NW Dev Camp keeps growing
FOREST GROVE — In just the second year of its own development, the USA Cycling Northwest Athlete Development Camp in Forest Grove continues to grow while teaching others about the sport. Run by Team Oregon president and USA Cycling coach Jim Anderson, the six-day camp grew to 26 participants this year, up 11 from the 15 who attended the camp’s inaugural session last year. The number of girls at the camp also soared from one to five. The average age at the camp was 16, with several 14-year-olds and one 21-year-old. Anderson said the camp is close to reaching its maximum goal of 30 riders.
“We were hoping for something in the twenties this year,” Anderson said. “So 26 is good. It will probably max out at 30, because there’s a lot to manage. It allows us to give a lot of individual attention to each rider, If it gets too big, it’s too much.”
In a striking change from last year, only one of the riders at this year’s camp, which took place Aug. 1-6 at Pacific University, was from Oregon. Bend’s Cole Sprague attended the camp, along with OBRA’s Colby Wait-Molyneaux of Vancouver, but the rest of the campers traveled from California, Washington, Idaho and Nevada to attend. Campers stayed in a university dorm, ate at the cafeteria and used the classroom facilities. The riding took place on some great roads in and around the Forest grove area.
The kids weren’t the only attendees traveling to the camp. For the second consecutive year, Anderson brought in Michael Heitz, a Colorado-based coach who has contracted with USAC since 1998 to manage and coach at junior development road camps. Heitz joined Anderson, cycling hall-of-famer Butch Martin (CMG Racing) and longtime Beaverton Bicycle Club coach Phil Sanders — among a host of others — in guiding the students through the camp’s drills, skills and classroom sessions.
Heitz has extensive coaching experience in the USA Cycling program, for which he is currently developing a skills curriculum. Heitz has directed and coached two junior trade teams, the Community Olympic Development Program and the Rocky Mountain Cycling Education Foundation, with tremendous success. Anderson has been involved with the USAC for several years, first attending a seminar on the Athlete development camps and then traveling to Europe twice with the junior national team this spring.
“Those two trips really kind of helped me see the whole picture,” he said. “From the local results to the camp to the national development team, and then the next step is racing pro-am sort of thing.”
On-the-bike sessions included drills designed to check and enhance bike-handling and group-riding skills. There were several road rides that covered lesson on how to be good users of the road, including learning to point out hazards, ride in traffic, etc. Nightly post-dinner presentations included lessons on using power data to train, nutrition,weight training bike fitting, anti-doping, time trialing, motivation and inspiration. There were also opportunities for free time and socializing, including a trip to the Forest Grove farmers’ market.
Beyond teaching riders new skills and passing along more knowledge, the camp provides a chance for the coaches to assess talent, skills and potential, and recommend riders for regional and national camps in the USAC pipeline. Two field tests helped coaches determine individual riders’ development levels. Riders were timed in five-minute and 20-minute trials.
“Some were only racing for like six months,” Anderson said of the campers. “Some of them had been racing for a year or a couple of years, and some of them had been racing since they were 13. So it’s a wide, wide range. And you can really tell. Two or three of the guys will be going to the national camp in October. There are about 55 or so at that camp, and they are covering advanced stuff. It’s the next step up.”
Anderson is also stepping up to put on the camp again next year, which will be its third. He said although producing a quality experience for the campers is a lot of work, the rewards come in seeing their skills and confidence develop in just six days.
“Even some of the ladies that hadn’t been racing very long, when we went over the skills, by the end of the camp they were riding up front much more comfortably and with a lot more confidence,” he said. “It was six days, and it was a full, full day each day.”