather should be OK. We are going to some great flowing trails that were put in last year. They should be  a lot of fun. If only the kids would come out!

Officially we are racing in the NY State NICA League. Someone in the national NICA office decided that the NY League should be a spring league. Meaning we race in the spring.  The teams in that league are mostly based on southern NY, near NY City. And while a spring season is a challenge for them, they have been riding since mid March and racing for a month. Realistically for us in Potsdam that means that we have very little to no time to be outside before the racing season starts. And this year we have been riding for 2 weeks (2 weeks after the racing season started). In the first year of forming a team that’s been a huge challenge. I am not willing to take kids to a race before I have even seen them on a bike. I don’t think that is a recipe for having fun, or for being safe. The one race I think we would be ready for is the state championship race in June. But the catch there is that you need to qualify by racing in the majority of the regular season races. So that’s a challenge. I have appealed to the mercy of the league director to let me bring some kids down regardless. But I haven’t heard back.

So my focus is really just on getting a core group of kids together to ride. If we can race, so be it. If not, well we will figure something out.

Being action oriented, here is what I am trying to line up. Last year the Clarkson bike club hosted a MTB race weekend for the collegiate cycling association. I race in it. I know the kids in the collegiate club and have started to work with them to have a scholastic division included in the race. The student who is organizing the event is supportive (and since he works at the LBS that is supporting the HS team and is a student at the university I teach at, well we have leverage 😉 ). I think we will be able to get that one in. I sure hope so.

On a brighter note, we have jersey’s! See…

DOBO-11174-Fondo-1-APP2

The design is fantastic. And we are in the process of ordering them. I want to get these made even though it is likely there will be more adults who have them then kids. We need the visibility and excitement that they provide.

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Saturday was my birthday. I turned 45. I am middle aged. (I mean seriously, I am half way to my next racing division after all. 😉 ) And you know what? It doesn’t bother me.

I had a great weekend with my family and friends. I got to eat some totally scrumptious homemade salted caramel chocolate cake. I got to ride bike bike a little bit. I got to have dinner with my super awesome wife.

I am looking forward to the next 45 years.

Spending time with my family

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My friends

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doug and jenny

Biking

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Biking with my friends!

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Sliding

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doug at nationals

Racing

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And Coaching kids.

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Yeah, it was a good day.

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Staying Positive

Well it’s been a lame week on my end blog wise. Sorry. I have been in B-spline hell courtesy of the luge project I am working on. But I think I emerged from there this morning.

As I have whined about, the spring has been late in coming up here in the North Country. One serious consequence of that is that the high school mtb team organization is way behind where I had thought we would be at this point. You see kids who are interested in riding and racing mtb’s don’t want to go to meetings, they want to actually ride their bikes. Go figure.

The New York League of NICA was supposed to have their first race last weekend (cancelled due to rain). We still had over a foot of snow on the ground up here and had yet to actually get on our bikes. So as of right now I don’t know how many kids will ultimately be doing this or what kind of riders they are. I know I have some complete newbies interested. And that’s great but its also hard to assess where they are at and if they can participate in a race at this point.

The weather finally broke and we have been melting snow like mad. But we are still probably 2 weeks away from having any ridable trails around here. The weather looked good this week so I called the first practice to do some drills. I figured it would be fun to meet, do some biking and practice some biking skills.

It was me, my son, another kid (who is a good rider) and the other 3 adults who are helping. A student to faculty ratio of 0.5. In all fairness I heard back from one young lady (the really new person) that she was going to be in CA on vacation (spring break next week for the schools). And two others had conflicts. Still it was somewhat disappointing.

We all had fun. Snow banks make great obstacles to bike over. And they provide the extra excitement of sometimes being soft, and sometimes being hard. You never know if you are going over or through 🙂

I expect that in two weeks when the kids come back from spring break we will have ridable trails. We should be able to get out then and have some fun. I am trusting that it will pick up once we can do that.

So we are still behind. There is a race this weekend and then one on the 27th. The race on the 27th was the one I had wanted to go to. It’s the closest to us. But I am not comfortable taking kids to a race who I don’t know skill wise and have not seen bike for myself.

On a brighter note. We do have a 1st pass at team jerseys.

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I am using Jakroo. They seem easy to work with so far. I will let you know how they turn out. Now if only I could get in touch with the kids to show them……

Uh oh……..

I woke up Sunday morning and found this in my email:

“Hello Doug,
Your Workouts for Sunday, March 23
#1: 2 min intervals
Type: Bike
Planned Duration: 1:30
Description: Warm up 20 minutes. During this warm up include 4 x 60 second accelerations to expected pace for your 2 minute efforts.
Then perform 4-6 x 2 minutes at Zone 5. If using power go specifically by 110-115% FTP. Use either a combination of HR and RPE(how you feel), or power, HR, and RPE. Very important you go by feel for these as your HR most likely will not reach it’s max in 2 minutes! If you don’t have power, try to pick a section of road or a short climb for these. Mark a point that you think you can hit every 2 minutes and equals a max effort for that time frame. Hit that point every time in 2 minutes and you are spot on!
If you have anything left after 6 of these, do one more maximal effort with whatever you have left. Today’s workout is a maximal day, so leave nothing left.
Take a full 4 minutes rest between these efforts. This is extremely important, so do your best to take the entire break.
After the intervals, spin easy zones 1-2 for the remainder of time.
Pre-Activity Comments: “

My first workout from Drew for the season. The email starts out nice enough, but when you look at it in detail its a nasty little thing. That’s OK bring it.

