Q&A with Junior Racers
BY KIERSTIN KLOECKNER
Ask me about my days as a junior racer and you’ll get a mixed bag for a response. At that time, even though my coaches were extremely supportive, it was all work and very little play. And although we were trained to work as a “team,” come race day there was very little support for each other. It was more like a competition to see who could stand on the top podium step. It was this mentality which made me leave the race scene altogether at age 17.
I have written about newer junior development teams since then and have highlighted what makes them successful for the kids, parents and coaches. With that in mind, I wanted to delve a bit deeper into junior cyclocross racing specifically and talk about why it’s become such a draw and what the junior racers are thinking and feeling. Attending so many cross races myself, to cheer on teammates and friends, one team stood out event after event in how it should be done (for the junior’s sake). Welcome to the world of Revolution Cycles Cycling Team whose statement is being committed to fostering an inclusive cycling community and welcoming all abilities and skill levels. This team is heavily supported by amazing coaches (some of which are parents of the juniors racing) as well as Revolution Cycles bike shop. They come in with an “everyone is welcome” attitude…and that goes for folks on different teams as well.
Go to any cross race in Wisconsin and you’ll see them there. Their tent, kits and attitude stand out in the best of ways. If you’re looking for the cookie cutter racers, move along. But if you move along, be aware you might be very surprised when one of their racers come flying by you. Both the adults and juniors on this team are in it for the love of the sport…and it shows. At many races, you’ll find me cheering for the Rev team as much as I do for the team I’m a part of. At the podium announcements, you’ll find a group from all different teams cheering the Rev juniors on since they are usually found in the top three spots. Everyone seems to like these kids, and for a good reason…they come to work hard, but with extremely positive attitudes. Instead of asking the coaches questions, I wanted to go right to the source and ask two of the juniors some questions to give their perspective. Meet Lyllie (age 12) and Finn (age 9).
Q: What got you interested in racing/riding cyclocross?
Lyllie: I went to a CX National Championship when I was young but I never really knew about cyclocross until some of the people in my neighborhood said I should try it out.
Finn: Chasing after my sister (who is Lyllie)!
Q: What is one of your favorite memories while racing or training?
L: One of my favorite memories was at a practice with my friend when it was my first time back on the bike after I injured myself in the summer. It was really fun to ride after sitting around for a while.
F: Winning Trek Cup and when I heard that more of my friends were racing.
Q: Do you clean your on bikes after events/practice?
L: Usually my dad cleans my bike after races and practice but sometimes I help clean or repair it. I did get to spend time with an awesome person building my bike over last summer though!
F: No, my dad usually cleans it but I sometimes help do some spraying and scrubbing.
Q: What’s your favorite post race food?
L: Probably a milkshake, but I wait a little bit after my race to drink it!
F: Belgian waffles and cliff bars.
Q: Is there a song that goes through your head while training or racing?
L: No, I don’t think about much while racing except for what is going on in the race.
F: There isn’t a specific song but the songs that usually pop up just make me feel fast.
Q: What are your hopes for the upcoming year with cyclocross?
L: Some hopes I have for the 2020 season are to work on my endurance and to possibly podium at the Cyclocross Championships in Chicago.
F: To do well in the 11/12 category, get faster and HAVE FUN!
To many seasoned older racers, these answers may seem extremely simple and to the point. But isn’t that what it’s all about? Don’t we often, as adults, clutter our minds too much and forget the simple pleasures of why we began playing on two wheels in the first place? I commend both Lyllie and Finn for having the courage to make their way to the starting line and give it their all week after week, and I equally commend their parents and coaches for keeping it fun so the spark stays lit. Because after all, what good is getting kids into a sport if they are going to get burnt out and not want to continue with it into their adult years?