Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why be a Mentor at the Airport Criteriums???

So, every Tuesday night or so - and sometimes on the weekends - we have a little criterium training ride/race around a course at the Chico Airport. No big whoop - just a few riders gettin' together to ramp it up a bit and test the legs......and the lungs! There's an "A" Category for those fast folks.......and a "B" Category for the ones who are fast, but not quite as fast as those "A" riders. Recently, a "C" Category was added to teach newer folks how to ride the Criteriums - and how to be comfortable going through corners, riding with others and so on. The Category "C" race starts up immediately after the Cat. A & B races finish. We're lucky in that enough "A" riders and solid "B" riders volunteer to help mentor these Category "C" riders during their "C" race at the Airport Criterium........to teach them the ins and outs of Criteriums. And I - for one - am extremely thankful for these riders for doing this awesome task. Thank you ALL for helping to mentor - you don't realize how much I appreciate your help!!!!

Why mentor?? Well, there are multiple reasons......but here are a few:

First off, it's great for those riders who just finished their race to spin the legs out in the C race - and get some more miles in. Next, when you teach a subject, you tend to become an expert on it yourself........you are constantly reinforcing in yourself what you are teaching......and you, as a mentor, are also learning. Also, it's fun!!! The "C" race is probably the funnest race of the day - there are all sorts of riders out there........kids from age 8 to age 15......men and women who have never raced before, and who are TOTALLY new to Criteriums.......and low-key riders who just want to have fun out there!! How cool is that???!! 30 minutes PLUS 3 laps - short but sweet.

But......here's another reason: The future of our great sport.

When I was a youngster - age 12 or so - I also did the Airport Criteriums here in Chico. I, myself, was lucky enough to have mentors helping me along with my riding and racing. People like David Welch, Jimmy Walker, Jeff Smith, Tom Devol, Ed McLaughlin, Grant Boswell, Mark Barr, Hollis Elliot, Mike Jamison, Mike Callahan, Serge Killingsworth, Mike Darrow, John Duerloo, Dean Hampton and many many others. They taught me about riding, racing, holding my line, training......all things cycling. And, although, I was never a pro rider and I didn't race the Tour de France or anything along those lines......I still fell in love with cycling.......and am still in love with it.

All these years later - 29 years to be exact - the local folks here in Chico are living the effects of those mentors who helped me. This year, R.A.C.E. will have put on 200+ local races. I work for Chico Velo in putting on the Wildflower Century and their other rides, am on the Board of Directors for Chico Corsa, and am a member of Team Chico and the Butte Bicycle Coalition. The sole purpose of all this - to promote local cycling!

So, with that in mind, I would encourage all those interested to mentor at a Category "C" race out at those little Airport Criteriums - or to help out other riders and the younger riders. Encourage them - help them along - do what you can to assist, if possible. We are experiencing a great growth in cycling here in the Chico area - let's keep the momentum going for years and years to come.

Thanks for listening - now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.