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Rapha Foundation - Boulder Junior Cycling

Boulder Junior Cycling

The Rapha Foundation launched in 2019 with the goal of building a better future for cycling by inspiring, empowering and supporting the next generation of racers. Boulder Junior Cycling was awarded one of the first grants and now shares an update on how that funding has been used.

22 November 2019

Founded in 2006, Boulder Junior Cycling is a year-round youth cycling program in Boulder, Colorado. Its mission is to inspire and develop junior cyclists and in just over a decade, it has grown into one of the largest and most successful junior cycling teams in the United States. BJC provides programs for all abilities aged 4-22 in mountain biking, cyclocross and road cycling. In 2018, BJC was named Junior Club of the Year by USA Cycling and designated a USA Center of Excellence every year since 2008.

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When Boulder Junior Cycling applied for the grant, they did so with four goals. To find out more about how the grant would be put to use in achieving these, we spoke with Executive Director Pete Webber.

1

 

INCREASE PARTICIPATION IN BJC PROGRAMS BY GIRLS

 

Back in 2019, 15% of USA Cycling members and 20% of NICA members were female. BJC stood at a comparable 20%, intending to reach 40% within three years. We spoke to Executive Director Pete Webber at the time who shared his thoughts on how BJC would reach this aim: “The goal is to reach a tipping point where more girls want to ride bikes because it goes beyond exercise or training and becomes a social outlet and lifestyle.”

In the last 18 months, BJC has taken several steps to redress the balance between boys and girls. This has included offering taster sessions so girls could try without pressure, creating entry-level programs that are less intimidating to new riders and recruiting and training more female coaches. Now, women make up 40-50% of their coaching staff.

We’re pleased to report that overall participation has doubled since 2018, from 180 to 350 and more importantly, female participation has increased at an even greater rate from 31 to 81. This ambitious aim has been achieved but BJC is still focused on attracting more young women to the sport.

2


BROADEN BJC PROGRAMS TO REACH A WIDER RANGE OF KIDS


Another key aim for BJC was to broaden its programs in order to reach a wider range of ages, abilities, backgrounds, and social circles. “We try to create a program that mirrors traditional mainstream sports”, said Pete Webber when we spoke to him back in 2019. “That means regularly scheduled sessions after school that match the school calendar and professional coaches that are well-trained to provide parents with a high degree of confidence that the program is going to be safe and effective.”

Since receiving funding from the Rapha Foundation, BJC has added more ways to get involved, offering free activities, providing van transportation, and low-cost seasonal bike rentals as just a few ways to make its programs as inclusive as possible.

In total BJC has added five new programs to appeal to a broader range of riders. These include BikePlay for ages four to six, Young Devo for ages six to eight, Shredders for gravity and enduro, CX High to introduce teenagers to cyclocross and a new U23 team called Meta. Going forward, BJC also aims to partner with sister programs that serve diverse communities to improve inclusivity further.

3


Improve BJC high-performance programs to continue developing top racers


While BJC hoped to grow participation by becoming more inclusive, it also wanted to develop its high-performance program and offer more opportunities for promising athletes. To achieve this, BJC came up with an action plan that included coach education, purchasing a van for race trips, and developing their track program. “We believe that a successful program will offer both ends of the spectrum, where you have support for people just starting out and guidance for aspiring racers”, said Pete Webber, BJC Executive Director. “At the other end, there’s a very competitive element where racing is the focus. We want to provide both ends of the spectrum because they feed each other.”

With too much focus on performance, BJC recognised they might dissuade athletes who would otherwise get involved purely for fun only to discover a love of competition later. Removing the pressure to compete helped increase participation in the first instance, and BJC looked to increase opportunities for the riders who would later seek competition. Thanks to the work they have put into this aim, BJC’s racing programs have grown and improved every year, providing more sophisticated coaching and more resources to support promising athletes. They purchased a van for out of state race trips, invested in a fleet of loaner bikes to introduce cyclocross to more racers, and have launched a U23 team to keep young adults engaged once they graduate from BJC. e focus. We want to provide both ends of the spectrum because they feed each other.”

4


Share lessons learned and best practices with other youth cycling programs


Finally, BJC wanted to make sure that they weren’t the only ones to benefit from the grant they received. As such, their fourth commitment is to the broader cycling community, not just those young riders who could attend a training program with BJC in Colorado: “As we grow, we are committed to keeping our programs open-source and to sharing best practices, so positive change is multiplied and reaches beyond our region. With enhanced resources, we will be well-positioned to share our successes”, said Pete Webber back when BJC first received its funding in 2019.

BJC has prioritised sharing their experiences, materials, and business practices whenever they can. An example of this came during the pandemic when they produced a set of written coronavirus policies and shared them nationwide. Many junior clubs used this material to support when restarting their programs. They have also added a resources section to their website for other clubs to borrow. This includes lesson plans, operating procedures, fundraising strategies, and boilerplate documents. Investing significant resources into athletes’ wellbeing, BJC has recently earned a Gold Level in USA Cycling’s newly launched Safe Sport Certification Program.

We’re pleased to see Boulder Junior Cycling going from strength to strength and trust that the grant provided by the Rapha Foundation will continue to help support the organisation achieve its aims.

The Rapha Foundation's mission is to build a better future for the sport of cycling by inspiring, empowering and supporting the next generation of racers. We will provide direct funding to grassroots and not for profit organisations that introduce under-served audiences to the sport. We will champion these organisations and take aspiring racers on a journey from their local park to podiums at the top of the sport. We will do this all over the world.

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