There’s a new kid on the block at the start of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. A new UCI Continental team, the Land Rover-ORBEA benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation is a young cycling development team based out of Portland, Oregon with a message. The team is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and to develop talented young cyclists.
Team owners Norrene and David Godfrey who are the brains and heart behind the team have been racing their bikes for many years, and 8 years ago they decided to form a cycling team.
“The history of the creation of this team was to pay Lance back for sending a jersey to my mother who had lung cancer. He sent a jersey that said ‘Fight mom, Lance Armstrong’, a 1999 Tour jersey and to repay him we created a team that would race for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and take the mission out there, to create awareness and to work with young riders.” said co-founder and team director Norrene.
Each year the team raises funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and makes a point to go visits children’s hospitals and schools. And each year the team gives away it’s spot in the Portland LIVESTRONG Challenge to a cancer survivor.
David and Norrene originally started with a women’s cycling team. But they found that they “weren’t good at putting a women’s team together, we couldn’t make it work.”
Then the duo shifted to a men’s team because “David and I are good at is parenting young riders and that’s what we are better at, is U23 men. This is our niche.” explained Norrene.
In the early start of the team, directeur sportif David remembers “getting surprised by getting to know somebody. How great a person they are, how dedicated they are, how self-sacrificing they can be. Finding out all those things that you hope for, when you find them it’s a great thing.”
One of the hardest things to accomplish in the first year was to get the personalities to mesh together. “Having them live and be in the same establishment is the key to having their personalities work together. So instead of flying in and doing a camp, they live together, that’s their camp, so once they get that going then it becomes easy.” said Norrene.
With cyclists from the United States, New Zealand and Canada, the development team is made up of 11 riders with 7 at or under the age of 23.
The couple has learned that bringing a rider up to the pro ranks is typically a three-year affair. Some riders never make it to the third year.
The first year is the “mess up year.”
“They don’t have a clue as to what is going on, they’re strong and they don’t get it, they learn the radios and all that stuff.” said Norrene about the first year.
The second year is the “spotty year.”
“They have moments of glory, their name is out there and then they won’t finish a race for a month or something.” said David.
“And then they get really down and ask themselves why am I doing this, and this is the part where they have to work through that.” continued Norrene.
And then success on the third year. “Then the next year, they get their success by they know what is going on, they know what to expect and then they can win races.” finished Norrene.
For David, the third year is also about confidence. “That feeling that you belong there and the feeling that you can do it and having that confidence changes the way you race a little bit.”
When they first started the team, David and Norrene advertised the fact that they were looking for riders and “were inundated with resumes.” But in 2008, the team was build solely through references, the riders had to be recommended by previous members of the team.
“It’s personalities, they know how the team functions and how they work so it’s finding the right personalities to work.” said Norrene who also explained that the riders were also protective of the couple.
And they are also in contact with a connection in the Bike New Zealand selection team. “We also have a guy over in New Zealand, one of the kids’ dad is on Bike New Zealand selection team and he is consistently looking for riders to come here and that’s how we got Roman, we’ve been watching him for 18 months and when he was ready to go, he was ready to come over.”
As for their roles on the team, both David and Norrene briefly and quickly said “mom and dad.” A big part of what they do is also preparing the riders to go into the world as responsible adults.
“It’s a big part of what we do, it isn’t just about how fast you go on the bike, it’s personalities, it’s being a leader, what it means to be a leader, try to be more involved into developing them as people.” said David.
A lot of hard work but it’s also fun.
“It’s the little things that keep us going. I got mother’s day’s cards even from the guys that have moved on to other teams. Going to the hospitals, watching the guys do well.” smiled Norrene.
The team roster for the Redlands Bicycle Classic is Josh Bartlett (USA), Jim Camut (USA), Logan Hunn (NZL), Carson Miller (USA), Bobby Sweeting (USA), Ryan Taylor (CAN), Aaron Tuckerman (NZL) and Roman Van Uden (NZL)
On March 24, the 8 riders spent much of their afternoon visiting with young patients at the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
Follow the team through it’s facebook fanpage.