Closing the generation gap: Veterans lead new development team

This fall, my neighbor Don Powell and I sat down over a beer, and decided to start a team focused on mentoring young riders and helping them develop into better cyclists and people.

Editor’s note: Longtime pros Colby Pearce and Scott Moninger are heading up the new Horizon Organics-Panache Development Team. Pearce will be filing reports throughout the year on the trials and tribulations — and hopefully, successes — of this regional squad of younger riders. This is his first entry.

I am old.

Well, it is all relative, but in the sport of cycling I am old. I have been racing 22 years and have competed on five continents. I don’t feel old. I still plan on winning some races and dropping some young punks. But it’s time to pass on a bit of what I have learned to the younger generation.

This fall, my neighbor Don Powell and I sat down over a beer, and decided to start a team focused on mentoring young riders and helping them develop into better cyclists and people. Don raced as a professional in Europe. He cut his teeth in the gutters of Belgium, old school style. Hairnet helmets, box-section tubulars, knit-backed racing gloves. Now, as president of Panache Cyclewear, he competes for fun when it fits in, and wants to give back to the sport. We have similar perspectives on what we want to provide for young riders.

But this is not my first rodeo. This first development team I worked with became Garmin-Cervélo.

In 2002 Jonathan Vaughters called me to help start a team that would focus on under-23 riders. We scouted riders and called sponsors and plotted and schemed. Together we made a good pair. He was shaking hands, kissing babies, and finding money. I was emailing sponsors, finalizing Oakley orders and color coordinating pantones. He had a knack for the big picture and I dorked out on details, much like when we raced together as juniors.

The next chapter

Two years later we had names like Frischkorn, Caldwell, Lewis and Duggan on our team. We competed in the Tour de Georgia and I went to the Olympics. Jonathan continued to find more supporters for our vision; he has a tendency to have bricks of gold land in his lap. Our budget had six digits and our riders got better and better. In 2005 I did time as a DS with the team at Redlands, the Tour of Ireland, and U23 Nationals.

I left, but the program kept rolling. Nine years later, Vaughters’ team is winning races all over the world.
When we started, we were driving a dilapidated old mini van JV bought from a questionable source on credit to cart kids across the country and teach them how to win. Now, Garmin is all pro, with service courses in foreign countries and medical testing and Belgian staff members. It’s a European professional team and nobody shaves their rider’s names into the side of their head when they win a championship (I did this once).

The team now is many steps removed from its humble beginnings. I should have asked for stock options…

Today, Don and I are attempting to create another seed program that will blossom into something bigger. We joined forces with an existing program that is sponsored by companies in the local health food industry.

Getting a new team off the ground is not always easy, but we have good riders lined up and good sponsors to support us. With Don, clothing is taken care of.

The first few training rides have happened, beginning with handshakes and ending with brisk pacelines. Soon the team will be cohesive and results will begin to come.

Our roster is comprised of a mixed group of experienced riders, crusty old pros, and young pups. We even picked up a couple of the nation’s best young riders, until they can get noticed and move on to bigger programs.

The next chapter

The objective of the team this time around is not to end up winning stages of the Tour or to have a private jet. It is sustained development of cycling at the regional level, to allow riders to make the next few steps towards bigger programs. Everyone who really wants it should be on a team with a private jet someday. Our team methodology is low key; we want our riders to learn life lessons, which are valuable in any future career. We want to help these kids be better people as well as better riders.

After a long and storied career, racing in so many countries and in so many different events, I am looking forward to teaching riders a bit of what I have learned. Sometimes one single sentence can have a positive impact on an entire season. Sometimes just riding next to someone can be example enough for him or her to learn from your actions. And sometimes I will still learn from them as well, because cycling is a lifelong sport.

2011 Horizon Organic / Panache Development Cycling Team

Development Roster:

Alex Welch – 24, Denver, Colo. – Former national team member. Winner of HHH crit in ’07, and most aggressive rider in Tour of Pennsylvania ’08

Josh Yeaton – 20, Boulder, Colo. (originally from Adelaide, AUS) – CU student, 7th collegiate road nats 2010, winner stage 1 Morgul Superior Classic stage race 2010.

Spencer Downing – 15, Boulder, Colo. – Cat 3, multiple race wins and podiums in 2010.

Peter Salon – 23, Boulder, Colo. (born in Slovakia) – Cat 1, Garmin-Hollowesko Partners U23 team in 2010. 4th U23 RR champs, 2009, junior national crit champion in ’06

Walker Savidge – 23, Boulder, Colo. – Cat 1, Garmin-Hollowesko Partners U23 team 2010. Walker brings loads of European race experience to the team. 11th Cascade TT 2010, bronze medalist Jr National TT championships.

Mike Bachman – 24, Boulder, Colo. – Cat 2. Pursuing PhD at CU and newly upgraded this season after dominating category 3 events in the Southeast last season.

Tyler Nabours – Cat 2, 23, Boulder, Colo – winner of Steamboat SR and CO RR champion 2010 (cat 3)

Austin Allison – Cat 1, 21, Colorado Springs, Colo. – winner of the Hermann SR and top 10 finisher in stage one of Joe Martin in 2010. 2009 Missouri state road champ.

Don Powell – Team Mentor: Owner and president of Panache Cyclewear, Boulder, Colo. Former pro in Europe (Saxon/ Selle Italia), winner of stages in Killington, Tour of Martinique, and Tour of Adirondacks. Bronze medalist US MTB marathon nationals in 2010 (40-45). Don carved his legs on the rough roads of Belgium as a pro and finished his career in the U.S. with the Saab Professional Cycling Team.

Scott Moninger – Team Mentor: Winningest U.S. racer ever, with over 280 career victories, including virtually every U.S. stage race, NRC champion in  ’92 and ’05, Boulder – Breckenridge RR winner ’00. Former BMC, Health Net, Mercury and Navigators rider. After 17 years as a full-time professional road cyclist, Scott retired at the end of the 2007 season. He now splits his time between coaching, working cycling camps, and traveling the country as Speedplay’s nation brand ambassador. Scott still manages to win races in Colorado on a regular basis and will provide valuable experience and perspective to the young riders on the team.

Colby Pearce – Team Captain: U.S. hour record holder (1995), 14 time national track champion and 2004 Olympian, 8x world championship team member, Pan Am games bronze medalist. Colby also served as USA Cycling track endurance coach from Nov ’05 to May ’07.

Jorge Espinoza – Team Mentor: Former US National Team member, cat 1 racer, 38 years old, Boulder, Colo. Winner of final stage of Breck Epic MTB SR 2009. Masters ST XC national champin 2010. 2 x winner of stages of the FBD Milk Ras Tour of Ireland in ’94.

Nick Traggis – Team Director: Cat 1 racer, Boulder Colo., 33 years old – Coach at Boulder Indoor Cycling, 7x CO state champion on the track.

Tom Roba – Cat 1 racer, 37 years old, Boulder, Colo. – 2010 Colorado Master’s State Crit Champion

Max Clauson – Cat 1 racer, 35 years old, Boulder, Colo. – winner of Aspen crit, Celestial Seasonings crit, and Hugo RR in 2010

Derek Loudermilk – Cat 1 racer, 28 years old, Boulder, Colo. – Former MidWest crit specialist

Horizon Organic, Panache Cyclewear, Bianchi, Third Street Chai, NSS – National Sustainable Sales, Cycle Ops, Fizik, Lazer, Speedplay, Nuun, Chamois Butt’r, Powerbar , Rudi’s Organic Bakery,, I’m Nutrition