I am planning on doing a XC race in CT on April 13:  Hop Brook Dam. The timing is good from a family perspective as the kids have spring break. We can go to visit with our CT family and have an early Easter. It’s less appealing because of this:

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That’s the view out of my office window. Want to go snow shoeing?

While its officially spring, our cold winter is holding on hard. We still have over a foot of snow on the ground (with a little fresh stuff added to it last night). It’s supposed to get into the 40’s by the weekend and continue through next week. But it’s a definite possibility that the race on the 13th will be my first single track ride of the year. A race, on a new course, with rust. Eh, bring it.

 

The great make up

February. Lots of snow on the ground (with lots of ice underneath). Right now its raining, but it looks like we are going to get at least one more shot at the dreaded “Polar Vortex” before this is all done. Hardly time to think about summer mountain biking. It was a strange week. I was working on my luge sled for the final push of the season and got my MTB racing tires in the mail on the same day. (I cannot wait to mount those suckers on and go for a ride.)

But it was time. This week it was time to make up with Coach Drew.

So four months after the Drew and I broke up, we talked on the phone this week and got things going. Back together for another season of fun. Time to put the Sufferfest away and do some more focused training and work. Time to get skinny and hard for the summer! Time to finish prepping my sled for the club race and a shot at a 45 second run!

March is going to be fun 🙂

Game on.

They WILL come….

A couple of weeks ago I talked about starting a high school mtb team in my town. Well today the journey continued. Today I held a student interest meeting at the school.

I have been working with a couple of teachers at the school to advertise and drum up some interest. When I got to the school today the teachers assured me that they had interested students.

So here is the tale of the tape. 15 kids interested. 8 of them GIRLS! In fact the girls were so excited about this that they looked around the room, noticed the lack of boys (many of the boys had other sports practices, so it was actually mostly girls at the meeting) and commented that maybe there would ONLY be a girls team. Ha!

This is perfect. I had been hoping for 5-10 kids for the team the initial year. Typically you will get about half of the interested kids to actually participate. Lets see 15 divided by 2, carry the one……Holy crap…..That’s 7.5 kids! That’s EXACTLY 5-10 kids.

Yeah, I am pumped.

OK, now…sign up the team, get the kids to sign up, parents meeting, wilderness first aid, concussion training, club at the school, get volunteers, get sponsors, find some bikes for kids who don’t have one……I got this under control.

NICA Leadership Summit Pt.2

Last week I wrote about my personal experience of learning to ride my mtb at the NICA Leadership summit. The purpose of the skills clinic was really much more involved. The leadership summit was put on to train people how to be mountain bike coaches for high school mountain bike teams.

NICA is an organization that started in California. It was started to give kids a chance to learn and compete in a sport that they might not otherwise get involved in. It is dedicated to developing healthy, athletic kids who might otherwise not be involved in sport. Kids who don’t fit into traditional scholastic sports. I wish that when I was the chubby unathletic kid that something like NICA existed. I would have been totally in.

Fast forward thirt…fort…(ish) years, to the point where I discovered my inner animal waiting to get out and you have a totally “in” grown-up who doesn’t realize he is a grown up. There is a place for me in NICA….. starting and coaching a high school mountain bike team.

I saw Single Track High for the first time in March.

A seed was planted in my mind. We have mountain bike trails. We have kids….. Humm.

On the Thursday before Leadville NICA did a showing of Single Track High. New York had just organized a league through NICA and had had its first racing season. I was pretty much finished at that point. Being a NICA coach combines two passions in my life: biking and teaching kids. And so I started down a road trail.

Now after the leadership summit, the mountain bike team is being organized. One LBS is totally in. The owner started a local mountain bike club, St. Lawrence Mountain Bike Association (SLMBA) a couple of years ago. It is ready to become something real (rather than a group of guys who ride and talk to each other twice a year). We are getting a president and incorporating as a not for profit. The group has made great progress in developing mtb trails in the area. Like I say its becoming real.

The new club president is excited about the prospect of a high school team and so we are going to fit that team under SLMBA (that allows us to take kids from surrounding schools, rather than just from the local school). The wife of the owner has agreed to become an assistant coach (Hi Shannon!) I want young ladies! Shannon is passionate about getting girls to ride. She is also one heck of a good rider. The local school principal is totally in and will support us through the school. I have a high school teacher, and fellow mountain bike “nut” (technically he is a “nut” and I am “stupid”), on the line. Hoping to reel him in. He is helping me to organize a meeting for kids, and to identify some target kids.

We are going to have an after school meeting in a couple of weeks. Then a parents meeting shortly after. I have permission to show Single Track High, which I will do then. Then I have to register me as a coach, the team as a team, get CPR WFA certification, take my coaches test…….

Right now I am in this funny space. Will there be any kids who want to do this? Will there be too many kids who want to do this? I would be really really happy to have something like 5 kids for the first year and build from there. My nightmare is 0 kids or 50 kids. 5. 5 is the perfect number to start with and grow from.

If I look at the list of people I have sucked into this we all have some things in common. We love riding (duh). We are also extremely busy, involved people. God I hope this works……. (It’ll be fine Doug. Have faith…….Thanks Yeti, that’s the nicest thing you have ever said to me…..Don’t get used to it Meat. You still have ORAMM to look forward to……Buzzkill).

Picture of the Day

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“Coaches”