Isn’t this supposed to be an amateur sport? For kids?


A couple of months ago my 2 boys competed in their first ever open cycling event; an event that can be contested by anyone with a current domestic racing licence.  It was also an event specifically for juniors so the oldest riders competing turn 16 some time in 2008.  It was a fantastic event with the kids racing a time trial in the morning and a criterium in the afternoon.


My boys, as new and inexperienced competitors were comfortably at the back of their respective age groups.  They were excited just to be there and having a go and on the trip home the post race debriefing contained questions like “did you have fun” and “did you do your best”.


That’s all I expect.  Endeavour and enjoyment.  Achievement will come with time. 


Tonight I was going through some of the photographs of that race and discovered the scourge of the junior peleton.  It’s similar to the over-exuberance displayed by football parents fighting on the sidelines or abusing officials.


The only difference is that in cycling there are other ways to over compensate for your own shortcomings.  While living vicariously through your child is a normal phase in adult life, cycling offers other ways to go to excess.


I have attached a photograph of the issue at hand.  It’s the if you can’t fix it with a hammer get a bigger hammer syndrome.  Like I said early on this was a junior carnival.  These are just kids.  Actual kids.


The original purpose of the photograph when I aimed the camera was to save for posterity the bizarre position my 13 year old occasionally assumes when pedalling – namely that pictured (he’s centre frame in orange) riding right on the nose of the saddle with the point of the seat under his right hip joint.  Always the right.  Who knows. 


My 2 boys are very new to the sport so I’m not using them as a benchmark.  In fact apart from the consumables (tyres, tubes, cables, bar tape) their bikes are both Frankenstein’s monster machines cobbled together using parts much closer to 20 years old than new.


On the other hand I don’t deny people the right to buy new stuff.  In fact I’ve got a shopping list for my kid’s bikes as soon as I finish studying in 12 weeks and 4 days (tick tock).  Very first on that list is to give them 10 gears to work with.  Currently 1 runs 9, the other 8 and because of their ages they both have the bottom 2 locked out.  Shimano make 10spd blocks starting at 14, 15, 16 so a couple of clusters, chains and 105 lever sets isn’t a big deal to move them from 6/7 to 10.  But that’s about $300 per bike.  Not a small amount but neither am I going out to buy them each a carbon fibre, full Dura-ace road bike and matching TT bike.


Where am I going with this?  Let’s look at the photo now.


junior P3C 


What I didn’t notice on the day was the level of equipment used by some of these competitors.  I mentioned there was a TT.  On the left of the photo is the tail section of a bike.  Not just any bike though.  It’s a Cervelo P3C.  Just like Fabian Cancellara has ridden to multiple world TT championships.  Click that first link and then down on the right margin click the pricing tab.  That’s right, US$3300.  Not for a bike, just a naked frame.  Rules relating to juniors prevent the use of disc wheels or wheels with rim sections deeper than 45mm, otherwise I’m sure I’d be looking at a P3C with Zipp 808s.

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14 Responses to Isn’t this supposed to be an amateur sport? For kids?

  1. Boz says:

    How about the meat-head parents enrolling their kids in mixed "martial arts" at age 3. Nothing like teaching kids to pound on their school mates for recreation. Actually, it’s much more fun to beat someone who has more money than skill or training on occasion. Bling doesn’t always equate to speed, a valuable lesson your boys will learn at a young age.

  2. Amanda says:

    Big Mike,
    It is happening in every sport.  Swimming is my forte and I put the boy in it at a young age, but he races in normal thigh length skins not the full racing suit, we can not afford the huge cost of three suits a year.  We are all keen cyclists as well and we have the "Specialised" brand racing bikes , which is bottom of the range we know (we buy the old stock to save money as we do not compete – we just cycle for enjoyment).  My friend has her boys in football (ages 8 and 10) and again the cost of equipping them is getting out of control – the kids want what their hero’s have and it is hard to say no – Good luck to the parents that equip their kids with $4000 dollar bikes – it does not mean that they are better !!!!

  3. Tim D says:

    You can also be pretty certain that the parents are not volunteering to be marshals either.  A month or so ago I was the bike course marshal for the St Annes triathlon, which has a special emphesis on the younger racers.  The bike course has 38 road junctions each of which needs manning by a marshal.  There are also special trun points for 4 junior age groups and the seniors that all need marshals, plus pool and run course marshals.  All in all about 200 people are needed.  So when a parent starts harassing me about the fact that they’ve just watched their little angel and future worlds champion go an extra 200 yards cos there was no marshal telling her where to turn, my sympathies were somewhat stretched.  He couldn’t possible man that turn point cos he had to oversee his budding Olympian get out onto the run. 
    Don’t get me started!!!!!

  4. Unknown says:

    That looks like Crestmead? Nice blog.
    I wish I had parents who bought me a P3C. Mind you, I’m 34! 🙂 Agree with everything you say. 

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