By ALP Coach Patricia Schwager
This blog is about my experience with directing the All Stars Collegiate Team at the North Star GP. It was my first DS job and I was super excited for the opportunity.
About the All Stars Collegiate Team: riders get selected at Collegiate Nationals. Racing for the Collegiate All Stars Team is a unique chance for the girls as they get top support for 2 weeks (at camp and during North Star GP) - all they have to do is race their bike. They get to race against the top women racers in the country- plus they compete in front of the team managers of the top women teams in the nation. Showing a good performance can give them the chance to get a contract with a team.
I flew to Minneapolis a few days early to meet up with team manager, and ALP athelte, Jill. Together we pre rode the 2 road race stages and made sure everything was ready when the girls arrive.
Day 1: arrival day. I did airport runs, helped the girls to build their bikes together, packed the van/ car and then drove out to our camp in Amery WI. An easy spin to shake out the legs rounded the day off.
Day 2: was a hot day so we started our training ride early in the morning. 3 hours Endurance including some blocks with rotating pace lines. I was very happy with the improvement- the pace line in the end of the training looked nice and smooth and the girls were riding closely together.
Day 3: 2 hour ride with skills, drills and tactics. We practiced: leadouts, TT-starts, closing gaps, riding up the middle and slalom around teammates, feeding from the car and handing up bottles from the road side. We ended the session with some skills like touching elbows, shoulders etc. In the afternoon I cleaned all the bikes for the girls.
Day 4: was our travel day back to Minneapolis. We stopped in Stillwater for coffee and to pre drive the famous Stillwater criterium course. Buying groceries, settling in in our nice host house and a very easy recovery spin were the other tasks on our program.
Day 5: the day before the race. We got up early to pre ride and do openers on the TT course. I rode with the girls and gave them advice for the TT (which line to take, how to ride the turnaround etc.) Around noon we had a sponsor function at the Medica headquarters (Medica was our team sponsor). After that the girls all got a massage and had time to relax while I attended the DS meeting.
The whole idea of the camp before the North Star GP was to create a team out of 6 individual riders. My goal was to find the right balance between working hard and having fun. I tried to teach them as much as possible in the 5 days- without over doing it or putting pressure on them. I joined every training ride on my bike- so I could see or teach things 1:1. In my opinion a coach on the bike can teach better than a coach sitting in the car.
I made them work together on and off the bike. We had meetings every day to talk about different topics and the girls asked me a lot of questions. We had nice campfire chats (of course with eating S’mores) and played games or just sat together after dinner to talk about random stuff. A big thank you to Sue and Jay Kakuk for hosting us on their farm- they provided us with delicious food and they also make the best cookies called: Kakookies!
I was very impressed and pleased how everything worked out at camp. The girls were willing to learn and showed great team spirit. We were ready for 5 days of racing!
Part 2 of this blog will follow, to share the experience about racing at NSGP.