USA Cycling stages its Regional Talent ID Camp at Pacific University for the fifth straight summer

 - Jim Anderson (front) leads a pack of riders near Roy last Thursday during the USA Cycling Regional Talent ID Camp based in Forest Grove.They would have been hard to miss, if you caught a glimpse of them last week.

Perhaps you saw the young cyclists flying as a pack — some three dozen strong — down a rural road near Forest Grove or elsewhere in Washington County. Maybe you spotted one or two riders going solo during a time trial session near Dairy Creek or up Clapshaw Hill. Maybe you brushed shoulders with one of them while they checked out the sights at last week’s farmers market downtown.

Some of those young riders could well be the future of U.S. cycling, and they spent last week in Forest Grove trying to take a step toward that possible future. The group of 34 riders, who ranged in age from 14 to 18, was on hand for one of a dozen Regional Talent ID Camps put on by USA Cycling — the sport’s governing body in the U.S. — across the country this year. The camp, the fifth in a row in Forest Grove, was based out of Gilbert Hall on the Pacific University campus.

“Even with 34 riders, it seemed to go fairly well,” camp manager Jim Anderson said earlier this week about working with such a sizeable group. “We had to stay on top of it, though, with logistics and stuff like that.”

Those are good issues to grapple with, however.

This year’s group was the second-largest in the five years the camp has been based in Forest Grove, Anderson said, and he also confirmed that it was the largest among all of the Talent ID camps in the country this year. A few of the campers reside in Oregon, but most came from out of state — Washington, California, Idaho, and even Texas and Michigan.

Anderson, the camp’s coaches and adult ride leaders put the 31 male and three female riders through their paces last Sunday through Friday. The week was packed with not only group rides and time trial sessions to assess riders’ capabilities, but also with on-bike skill work and off-bike presentations.

The cyclists learned about topics such as proper nutrition and how to ride a time trial, for example. A representative from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency also gave a presentation, teaching the young riders about the drug-testing process they might undergo at races and the importance of careful scrutiny of supplements, which are not always well-regulated.

Anderson picked out a couple of highlights from the week, one of which was a skills session on the grass that had the campers working on skill-specific drills and playing games.

The other was a visit early in the week from KGW television personality Drew Carney for one of his “Out & About” segments. While most of the riders demonstrated their bike-handling skills during an on-camera drill, Carney interviewed one of the campers, and he eventually hopped on a bike himself to try the drill out.

As with all of the USAC Talent ID camps, this one was designed not only to help young riders grow their skills, but also to get them in the organization’s developmental pipeline, which could lead to opportunities such as attendance at a National Talent ID Camp or even representation at the international level.

That is all pretty serious stuff, but the camp was still fun, too.

Eighteen-year-old Ayden Young, of Olympia, Wash., said last week that he enjoyed the contact drills in one session, in which the cyclists took turns bumping one another while on their bikes. Though usually unintentional, contact can happen in racing, so the drill gave the riders the chance to learn how to deal with it. Young said he also enjoyed the informative presentations and just spending time hanging out with his peers.

With five years of cycling under his belt, Young is pretty experienced for his age in the sport. With just 1½ years of riding and one racing season, Hakon Hanesand, 15, is a bit less so, and he spent last week soaking up information and seeing how he stacks up against other riders his age, as he said there are not that many of them in Houston, where he lives.

Hanesand got into cycling by tagging along with his dad on rides.

“I used to play soccer and the different feeling of kind of having to rely on other people, whereas in cycling, it’s more of yourself and you can control everything yourself, almost, at least in the early stages of the sport,” he explained. “And it’s just a lot of fun, just putting it all out there and just going for it.”

Last week, he got to do just that in Forest Grove — and learn a little bit along the way.

“You learn every day at this camp,” Young said. “There’s always something to learn.”

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