Axel Merckx Youth Series – Youth Clinic

Lesson #1:  Never, never, answer the phone when Caller ID says it’s Lister Farrar and it’s the Wednesday before a big event.

Especially when it’s a big event that takes place over a weekend that your kids are out of town and all you really had in mind was a campsite at Englishman River Falls, a good book, and a cooler full of delicious beverages.

But I’m glad I helped out.  Tripleshot and the Axel Merckx Youth Development Foundation hosted a weekend of clinics and racing for young cyclists and it was great to see the kids grow over the three days.  The first day was at Western Speedway.  (“Heh, heh, heh.  Were they learning hit-to-pass racing?” –more wiseacres than I care to count)

I couldn’t quite get past the cognitive dissonance that goes with skinny kids in Lycra zipping past billboards for the Luv Shak and Bob’s Lube Shop, but the track is a super place to learn racing skills.  Lister wouldn’t let me run the big stoplight on the start line, though.  🙁

The kids got to learn about cornering and bunch riding skills through the afternoon and then applied them to a 3k time trial.  The TT was not, as I expected, around the big track.  Instead, the organizing team set up what amounted to a cyclocross course on pavement.  It even wound out onto the parking lot and back, with lots of switchbacks.  This kept the kids on their toes.  I got to learn about CyclingBC’s one-day license rules, how to keep a straight face while telling parents that they needed to sign these three release forms, and learning how to produce start lists and results for the TT on the fly.  I also got to put on my Mom Voice when the kids went over to Thetis Lake Park for a dip and a picnic.  The Glare of Doom accompanied the Voice when I explained to the youth that jumping off the cliffs while they were on my watch and the club’s insurance policy was Right Out, so Siddown and Eat your Vegetables.  They mostly did.

Why does this not work on my own children?

Did a bunch of shopping for various picnic meals.  “Um.  Lister.  How many people for lunch?”  “What?!”  (sigh)  Took another volunteer and made the fastest run ever through Costco.  “She shops like a man,” said my partner.  I think that was a compliment.

Saturday morning, I went and rode my bike while the kids learned track cycling skills at the velodrome.  That afternoon, I pottered around the house so I could be at the track at five to start setting up for the evening racing.  At 3:50, the phone.  Lister.  “Hey, we were thinking of starting the racing at five, can you be here (half an hour away under the best possible circumstances) in ten minutes?”

Broke no really important laws, got there relatively quickly and learned about a new discipline I think I could market, called “Agile Recordkeeping.”  Because the race schedule was, um, fluid.  “Say, Bruce.  What kind of race should we run next?”  “I dunno.  What do you want to do?”  I found myself saying things like, “Hey, boys, does this race record times or place?” And the kids made it even more exciting by doing things like reseeding themselves into different racing groups as the spirit moved them.

I lurve Excel, except for a new feature I discovered, which is that it hacks fractions of a second off times that go into pivot tables under certain circumstances.  We were able to get records and results out in pretty good time, although I don’t think my printer has recovered from having race officials pulling new start sheets from it as it printed.

Sunday was street racing in the drizzle at Windsor Park, and was much the same kind of amiable chaos.

But the kids!  A bunch of learning sponges!  A bunch of sharks on wheels!  I didn’t know a 10-year-old could go that fast!  So, although I feel kind of silly for spending a weekend volunteering at a kids’ clinic my kids weren’t at, my real takeaway is that I wish they’d been able to take it all in.  The coaches and the organizers working with the kids made it all look so easy and the Axel Merckx Foundation was generous with time, prizes, and support.

Still.  Think twice if Lister calls and you had other plans.  🙂