How many hours should an underage rider do per week?

A question I’ve often heard put to the A1 coaching team is ‘how many hours should an underage rider do per week?”
I’m sure there might be a scientific answer as to the optimum amount of hours that each age group should do and at what intensities to become the best cyclist they can possibly be. Obviously there are a huge amount of variables such as gender, level of development etc.
A good example of this is current professional rider for Cannondale Drapac, Ryan Mullen. I’ve raced with Ryan since I was underage.
I remember lining up at one of my first races and seeing Ryan on the start line. I was sure my Dad had entered me into the wrong race. Ryan was built like a 25 year old. He was probably close to 6 foot and had muscles on top of muscles.
Then there was me, I was small and let’s just say I was carrying a lot of puppy fat at that age!
Even though Ryan and I were the same age, I wouldn’t have been able to do half the training he was capable of doing, simply because my body hadn’t developed enough. Even up until second year junior I still hadn’t developed fully.
The question of ‘how much training did I do when I was underage versus how many hours did Ryan Mullen do when he was underage?’, probably has two very different answers. However I can almost guarantee there is one common denominator: we did as much as we enjoyed doing.
Personally I think that is the answer. There is no set number of hours or intervals. The most important thing at underage is that the kid builds a healthy relationship with the sport and enjoys every minute of it!
As a kid I never had any of the flash tech. I rode an aluminium bike with a basic Cateye computer (to brag out how many kilometres I did when I got home). There was no, intervals power meters, carbon fibre, aero helmets or flashy kit.
I rode the bike because I wanted to. I thought it was great fun and no matter how bad I was, it didn’t matter I just loved riding my bike around places most of my friends didn’t even know existed.
As a result I built up a really good relationship with cycling. It is my escape from the real world. It was a life saver during college exams as it was the perfect way to clear my head and relax. Generally when I go cycling I come home with a smile on my face… most of the time.
This relationship with cycling meant when things started to click and I started getting results in the sport, training was no chore. I loved going on my bike and training was rarely any problem. I was capable of training hard and enjoying it.
As a kid, hours on the bike don’t matter. Simply staying fit, healthy and happy will suffice. All kids should have an opportunity to try out any sport they are interested in. An underage cycling should be involved in other sports too. If anything they will act as a form of cross training to take the focus away from cycling and help them develop physically.
Look at Eddie Dunbar; could potentially have been a cross country runner or even our very own Anthony Walsh; played Football for Bohemian FC before cycling.
Build a good relationship with sport and a kids sporting future will be bright.
There’s no secret formula or training program, often it’s just a mentality!
Ps. If you haven’t checked out Buggles lastest Vlog here you go!
We both lash out some strength efforts on our favourite local hill.

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