/ Johann Wykerd
Every now and again one of my peers will throw a comment out on social media that makes me think … the other day I saw such a comment again. It was about junior cyclists and over training.
I am not a scientist of anything nor a director of anyone … I am just a passionate guy who has made it my life’s task to see if I can make a positive difference in the lives of the people around me, young and old, through the bike. And if there is one thing I have learnt during my 20+ year journey of staying focused on this task, it’s that average people do not exist… God made all of us uniquely different and perfect. And this then brings me back to who is a junior and what is over training.
Who is a junior?
According to the UCI a junior cyclist is a young man or woman who is younger than 19 years old by the 31st of December of that year. My question is this, Is a 17-year-old whose birthday is in January the same as a 17-year-old whose birthday is in December? Surely not, those of you who have been around young people during this phase of their lives will agree, you can see them maturing month-to-month. My next question is, Is a 17-year old who has been riding his/her bike consistently since the age of 12 more or less a junior than a 30-year old man who got his bike a couple of months ago?
Then we have young people who come out of broken and difficult homes and they are using the bike to escape their reality … do we tell them don’t ride so much, go home and rest? Not me …
Or the young man who survived cancer and doesn’t know how long he has on this earth … do we stop him from riding Swartberg Pass in the middle of summer? Not me …
Being on the bike gives us freedom and joy … It allows us to express ourselves in ways few other sports do.
I believe each young person is uniquely different and it is our task to create adventures and opportunities according to each of their capabilities … not just to paint everyone with the same brush, in that if you are younger than 19 you are not capable or it’s bad for you to ride your bike for more than 3 hours at a time …
Live is an adventure, unique to everyone, and I use the bike to share this adventure with people. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of an adventure is: “an unusual, exciting, and possibly dangerous activity, such as a trip or experience, or the excitement produced by such an activity”. And this is what we are sharing with them. It is not a scientifically correct process of 1+1=2. We go out there and explore what makes us happy, what are we afraid of, what challenges us, what are our limitations etc.
Then, when we know who we are, we can better plan who we want to become.
I have had the privilege to play a small part in the lives of some of the best mountain bikers in South Africa over the last 20 years … and I hope and trust that they look back at the time they spend in our family as a time that helped shaped them to be the men and women they are today.
Oh, and before I forget …over-training … Over-training is when we stress our bodies too much over a prolonged period of time (weeks and months) without proper recovery.
If you are reasonably fit and well rested and then do a week of high-volume, low intensity training followed by a good solid recovery period, its not over-training … it’s called going on an adventure …and if we do this a few weeks away from your 1st big race, you will most probably see a nice fitness jump.