Developing a new view of development teams

Sorry to those of you who have come to Low Cadence expecting to find video of the Upstate Winter Bicycle League. I know I mentioned my plan was to get the Waterloo sprint and some overview video of the ride. Well, “the crash” changed things for me.  Should have a clip up tomorrow.

Another goal of the ride was to follow the Hincapie Development Team around as the UWBL progressed. This was different for me because I typically don’t focus on any particular riders or teams during the event. I would also spend some time with the team during other times of the weekend.

So, when the ride was disrupted, I had to make a choice. The HDT decided to follow Boyd Johnson on a ride up the Greenville Watershed. I either went with the UWBL or followed through on my feature with Hincapie. Of course, the guys didn’t know that when they took off after Boyd. I followed.

Well, I learned some things on that ride! It actually made things easier for me because I now had the group isolated from the hundred or so other riders they would have been mixing around. I was better able to observe their interaction and get them together on the video.

What did I learn? For one thing, I had always thought a development team would be a group of riders that were pretty raw in their experience and talent. Perhaps compared to pros that might be the case. However, these guys I was riding with were all Category 3 up to Category 1 racers. They might be young… but they can flat out handle a bike and put on a hurtin’ going uphill.

Speaking of ages, I also came to realize that on a development team, age is not necessarily a determining factor. It can include early high schoolers right up to college graduates. With age comes a certain level of fitness and life experience, and the team works to use that dynamic to its advantage.

What I came to realize is that the purpose of the development team only deals in a small way with the physical development of the riders. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t. It is just that these riders all love riding and are pretty self motivated. They would be working to get to the top of their sport with or without the team.

What the team is developing is the all around package. It provides structure for these riders who may be coming from more informal club teams. It gives them access to professional riders and older mentors who show them some of the ropes of being a racer — both off and on the bike.

Really, what I gathered is that Rich Hincapie and Steve Baker (along with a number of others) want to give these young riders an experience as close as possible to a real professional team. I know they will be the first to admit that not all of those pieces are in place yet… but you could say that is another part of what makes it a “development” team.

Churning up the Greenville Watershed with Chris Butler (cat. 1 racers and national collegiate champion) and Christian Parrett (cat. 1 racer heading to Europe this year to represent the US) taking the lead, I rode along side DLP pro racer Boyd Johnson. These guys weren’t going slow and it wasn’t but about five minutes before I was hurtin’ bad!

I don’t know if they slowed down any before the top, but the thought that came to my mind was, “Development, my foot!”