Twenty members of the Paralyzed Veterans Racing Team gathered in Brooksville, Fla., February 3-7, 2014, to measure and improve their handcycling skills as part of the Winter Invitational Training Camp.
Roughly 16 to 20 riders participated in each day of the camp, which included one long endurance ride as well as a recovery ride. Camp participants also had the opportunity to work with a trainer and undergo a lactate test to measure their level of fitness.
Jody Shiflett, adaptive cycling program consultant at Paralyzed Veterans of America, said the goal of the winter camp is to help as many veterans on the team qualify for the Department of Veterans Affairs Military Standard this racing season, which kicked off earlier this month in Melbourne, Fla.
The VA’s Military Standard offers stipends ranging from $480 to $800 per month to disabled veteran athletes who qualify in a 15 kilometer time trial race sanctioned by USA Cycling and certified by a race director. The monthly stipend helps athletes with training, coaching and travel, and ultimately helps them improve to the next level, Shiflett said.
“The stipend is used as a springboard to get veterans to the next level, which would be representing the USA in international competition,” Shiflett said. “That’s our goal as a team to get as many of our racers qualified for that.”
The winter training camp helped several racers better understand the process of qualifying for the Military Standard, and emphasized the importance of professional coaching, training and goal-setting for racers wishing to advance to that next level. For most, that involves establishing a goal and training plan that in most cases takes six months or more to prepare for, Shiflett said.
“What was covered was the importance of making sure racers have a plan that is professionally administered,” he said. “You may go 40 miles, but if you have someone who coaches you, you are better prepared for your goal. It’s possible that racers could not be using their time wisely by not being coached.”
Paralyzed Veterans Racing thanks Mark and Linda Power for their maintenance and security support throughout the winter training camp.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans Racing
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.