SPEAKING OF SPOKES

To ride or not to ride: which event?

BY DAVID R. WARD

I came out of hibernation today, venturing outdoors for my first fresh air ride of 1998. Feeling (indeed, being!) overweight and out of shape, I felt like a genuine member of the "Old Guys Who Get Fat In Winter Racing Team." What a shameful disclosure.

I wasted no time in challenging myself, immediately heading into the south wind for the better part of an hour. Though ponderous on my bike, I soon began to feel better as I slipped into a slow but steady rhythm.

I finally looped around, now letting the wind push me north towards home. With its assistance, I dropped onto my small cog and flew along the road. "That feels good" I thought, as I dropped all my imaginary wheelsuckers.

It was enough to start me thinking about, and getting excited for, the upcoming cycling season. In reading this first issue of cycling utah, you too will sense this excitement.

Our season previews make abundantly clear that we have, in the intermountain area, the best and most scenic venues around. And with the number of events being held, it has reached the point where you cannot possibly do all that you would like. We have the decadent pleasure of having too much to choose from.

One of the events featured, and for which you will see advertising in these pages, is the Yellowstone Spring Cycle Tour 98. For more information on this, see the ad for this event, and the accompanying article by Tim Boschert.

For my part, I plan to be there. I have ridden the Lakeside Ride several times, and it is a favorite. And I do look forward to riding in Yellowstone Park without having to constantly look over my shoulder for cars, trucks and RVs.

Still, this is a perfect example of the exasperation of having to choose from two excellent offerings. Also on April 11 is the Antelope Island Buffalo Bike Ride. I did this one last year, and it was great. Alas, this year I will opt for Yellowstone.

Another new offering in these pages, though actually in its third year, is the Summer Solstice 200. This features 200 miles of winding valleys and mountain passes which include over 12,000 feet of climbing. And in one day. Whew! I am still debating this one. Will I be up to it? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, there are plenty who will be prepared for it, and I hope to see it grow into a successful event. Double centuries are not too common, and this has to be one of the best in terms of challenge and beauty.

Once again, though, this illustrates the painful pleasure of having too many choices, as the High Uintas Stage Race, an excellent and exciting event, also occurs this same weekend.

In this issue you will also find substantial information on the Wild Rockies Series. This is one of the premier mountain bike race series in the nation. Ron Dillon and Ed Chauner have joined forces and the result is nothing but good news. There is a plethora of pedaling events to choose for your pleasure.

This issue of cycling utah brings with it a promise of an exciting year for all cyclists. So, let your enthusiasm flow, and plan your season from all the exciting offerings you will find in cycling utah.

I read with interest the article "Junior Racers an Endangered Species", in the February 2, 1998 issue of Velo News. The declining junior numbers are a disturbing but difficult problem. I certainly have no easy answers.

In looking over this year's schedule, I picked up on what I believe is one glaring cause: Few races offer junior categories.

Was I surprised? No, because I had noticed this trend in recent years. I have five children, a couple of whom have had some interest in racing. But in looking for events to take them to, on most occasions junior categories have not been offered.

As a result, about the only event in which they have raced has been the annual Utah Summer Games. Quinn Pratt, organizer of the cycling events, always has numerous junior categories, even if no one shows up.

And therein is my gripe and my point: If junior categories are not offered, they won't come. That is so painfully obvious that it is stupid to have to say it.

Though race flyers for this years upcoming races are scarce, the few I have seen are not en-couraging. The Chums Classic has no junior categories. Neither does the Snake River Omnium nor the Twin Rivers Classic.

It is my opinion that every event should offer junior categories. I am not suggesting that this will suddenly result in an outpouring of junior riders. Despite all the junior categories and enticements, last year's LAJORS event in Herriman attracted so few juniors they could be counted on two hands.

But there were some, one of whom was my daughter. And if promoters continue to offer junior categories, then I believe those numbers will increase. Certainly I am not the only parent who has had a child interested in racing, only to find there was no junior category.

As I stated, the Utah Summer Games offer junior categories every year. Nevertheless, the number of junior riders has decreased there, as well. But some juniors are still showing up to race. Isn't that what we want?

The Velo News article stated, "Key to any successful program, stressed [USCF Executive Dir-ector Evan] Call, is to offer as many racing opportunities as possible."

I agree. I applaud the efforts promoters are making, and am slow to criticize. But in this they have fallen short. I challenge them to reverse this practice and offer junior categories in every race. They have nothing to lose. I am confident that with time and patience, junior riders with start showing up to race.

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