RIDE AS MUCH OR AS LITTLE OR AS LONG OR AS SHORT AS YOU FEEL, BUT RIDE.
What is Youth Cycling?
OC currently has both a road and track series that allows riders between the ages of 9-16 to experience the speed and thrills of racing. The series focuses on participation and fun. With each passing year, more youth riders are participating and higher quality events around the province are taking place. The series are driven at the grassroots level with support from racers, parents, clubs and officials. Cyclo-Cross and Mountain Bike races continue to be incorporated into the OCup/Regional race format where youth riders compete within their age and ability level.
How do you get involved?
With their feet on the pedals and their head in the clouds, cyclists in all parts of Ontario enjoy the freedom of feeling the fresh air on their skin. If this is the feeling you are seeking, you came to the right place. Our members are drawn from all areas and backgrounds, with riders from under five years of age up to forty plus. By becoming a member at Ontario Cycling (OC), you are joining the cycling community, and it will get you access to several activities and member benefits. Get your membership and license here. If you are new to the sport of Mountain Bike racing, please select the entry-level/novice category unless you have a previous race license with another cycling entity (proof required before the license will be issued)
Youth MTB Development Series
Beginning in 2022, youth (8-16 years of age, not including U17 Expert) will now be slotted into ability-based “Grade” categories. This change will bring the MTB youth categories into closer alignment with those in Road, Cyclo-cross and Track racing events, and will provide a stronger athlete development system based on ability, rather than simply age.
The youth ability-based system will be a “self-seeding” category structure where coaches/parents are expected to enter their youth athletes in the most appropriate category for their current ability and skill level. Upgrading or downgrading from one youth category to another will be at the discretion of the coach/parent of the athlete. Category standings will continue to be tracked; however, parents/coaches are encouraged to focus more on the youth member’s development within the sport, rather than winning series recognition.
As the youth categories are self-seeded, the following chart has been created to simply act as a suggestion chart. Some early season growing pains with seeding in the appropriate category are expected, but ultimately, this shift will result in a stronger development race series for youth participants.
- A Grade: Top 50% in U17 Sport Boys | Top 25% in U15 Boys 13-18km
- B Grade: Finished in the Bottom 50% of U17 Sport | Finished outside of the Top 5 of U15 | Finished in Top 3 consistently of U13 | Finished Top 505% of U17/Junior Sport | Finished in Top 25% of U15 5-10km
- C Grade: Limited racing experience in OCup MTB Series | Finished in the Bottom 50% of Boys’ categories | Finished in the Bottom 75% of Girls’ categories 5-10km
- D Grade: New or very limited OCup MTB race experience | Have raced weekly series or other cycling discipline 4-6km
- E Grade: New or very limited MTB racing experience 4-6km
Athletes looking to upgrade to the U17 Expert category for Ontario provincially-sanctioned events must submit a request to the OC Youth Upgrade/Downgrade Committee for approval. The minimum requirement for requests includes A-Grade results for Boys and B Grade results for Girls. The Committee will review the request and at their discretion, decide if the athlete is eligible for an upgrade to U17 Expert. For any athlete younger than 15 years of age (as of December 31, 2022), this upgrade does not apply for National Championship or Provincial Championship events.
Youth Road Development Series
The Youth Road Development Series will be an ability-based series. Participants will be able to choose from one of five categories depending on both their ability and comfort levels. Participants must be between the ages of 9 and 18 as of December 31st, 2022. Second-year Cadets with upgrades and Juniors can do both the Youth and Ontario Cup Series. Participants should consult their club & coaching staff first before choosing a category.
Categories will consist of A-Grade through to E Grade. The upper-tier grades are for athletes with more experience, or a higher comfort level and the lower tier grades are for those newer to the sport. For a detailed breakdown on categories please see the 2022 Youth Road Development Series Guidelines.
The following are the suggested distances for each grade. Distances will vary depending on each race venue. These distances through consultation were deemed appropriate for each category.
- A Grade – 40-50 KM
- B Grade – 30-40 KM
- C Grade – 25-30 KM
- D Grade – 15-20 KM
- E Grade – 10-15 KM
The Youth Road Development Series will consist of a road race as the core event and one additional event. The additional event may be a sprint challenge, team or individual time trial, skill session, hill climb, or a grasstrack race. Parents and coaches are encouraged to pick a category for their youth rider that is ability specific and challenging.
The wearing of a CSA-approved helmet is mandatory whenever astride a bicycle. Cycling gloves are strongly recommended. The participants are encouraged to ride on a road-racing bicycle however other suitable bicycles may be utilized. All equipment must be in good repair, have adequate tires and operating brakes. Wheels with a rim depth greater than 40mm are not permitted. These restrictions are in place so that the emphasis is placed on athlete development and personal achievements rather than athlete equipment needs.
- No bar-ends or aero bars
- Rim depth larger than 40mm is not permitted
All participants in the Youth Road Development Series must be a licensed member of the OC. Licensing is as follows. Licenses must be purchased two weeks in advance of the first event in order to allow for processing time. Be sure to have your license in advance of the first race!
Under the new Youth Road Series format, each event will be run with ability-based categories. That means that every rider, regardless of their age will have to meet the Cadet gear restriction at a minimum which is 7.12 meters. We still encourage athletes to implement the gear restriction base on their age set out by Cycling Canada. The rollout distances can be found below:
- U17 – 7.12 M rollout
- U15 – 6.71 M rollout
- U13 – 6.2 M rollout
Youth Track Development Series
The Track Development Youth Series has been designed to optimize the development of our young athletes through a format that removes the emphasis on winning and instead focuses on skill development. Riders will now select their category based on their own ability. The ability categories will allow athletes at different levels of physical maturity or time in the sport to participate in meaningful mixed gender competition. This will also provide better opportunities for young riders to develop skills and progress as an athlete, and be challenged by other riders of a similar ability.
Riders select their category based on their own ability. This is to further align the Track Development Youth Series with the Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD) This alignment will allow first time riders to select a category that they are both comfortable with and allow them to work their way up to competing in a more advanced category. Under the new system males and females will be racing together with riders of the same caliber. Cycling Canada’s Track Cycling LTAD Model states:
- It is deemed essential to base cycling-specific training on developmental age, not on chronological age
- It is essential to understand that when working with young athletes, we are not simply preparing them for our sport, but for all sports- and that by offering well-rounded development that builds physical literacy, we are also preparing them for a more active, healthy lifestyle
- Young athletes of the same chronological age can vary widely in their development, ability to learn skills, and emotional readiness for competition. Over-emphasis on skills and tactics the athlete is not ready to learn, or intensive competition can take the FUN out of the sport.
- Young athletes deserve a program appropriate to their own stage of development.
The emphasis on ‘Winning’ in the Track Development Youth Series has been reduced:
- Winning does not allow room for failure and learning
- Winning is all about the outcome, not the process of developing proper skills
- Winning rarely wields room for development; proper development inevitably leads to success
Where do you start?
- Participants should be between the ages of 9 & 18
- Have a track bicycle in proper condition
- Possess a Provincial or a UCI Race License
- It is preferred that participants have some racing experience
Each race will feature 3-4 different events for each category. Please refer to the event calendar and the corresponding tech guide for event descriptions as well as a list of events to be held. Events such as:
- Standing 250M
- Standing 500M
- Scratch Races
- Points Races
- Chariot Races
- Point a Lap
- Flying Lap
- Longest Lap