Last night I made it out to one of Dartmouth's team seminars. Now that I am living one town away from these guys I might as well interact. This was the first of a weekly seminar series on bike racing. At least this seminar seemed geared towards newer bike racers. It also seems like the kids can get PE credit for going to the seminar series.
I was blown away not only by the people presenting, but by the attention that was directed at them. The talk included nutrition, race explanations, specific warmups and cold weather clothing. All of the information seemed really on point and well received.
Many teams simply let their new riders undergo a trial by fire. Start riding with the team and you will pick up what you need to know. I doubt that this is a conscious choice by team leaders, it is most likely the product of indifference or simply an overworked schedule that doesn't include time for new riders. having attended one of these meetings I think that teams could greatly benefit from running series like these.
When a new rider approaches the team about joining them they are taking a risk. If the best you can offer them as a safety line is that there is an intro category, the uncertainty and shroud of mystery that surrounds bike racing is still pretty heavy. If on the other hand you are able to talk about how the team runs a 3-5 week long seminar series that breaks down different aspects of racing, you are giving that person something tangible. This enables them to approach he race season armed with some knowledge.
Does this make people better racers? Who knows. Maybe. But I will tell you what it does. It makes retention of the the kid who casually talks to you (team member) about racing that much more likely to really get into it. Teams prosper and thrive based on the numbers of racers they have, and this is a great way to build your team.