History Steeped in Tradition and Success
BRAC has always focused much of our efforts on junior development, and it is a proud history that we like to brag about. You don't hear monikers like "Wednesday Night Worlds" for nothing. Every ride and race in Colorado looks like a World Championship due to the number of professional athletes that reside here. Many of them got their start in local races and camps. Some started as young as 6 by going to junior camps. Multiple World Champion Taylor Phinney got his start in Colorado races, but he is certainly not the only one. Just recently Colorado boasted having one-third of the riders on the CX worlds team, and we had three riders in the top 30 in the junior men category. Colorado's Gage Hecht was the top placing American.
The goal of our Junior Development Program is to encourage and support young bicycle racers in Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. We are committed to helping young riders develop the skills, strength, healthy habits, and confidence to take part in a fantastic, lifelong sport.
Riding a bike consistently will improve your fitness and skills. There are many choices of bike types: MTB, road, track, bmx, and cyclo-cross (CX). They all play a role in your fitness and skill development. The BRAC approach is to get kids on CX bikes, basically due to the versatility of a CX bike. A quick tire or wheel change provides access to either road or dirt riding. Be sure to check for junior gear restrictions for road racing. There is a website that can help dial in your gear selection. See http://www.lifeonthebike.com
BRAC recently formed an ad hoc committee to help advise on junior development issues. There are so many options for how to support this important class of athlete and we are engaging the experts for advice. At the beginning of 2016 we are deciding how to allocate financial and personnel resources, which include but are not limited to: supporting existing junior camps, running new camps in multiple disciplines, providing travel support for riders going to high-level events, bicycle programs for beginners, community outreach for important youth-centered programs such as Impact 360, and direct support of events that cater to juniors.
BRAC is fortunate to have a lot of sponsors who are passionate about junior cycling. This has allowed us to maintain a junior development fund that we can use to promote junior development. Some of these sponsors have been title sponsors of our junior programs. Others preferred to stay in the background and donate annonymously. There are always opportunities for donors and sponsors to support juniors in traditional or unique ways. If you are interested in donating goods, services, or just your time, please contact the BRAC Executive Director.
JUNIOR Travel Grants
BRAC recently re-established a program for travel grants for juniors and U23 riders. There are two types -- Merit-based and Financial Need-based.The merit based grants are set at $250 for riders selected by USA Cycling to go to advanced development clinics and camps, and $500 for travel to World Championships or other important international events when the rider is selected by USA Cycling. The financial need-based grants are similar but also include an element of financial need on the part of the rider and the rider's family. Qualifying for such a grant also includes a component of community service to the BRAC community for the recipient as well as a component of support by the rider's family and team. To apply for either of these types of grants, and to learn more, click on the links below:
By Michael Dessau
BRAC has been instrumental in my development as a top junior cyclist; also instrumental has been their gear restrictions. While it may sound counterintuitive to limit juniors, junior gears provide many benefits to developing bodies, and to developing racers. First of all, they develop how to win. Not many people will be able to win races from a sprint their whole career, so it is important to learn to win off the front. By making it more difficult to win a sprint, junior gears encourage aggressive racing, which is the best way to get noticed and taken to the next level. Additionally, they teach riders to spin, which is a necessary skill for all great bike racers. Finally, gear restrictions are enforced severely in Europe, which is the ultimate bastion of the bike racer, and where top juniors will eventually end up. It?s important to learn to ride junior gears in the US to make it on the national and international levels. Plus, it?s easier to run a semi-compact 52-36 front chain ring combination. And junior gears will never restrict you from winning a race. I?ve won pro, 1, 2 races on junior gears, and averaged above 30 mph in a time trial.
Results to back up claims: Steamboat springs criterium, 3 National championship time trial wins, top ten in the world championships.
Joining a club is one of the most important steps in having fun as a bicycle racer. Talk with your friends, visit your local bicycle shop, and see our list of clubs that work with juniors. We have many great clubs - find one that works for you! The price of a BRAC Annual Membership for juniors is just $15.
To see what clubs are currently accepting juniors, see our club contact list.
"My fondest memories as a junior cyclist are from BRAC junior races and camps. I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am without the organization's attention and care. It was, and always will be, an organization structured and run like a caring family. BRAC not only taught me how to be a top notch bike racer but helped provide me with an environment where I can simply enjoy riding and racing my bike." Alex Howes, Team Garmin-Sharp