Ski & Snowboard Club Vail launches new, full-time cycling program
VAIL — In an effort to take local mountain biking to the next level, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail announced Friday the formation of the county’s first full-time training and competition program for dedicated cyclists: the Vail Junior Cycling Club, as registered with USA Cycling.
While SSCV has for a number of years offered a part-time (May to October) program for competitive, high school-aged riders, this new program is for the year-round needs of dedicated athletes and enables them to compete and properly prepare for the Union of International Cyclists and USA Cycling race calendars, including the national championships in Winter Park.
Growth a factor
The new program, which begins in mid-January and will be offered to athletes aged 14 and older, will focus exclusively on cross-country mountain biking, but SSCV staff is open to the possibility of expanding to other cycling disciplines in the years to come.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail formed its mountain bike race program seven years ago as an offseason supplement to its wintertime snowsports. What started with seven athletes looking for a fun way to stay in shape over the summer has grown to almost 50 racers competing on behalf of three local high schools: Battle Mountain High School, Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and Eagle Valley High School.
“When we started the mountain bike program several years ago, we never could have imagined how much it would grow in such a short period of time,” said SSCV mountain-bike director Dan Weiland, who also leads the club’s Nordic program. “As the team grew and athletes became more and more competitive, we started to realize that we weren’t fully meeting the needs of the dedicated athletes for whom mountain biking is a top priority. Programs such as this are offered in powerhouse mountain-bike communities, such as Boulder and Durango, and we hope to elevate the Vail Valley to meet those demands.”
While Eagle County certainly has ample population, athleticism and enthusiasm for the program to thrive, the local climate does present a challenge compared to more low-lying mountain communities. It’s a challenge that program staff, including head coach Miles Gentry, is prepared to address.
The program, which will be facilitated through the Minturn Fitness Center and SSCV facilities, will consists of four to six cycling sessions per week, plus two strength sessions per week, in addition to cross-training possibilities with SSCV’s Nordic program.
Outdoor cycling on dry surfaces is possible in the valley often eight months or more out of the year. Within a day’s drive, the season is even longer. To meet the daily training needs of these athletes during winter periods, the program will outfit each athlete with an internet-enabled indoor power trainer, the results from which will be analyzed by the head coach on a daily basis. Combined with Nordic cross training, the potential for fat bike training, and the opportunity to travel to warmer climates, these athletes will have everything they need to be fully prepared for the competitive cycling season ahead.
These athletes will also race in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s Colorado High School Cycling League, which has become so popular among local riders of various abilities. Athletes will be encouraged to participate in other sports, as well, including SSCV’s full-time snowsport program offerings, such as Alpine and Nordic.
Parents and athletes interested in learning more about the Vail Junior Cycling Club should attend an informational meeting at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. or contact Gentry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On tap to lead the coaching efforts, Gentry graduated from Appalachian State in 2011 with a degree in exercise science. He specializes in endurance-based sports and oversees all metabolic and cardio testing for SSCV athletes. Gentry’s credentials include all of the following: certified USA Cycling level 2 coach, certified strength and conditioning specialist, NICA level 3 coach, training peaks certified level 2, and USA weight-lifting certified coach.
Joining Gentry will be local mountain biking legend Jay Henry, along with Weiland as its program director, and SSCV mountain bike coaches Mark Nelson and Christian Kloser.
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.