This past week Greenville had a sudden influx of cyclists. Riding smoothly two by two and followed by a van your first guess might have been that it was a pro team getting in miles. Actually you just spotted America’s next group of up and coming racers. In Greenville for six-days was the USA Cycling Development camp. Thirty-three riders from across the southeast attended the camp located on the beautiful Furman University campus. Carolina Cycling News was lucky enough to tag along with these young riders as they got in some easy miles after the punishing Caesars Head time trial they had completed the day before and talk to the man behind the camp, Richard Dunn.
Furman has been hosting the development camp for 11 years and the reason being that the university is very accommodating and the Greenville area offers a lot for cyclists.
“The Greenville community is so aware of cycling so we have very little problems out on the road,” explains Richard Dunn. “Everyone is aware of what we are doing. And of course due to the popularity of the Hincapies, pros in the area like Craig Lewis and US Pro Championships located here makes Greenville a good fit. Also where Furman is located in North Greenville, there are plenty of good roads to train on.”
In those six days the riders have a full agenda. Typically the day starts off with a breakfast at the Furman cafeteria followed by the ride of the day. That could mean power profile testing on Caesars Head (which USA Cycling looks at to determine eligibility to attend a national camp), an easy spin day and more field testing – specifically short time trials. After the ride there’s lunch and it’s back on the bike for a skills and drills workshop focusing on riding a straight line riding, cornering, water bottle passes and bumping. In the evening there is a lecture ranging from training techniques to a guest speaker such as Chuck Hodge (race technical director for such events as US Pro Championships) who came in to discuss officiating and what to expect as a competitive cyclist at the larger UCI events.
For those who want to attend the development camp a rider must qualify through the Lance Armstrong junior race series (LAJRS). If there are no LAJRS events in their area a resume can be sent which will be evaluated by Coach Dunn. After that there is a nominal fee to cover costs. However, if a rider is interested in future camps apply as soon as possible as there is a cap of 35 and that is quickly filled.
“We feel that is the limit that we can give attention to all the riders.”
With the riders all heading home Coach Dunn hopes that the riders are leaving with more cycling knowledge than they arrived with, but also new friends.
“You need to make friends in cycling because you never know when you might need someone. Camaraderie is encouraged.”
For those who shined in the power profile testing they will be invited to the national team camp in October. For the other riders they now have the skills necessary to advance through the ranks.
Past attending campers have included Saul Raisin, Chris Butler, Craig Lewis, Strad Helms and Taylor Tolleson – so you never know who might be the next American superstars to come out of this or one of the other development camps in the country.
Will Richter is one of the hot local talent that was participating in the camp. This is Richter’s third year at the development camp, and only his forth year as a competitive cyclist. This 16-year old already has had strong results not only out on the race course but also in the field testing that was conducted during camp. While a lot of young men his age are distracted, Richter is focused on being the best cyclist he can be. In fact at the Tuesday night Donaldson race (SCTAC) he infiltrated the break and then out sprinted Thad Dulin for the win. Very impressive.
“I’m hoping that USA Cycling takes a look at my results (power tests) and I can move up to the national team,” said Richter.
Richter, like all the cyclists who attended the camp, has learned many valuable lessons.
“I learned how to pace myself on the climbs and put out the power when you need to. Also, how to recover, because the guys who do well in the stage races are the ones who recover the best and then do the best.”
For some of these riders their next big event is nationals in Bend, Oregon. For others it’s back to local racing but with a whole new skill set.