by Coach Frazier
April 4, 2013
The annual spring Chattanooga Ride (May 11, 2013) is an important part of our junior cycling program. And like everything else in our program there is a specific purpose for it. Below is an excerpt from an article on developing toughness by Coach Frazier that appeared in Performance Conditioning publication last summer (the complete article is attached). This article explains how the Chattanooga Ride develops mental toughness in our juniors. To complete this ride is a major accomplishment. Here is the list of juniors who have shown their mental toughness by completing the 142 mile ride. They are to be congratulated!
James Todd (2), Zoe Frazier (5), Russell Tindol (2), Ben Rothschild, Andrew Macrae (4), Andrew Hodges (4),David Goodman (4), Fletcher Lydick
Dominique Shore, Nick Frazier (4), Sam Tomaka, Carrie Burke, Jonathan Cucaz, Alexander Dijkema, Stephanie Cucaz (2), Philip O’Donnell (2)
A key in developing toughness is presenting challenges that are difficult for juniors to overcome, but not so difficult that their falling short to achieve these challenges does not break their resolve. One example for developing toughness in our program is our annual Chattanooga Ride that we hold each spring. The ride is a single day event that covers 142 miles through the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. The ride has a time limit and we require that the participants stay together for the whole ride. We arrange full vehicle support for the entire ride, which includes two breaks – it’s a ride not a race!
The Chattanooga Ride is an integral part of our junior cycling program. It offers our juniors something huge to overcome. Of course, not every member of our team is ready for this challenge because they are neither strong enough physically nor tough enough mentally to complete the whole ride. To participate, team members must be selected by their performances in progressively difficult qualifying rides that we conduct throughout the spring.
All junior team members and their parents are made familiar with our Chattanooga Ride and the steps toward qualification. We do not discriminate by age, size, or gender. Qualification is determined by performance and progress throughout the series of qualifying rides. In this way, we have a step-by-step process to evaluate the riders. Additionally, each team member is not overwhelmed by the ultimate goal: qualification for our Chattanooga Ride. Indeed, if a member is not selected to participate in the next qualifier, they have perspective for setting goals for next year.
We present qualification, and especially completion, of our Chattanooga Ride as a special honor. It’s built into our program as an ultimate achievement. Indeed, the ride gives an opportunity to those who may not excel in racing an alternate avenue for success. By the end of the qualification process, we generally have ten to fifteen juniors, who are selected as Chattanooga Ride participants. We select only those team members who demonstrate the physical and mental ability to complete the event. Even so, completion is not guaranteed. The distance, duration, varied conditions, and group dynamics produce a challenge that varies from year to year. Hence, there is risk for each qualifying participant that they may not complete the ride; however, grit and toughness are products of this endeavor regardless of the outcome. Teamwork and team spirit are additional products of the ride because the group works together to get as many teammates to complete the ride as possible. This practice is our team approach in action! For those who complete the ride there is exhilaration and increased confidence. For those who fall short, they accept their circumstances with pride while looking forward with determination to complete the ride in the following year.
Our Chattanooga Ride is unique to our program. Indeed, we’ve gotten some criticism about our Chattanooga Ride because it does not fit within a “normal” race training schedule. Some have questioned, “Why would you have your kids ride 142 miles when their longest race is only 30 miles!” You may have the same question, but for us the answer is simple: There is more to training than just satisfying the physical side. There is more to cycling than just racing for today. We believe in developing our juniors for the future. Developing toughness is an important lifetime skill and it’s not just for Tour competitors – it’s for everyone. There are side benefits, too. Our Chattanooga Ride challenge gives the kids some diversity and diversion from the pressures of racing. We have found that anything you can do to keep juniors involved in our sport while avoiding burnout is always a plus!
It may be that a “Chattanooga Ride” is does not work for your juniors, but we urge that you find some challenge that pushes your kids to test and strengthen their toughness and prepare them for their futures.
Previous Coach's Corners -
2012 Season Looking Good April 18, 2012
Juniors Dominate Our Club Statistics October 14, 2011
Cyclocross, Burnout, and Peaking Sep 28, 2011
My 1,000th Flowery Branch 50 December 17, 2010
Field Testing - 3.2-mile ITT October 19, 2010