Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 21st, 2010 at 3:32 pm
The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) will launch a cyclocross development league and training program at high schools throughout the state this fall. OBRA, a non-profit with nearly 5,000 members across Oregon, has created a white paper on the new initiative that identifies cyclocross as "a great way to introduce young athletes to the sport of cycling."
OBRA membership numbers show that cyclocross has been the fastest growing discipline every year since 2006, outpacing road, mountain and track racing. Kenji Sugahara, OBRA's executive director, says the program's first season will begin in September and they'll plan to expand it next year. "We're going in with the understanding that the first year will be small, but it's a matter of getting a foothold and moving up from there."
Sugahara says the High School Training and Racing Program will be organized like a "club sport" with volunteer coaches and trainers. He envisions each participating school would field teams of 4-8 students and training clinics would be held on school grounds.
"Our main goal is to make this a game-changer for cycling throughout the state by legitimizing it as a major high school sport like football or basketball."
-- Kenji Sugahara, Executive Director of OBRA
OBRA plans a three-race series in 2010 that will happen in September, with the inaugural championships occurring over Thanksgiving weekend. Also working on the project are Rick Potestio, John Myers, and Brad Ross -- all of whom have been instrumental in developing the popular Cross Crusade into the largest cyclocross series (in terms of participation) in the world. Potestio, Myers, and Ross are working on a video and workbook that will serve as a coaches handbook.
OBRA has also named the first communities that will field teams this year. They include; Bend, Eugene/Corvallis, Newport, Salem/Keizer, Portland, Hood River, and Medford.
Back in March, I reported that the National Interscholastic Cycling Association was gaining momentum and signing up new chapter states. Sugahara says since Oregon already has a solid organizational infrastructure for cycling, this new initiative will be wholly operated by OBRA.
For Sugahara, the new program is about much more than just racing bikes. "Our main goal is to make this a game-changer for cycling throughout the state by legitimizing it as a major high school sport like football or basketball." He also sees potential for cyclocross racing clubs in high schools to impact advocacy issues and has already discussed the new initiative with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. "Visibility of cycling in general equals more acceptance, which equals safer roads, which equals getting more people out on their bikes."