Team Rokform was a Rok solid choice for USA Cycling's 2013 Junior Club of the Year


By Dave Gaylinn
The lengths parents will go to for their children are astounding. Choosing between work and family is a common occurrence. Spending significant amounts of money on college tuition, a car or a wedding is also born out of the love a parent harbors for a child.
The team's 2014 group photo
The team's 2014 group photo
Running a cycling team? That is the genesis of USA Cycling's three-time junior club of the year, Team Rokform Junior Development.

Jeff Shein was unable to find a junior team for his 12-year-old son with which to ride closer to his home than Los Angeles. After making the 90-minute drive one way for a year, the elder Shein sought riding and training opportunities for his son closer to their home in Orange County. They joined the newly developed Team Velosport Juniors (club name of the present-day Team Rokform). After just one year, their team manager decided to leave to start a different team. Jeff volunteered to run the Velosport program, and with the help of other parents, worked to save the fledgling junior team.
What started as a small, six-member team in Orange County in 2008 has grown into one of the country’s strongest developmental clubs with 83 members spanning the spectrum of junior cycling.
“It was six members and each year, it just grew and grew and grew,” Shein explained. “At least 30 percent more members every year. I guess we’re doing something that people like. Each year, I think there’s just no way there could be more people out there. Through the website we keep getting more inquiries. I promptly respond to them and invite them to the rides. They come on a ride and immediately sign up. That’s how the program basically grew.”
Team Rokfo
Team Rokform toes the line for a UCI stage race in Belgium.
Team Rokform toes the line for a UCI stage race in Belgium.
rm does plenty right. The program offers its riders several unique opportunities. After watching several of its best riders leave to join elite-level programs, Rokform developed its own pathway for 14 riders to compete at the elite level. Shein’s son, now 20, is also putting the final pieces in place to create a U23 program for its riders to continue competing after they age out of the junior ranks.
Considering the club’s humble beginnings, winning three club of the year designations from USA Cycling is truly remarkable. In addition to bragging rights, the clubs of the year receive a trophy and complimentary renewal fees from USA Cycling. Winning clubs are chosen for exhibiting excellence in several areas including race promotion, membership composition, instructional clinics and seminars, club activities, charity work, and race performance.
“(Winning USA Cycling’s Club of the Year) the first year it was just an amazing thing,” Shein said. “In my mind, club of the year means the top elite clubs of the United States. We were really focused more on the developmental side, the younger juniors and so forth. We didn’t have an elite team. We weren’t winning much. We didn’t have all our kids being snatched up by USA Cycling to go to Europe, but we were still doing the right things. We won the first year, we won the second year, we won the third year and now we’ve developed these other programs. Thanks to the support we get from our great sponsors, I have the resources to keep adding some new twists and creative things to the program.”
Since the club’s riders hadn’t been selected to compete with the USA Cycling National Development Program, Shein, in 2012, created an opportunity for Rokform’s riders to go to Europe to measure up against some of the world’s best junior riders. The group heads to Europe for three weeks over the summer, competes in the Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich – a UCI 2.1 stage race in Belgium, watches a stage of the Tour de France from the side of the road, rides historic cobblestone stretches of European races, visits historic cities like Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Paris while learning a bit of European culture. