People first, stars later

February 15, 2016 § 17 Comments

Postdanmark Mini 6-days,

Copyright 2016 by Anne Juel

Ryder Phillips and Wulfgang Lochmiller completed the Copenhagen Six-day Mini in 6th place overall. It is the premier under-15 six-day event in the world, and the only six-day that offers a full six days of racing for the under-15 riders. The event has been going on for thirty-six years.

Ryder and Wulfgang won Stage Five, taking a lap on the field and winning the mid-race prime. This is the first time any Americans have won an under 15 six-day stage, or even scored any points. Wulfgang wiped out the week before while racing in Germany, so he was a bit torn up and he struggled the first few nights. They both came good on the fifth night and picked up what can only be described as a historic win.

The best part of this entire experience was the prep. The boys started doing weekly Madison workouts a year ago February. Ryder was pumping out five-hour, sixty-mile track workouts a few times a week for nearly eight weeks straight, and the boys were ripping the pedals off their bikes by the time he was ready to head out.

The progress that Ryder made prepping for the trip, and the passion he developed for cycling was incredible. It went from a nagging old man saying, “Dude, get your ass ready and turn off the x-box, we need to get to the track,” to the fired up kid saying, “Dad we have to go, we’re gonna be late! And we’re staying late for the intervals right?”

By the time they left for Copenhagen it was already a success, according to Ryder’s dad, Kevin.
“If he crashed out the first night we could still call the entire process a success just because of the personal growth he got preparing for it. He’s gone from the kid trying to hang with the adults to the kid that is hammering most of the adults, and it happened in a single off season.”

Daniel Holloway was also in Copenhagen racing the pro race and couldn’t have been more supportive, going out of his way to come down and say hello to the boys during warmup and offer them advice, although as 13-year-olds who already knew everything, it’s questionable how much of it they absorbed!

The benefits the kids got out of their first Euro tour will last them forever. They know how to travel on an international flight, how to exchange currency, how to order food from someone that does not speak English, ride a metro and get lost on a train and still figure out how to get back to their hotels. This doesn’t even include the fact that they can show up at an international race, find the promoter, mingle with twenty-six other kids that don’t speak much English, race in their heads while some Euro dude is babbling Danish on the PA system, AND race for the win.

Wulfgang hit the Berlin Six-Day before going to Copenhagen and meeting up with Ryder. He was nervous because of the size and reputation of the juniors there; there were some 14-year-olds who looked like they were prepping for the NFL combine. After the first heat Wulfgang snagged second place with points for the omnium and knew he was right at home, following it with fifth in the finals.

The next day he got second in the points race, which gave him yet more omnium points and put him in third place overall going into the final. He was having a great final and gunning for the podium when two other boys crashed; Wulfang went down as collateral damage. His bike was ruined, he had a bruised knee, and track rash on his leg.

Coach Tim Roach scrambled for a loaner bike so Wulfgang could race the final day, but after finding a bike and showing up to race the kid was simply to banged up to go. In Copenhagen the promoter and Danish club came up with a beautiful, perfectly fitting bicycle for Wulfang, saving $600 to overnight ship Wulfgang’s back-up bike. That and the amount of hospitality they give the American contingent left everyone feeling appreciative, humble, and embarrassed that the US doesn’t do the same for its foreign guests.

Most importantly, the success of these two boys was the result of the dedication shown by numerous track racers and coaches who gave untold hours of their time to coach, teach, show, and encourage Ryder and Wulfgang every step of the way.

This is what is so incredible about track racing, a level of personal caring and mentorship that is all but absent in the other cycling disciplines. Dave Grylls, two time Olympic silver medalist, donated hundreds of hours of coaching every Thursday.

Nelson Vails, John Walsh, Guy East, Matthew Chambers, and at least a dozen other expert track racers all came to the Carson velodrome and shared their passion, their expertise, and their decades of experience with these two young kids. Most juniors would be lucky to have a single pro roadie come to a junior road camp; forget having them donate endless hours to the kids’ success. Of course being coached by Tim Roach and Roger Young, two of the best in the business, didn’t hurt.

The fact that there are so many talented cyclists who want to give their time to the sport at no cost all, while USAC does little to take advantage of this and instead cries broke and wants parents to spend thousands on “talent camps” to “ID the stars of the future” is utter crap. Why? Because stars aren’t “ID’d.” They are made—made with time, patience, love, compassion, expertise, support, encouragement, and calculated risks.

It’s an amazing thing that the sport has people like Tim Roach whose response to USAC is “Nuts!” Tim puts his cards on the table and says go big, race in Europe, and see how good you really are. In addition, the kids get a global experience so when they’re at junior world’s they aren’t overwhelmed. For Tim to take these two kids to Europe along with his other racers was an amazing act of kindness and a demonstration of being a coach in the purest sense of the word.

The kicker? It didn’t cost much more than going to a USAC cycling camp, thanks to grants from the Foundation for American Track Cycling. Of course as a parent it’s not about making stars anyway. It’s about making good people.



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§ 17 Responses to People first, stars later

  • Brian in VA says:

    Great story, Wanky! Congrats to those two for showing what they’re made of AND navigating their way around the country. Chapeau to the promoter and the Danish club for coming up with a bike to ride post crash, too.

    Ryder and Wulfgang, we all look forward to seeing you in the future on progressively bigger stages!

  • David Huntsman says:

    These are also two of the nicest kids around. All involved should be very proud.

  • Worldchamp says:

    It does take a village, for sure! It’s great that Coach Roach bucks the trend and gives this fabulous opportunity to the kids! Bobby was a little late for the 6 Day program, but Coach Roach opened opportunities for him to have track racing experiences around the world that he’ll never forget. As Coach says, most of these kids are not going to be our Olympians (although some will), but they can have a race experience that they’ll never forget.

    Roach’s program leading up to Jr nationals has been life alternating for a lot of kids also. Raise the bar high and it’s amazing what kids will discover they are capable of. There’s just not enough of that in this country right now.

    • fsethd says:

      “Most of these kids are not going to be our Olympians, but they can have a race experience that they’ll never forget.”


  • shano92107 says:

    Wulfgang was in a couple of the training sessions I’ve been going to. He regularly smashes older seasoned riders. Incredibly strong, savvy and a very nice young man. He’s got a bright future, bike racing or otherwise

  • Spinner says:

    How is it that Velonews never has stories like this in their mag or online? I would rather read stuff like this, Seth, than more crap about pro racing that they keep publishing….

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks–VeloNews, like USAC, has better things to do than focus on regular people racing and training and doing amazing stuff for the love of being on a bike.

    • channel_zero says:

      VeloNews mostly writes what is fed to them by UCI/USAC mafia.

      The kids are not in the “pay to play” system, and haven’t been blessed by someone at USAC. Therefore, they don’t exist.

  • Melisa Mitchell says:

    Actually Wolfgang wasn’t “too banged up to ride” he was dressed and ready with his numbers pinned on when we were told that he couldn’t race because he didn’t finish the previous race that he crashed in….it was apparently an international rule that we just had to accept. I say this because I am incredibly proud of how he handled the situation even though he was extremely disappointed…He is one tough rider and a heck of a good sportsman!

  • Tom Paterson says:

    I subscribe to CITSB.
    I used to– a long, long time ago– used to subscribe to VeloNews.

    BTW, it sounds like those 13-year-olds have done some pretty good “listening” along the way– just sayin’…

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