Beginners Guide to Bike Racing, Part III – for Parents of Juniors

ksenia and momThis is a 3-part series featuring Lance Panigutti of Without Limits Productions, Dana Willett of 303 Media, and Ainslie Maceachran of Gemini Coaching.

Every spring and summer many of us have the same internal conversation with ourselves, “I’d love to get into bike racing, but I don’t know where to start.” You’re a casual bike rider, maybe did a few races in another part of the country and want to get back into the scene, or have been a mountain biker your whole life and want to try something new. So where do you start answering the list of potential questions in this mysterious racing world?

Ainslie Maceachran: Advice for parents of juniors looking to start racing on the road

– Keep it fun.
Over the years I’ve seen lots of promising young talent come and go from the sport because their parents were a little TOO involved. Let your child dictate the level of involvement they’d like to have.

– Participate in your local grass roots cycling.
In Ft Collins, we have a local organization that puts on mid-week, fun, low key events where kids race for free. They range from a criterium to time trials to short track mtb racing. These are not only fun but they help your child to meet like minded peers. They also, quite often, help locate resources such as equipment, rides to events, coaching etc.

– Don’t buy new.
It IS nice to have the latest equipment but, because your child is growing rapidly and their interest could change, talk to your local bike shop about used equipment. Get them something that will do the job but you don’t have to take a 2nd mortgage on your house to afford. It should however be a quality piece of equipment. Avoid department store bikes at all turns.

– Get involved.
Try to volunteer where you can. Become a mentor or coach. Help organize events. Your interest in their sport will demonstrate to them that you support their efforts.

Read more tips for Parents in The Junior Athlete Triangle, which features accomplished cyclist/coach Ann Trombley, then moves on to the athlete’s mother (Marina Lepikhina), and ends with athlete Ksenia Lepikhina herself. This valuable article discusses finding a juniors-specific coach, your role as a parent, and goal-setting.

[303 Cycling:] How do you manage the ever-present “coaching triangle” between Jr. racers, parents and yourself?
Ann Trombley: I think it is very important to communicate with both the junior and their parents. I have open communication between parents and junior athletes through phone, email and in-person meetings. The first meeting is a good way to connect with parents and athletes. After the first meeting it really depends on the age and maturity of the athlete. I expect the athlete to be responsible for performing their scheduled rides and communicating with me. However, they are just kids! The parents need to be behind what the juniors are doing. Parents also have insights about nutrition, school and other issues the athlete may have that are important to their training and racing. Parents are a crucial part of the athletes development and I like to keep them in the loop as much as possible. For any athlete to do well it is important to have a good support system. For Juniors that is often parents and family.

Also see:
Beginner Bike Series Part I – Getting Started
Beginner Bike Series Part II – For Women

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