The future stars of cyclocross raced for free. ?Paul Weiss

Juniors may get a chance to practice on the legendary Gloucester course. ©Paul Weiss

Junior development is an important aspect of all cycling disciplines. As ’cross becomes more popular, the need to develop the youth of the sport will become vital to future success on the world stage. Programs across the country are embracing the concept, but the folks in New England may be the first to take the next step. Rather than informal gatherings and pulling from existing clubs, the City of Salem has gone further and is offering a full cyclocross course through its parks department. Cyclocross Magazine spoke with organizer Michael McKittrick, a teacher and newly anointed Elite racer with years of experience in youth cycling education, about the camp.

The Salem Parks Department in Massachusetts is sponsoring a great introductory cyclocross course for youth. McKittrick and Kelly Benefit Strategies pro Jesse Anthony, as his race schedule allows, will be helping attendees learn how to race cyclocross. McKittrick said that he’s working with other pros in addition to Anthony to come and help with the camp. Maureen Bruno-Roy is scheduled for one of the camp days, and another well-known face or two may make an appearance.

The six weekly classes will begin with basic bicycle maintenance and safety, and progress into more advanced bike handling, race skills and basic tactics. The culminating experience for many youth participants will be the opportunity to test their new skills on a true race course. Details are still being worked out, but McKittrick told Cyclocross Magazine that he is working with the organizers of the well-known Gran Prix of Gloucester event, and he hopes to be able to offer an incentive to campers to step up and race the famous course.

This series of classes is a great opportunity for local kids to learn ’cross from national champions. The camp will foster an encouraging atmosphere as opposed to a competitive one. Please do not allow your child to be discouraged if they know little about cycling or racing, the goal of the course is to build enthusiasm and help beginners get started. There will be no heckling.

More information on registering for the course is available on the Salem Parks Department website.