Young's Training Center gives any cyclist a state-of-the-art training experience

Ride your own virtual Tour de France  Credit: Doug Pensinger/Allsport
SANTA ANA, Calif. - Ride different stages of the Tour de France. See the crowds lining the streets.

Mountain bike an off-road course. Feel the strain of an uphill climb, the ease of a downhill coast.

Pedal around the high banks of an Olympic velodrome. Take advantage of drafting another rider.

Receive Olympic-caliber coaching. Ride against the world's best cyclists. Compete in riding competitions.

Whether you are Olympic material, or a Greg LeMond wannabe, or a couch potato interested in cycling, you don't need to travel far to experience these riding adventures or enjoy world-class coaching.

No, all are obtainable at the back of CycleWerks Bike Shop in Santa Ana. In a two-story converted warehouse is a cycling training facility that surpasses any other, even the one at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Young's Training Center opened two weeks ago for the curious and serious cyclist. It offers state-of-the-art computer simulators featuring a variety of virtual reality rides and riding contests, and something called SpinScan that measures a rider's efficiency while pedaling.

This taste of Olympic training is brought to you by Roger Young, whose credentials come heavily stamped with the Olympic logo.

Young, 47, of Newport Beach, has coached two U.S. Olympic Cycling Teams (`92 and `98), one Canadian Olympic Cycling Team (`96), six National Cycling Teams and two Canadian National Cycling Teams.

As a rider, he won seven National Championships and a Pan Am Games gold medal, and made two Olympic teams.

Young also was responsible for creating coaching systems and educating coaches in USA Cycling, an organization in which Young remains in close contact.

In fact, USA Cycling is looking at Youngs Training Center as a means of scouting for future talent, using it as a Center for Excellence.

"We can put (potential candidates) through a standard race and physiological test here that simulates racing, and send that data to the national team so they could scout for new talent," Young said. "Anybody can come in and see how they rate (against the top riders)."

Young said several other training centers like his would be opened in various parts of the country. The idea is to give the identical test at each of these centers and USA Cycling would recruit the top riders.

"They want to see what our results are going to be before they really jump into it," Young said.

While the center's focus is on racing, it caters to every level of rider from beginner to advanced. The center will develop a program to suit a rider's needs.

Want to know how to train properly? YTC will show you. Want to work out like an Olympic cyclist? YTC will show you. Want to learn the proper technique for pedaling uphill or downhill? YTC will show you.

"Just like there are different ways of pitching a baseball, there are different ways of pedaling and they all have a purpose," Young said. "We teach ways of pedaling for uphill, for flat, for downhill, for off-road."

Just as Tiger Woods knows every detail of his swing, cyclists can learn the technical aspects of pedaling.

"I thought I knew quite a bit about cycling," Dean Wickstrom, 60, of Corona del Mar said. "It's incredible what he knows and how much you learn, and how much better a cyclist you become."

The YTC staff includes Brenda Brashears, 34, a certified athletic trainer and licensed massage therapist who was a former national caliber rider; Basil Milsal, 20, a five-time national champion in track racing who is aspiring to make the 2004 Olympics; and Young's wife, Connie Paraskevin-Young, 39, a four-time World Cycling Champion and five-time Olympian in cycling and speed skating.

The training equipment is as first-class as the staff. Enjoy a virtual reality ride on the Sydney Olympic road course or even a mountain bike ride on the moon. A display screen in front of the handlebars gives a 3-D look of your ride. The computer adjusts the tension on the pedals to simulate climbs or descents.

Training in virtual reality means never worrying about rain, traffic or being held up by red lights. It means competing in events at your convenience.

Currently, the YTC is holding a virtual reality stage race that runs through Aug.15 and offers up to $10,000 worth of prizes. Performed poorly the first time? Do it again.

Another feature of the center is the YTC Fantasy Tour, a sort of frequent-rider program that awards riders with prizes for the numbers of miles ridden. This is where you can race a stage of the Tour de France.

Group cycling workout sessions, circuit training and weight training are available, too, as well as personal training. It's not just for cyclists. Workouts can be developed for triathletes as well.

Listen to our April 25 interview with Roger Young on the Sports You Do Show

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