The February issue of the Chronicle lamented the end of the bike-racing era in Cornwall in a wonderful piece by Dean Potter (End of an Era). But perhaps all is not yet over here for the sport, as I found out when I interviewed Coach Keith.
Keith Bodwell, or Coach Keith as he is known as in junior cycling circles, has recently founded the Paceline Junior Cycling Team for riders aged 8 to 18, with the goal of not only developing skilled road racers, but also leaders both on and off the bike.
Bicycle touring is my own love, but anything connected with cycling interests me, and so I contacted Keith to find out what the program was all about. Keith himself is a native of Connecticut, and by profession an engineer, ordained Minister, not to mention a keen cyclist. He told me that his involvement with junior road biking began because of the passion his son Colton demonstrated for bicycling. Colton was only 8 years old, living with his family in Pennsylvania at the time, when he started racing in junior cycling leagues. Now 13, Colton is a veteran of many bicycle competitions, not only in Pennsylvania but also on the historic Kissena velodrome in Queens, built in 1962 by Robert Moses.
Returning to his home state two years ago, Keith found that there was an excellent junior road cycling program in place in which Colton could thrive – The Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program (CCAP), a 501(c)3 non-profit, created in 2013 as an answer to the decline in junior participation in cycling. Their aim is to put every child in Connecticut on a bike while providing junior cyclists and their coaches a sustainable, accessible future in the sport.
Back in Cornwall, however, Keith discovered there were no local cycling events; therefore long car drives were necessary for Colton to compete. So what do you think he did? Having trained as a cycling coach with USA Cycling through CCAP, Keith decided that the answer was to found a junior cycling program here in town, the Paceline Junior Cycling Team. Paceline riders will be able to compete in CCAP events across Connecticut and even organize them locally. Colton’s five-year-old brother, Caleb, is already following in his brother’s footsteps and is a very keen cyclist, although he will have to wait until turning 8 to compete.
I was very impressed to learn that CCAP has expanded programming to cover weekly rides, training and events in all four seasons. Spring means mountain biking, there’s road biking in summer, and cyclocross in the fall. During winter months, virtual events are organized using platforms such as Zwift. USA Cycling has also developed a SafeSport program to which CCAP and all its programs subscribe, with the aim of providing a safe and positive environment where young cyclists may develop.
Social distancing and the need for safe, sustainable transport have created a massive boom in bicycle sales, and particularly for e-bikes. In Cornwall we have Cornwall Bridge Electric Bicycle (may it long thrive and prosper), and now the
Paceline Junior Cycling Team program being developed by Keith Bodwell. I am so very proud and pleased at the way cycling is being nurtured in Connecticut, and feel certain that the era of bicycle racing in Cornwall will indeed make a comeback!
📸: Caleb and Keith out riding this winter, Colton (13 years) on bike, his younger brother Caleb (5 years)