A Stellar Beginner Program For New Racers Makes Michigan Racing Better
June 19th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors
By Collin Snyder, Team OAM Now Cyclist
We recently wrapped up the newly instated Beginner Racing Program or BRP for Michigan racers. The BRP was modeled off a program started in Northern California nearly 30 years ago in order to teach new racers the basics of racing in a safer, non-racing environment. The program is a 5-week course focusing on the following topics:
Basic pack skills – Protecting your front wheel
Cornering – Choosing and holding your line
Pack Awareness Skills
Bringing it all together
The goal of this program is to help grow cycling by allowing young riders to ask questions and learn the basics without having to suffer the sometimes painful consequences of learning from mistakes made during races. Instilling the basics leads to not only a safer peloton for all, but it also leads to racers having fun and returning, race after race.
The clinic was lead by Ann Arbor Velo Club’s Lucas Wall and featured two of Team OAM Now/Athletic Mentors riders, Terry Ritter and Collin Snyder. Attendance was great and featured riders of all ages, from 12 to over 60, all with the same goal, learning to ride safer. After over an hour of skill drills and Q&A sessions, a short 10-lap practice race was held to put those new skills to the test.
I started racing eight years ago, with virtually no one to guide me. I learned what I could from reading online, watching the faster guys, and finally through trial and error. Naturally, my form was less than perfect. On the left is a picture of me from my first crit during the Tour of Kensington in 2007. I hung with the pack for about half the race, only to blow up. In that race, there was one crash, plenty of choppy corners, squirrelly moves, and brake lock-ups. One thing I remember was how terrifying it was to go through a corner, at speed, with 25 other guys within an arm’s reach. Notice my bad form while sprinting in the photo here. These are the very things the BRP is designed to help new racers understand.
Cornering was pretty much the concern of every racer who showed up. Those who felt they were okay in a straight line still felt nervous taking any corner at speed. They would have to slow way down in each corner, causing a huge gap to form. Every corner, they would have to exert a 100% effort sprint to catch up. It was only a matter of time until we could hear a loud audible “POP!” coming from their legs, well before the finish. One thing I focused on with them was the proper position on the bike while handling corners (demonstrated perfectly by Team OAM Now’s very own Dan Yankus in the picture below).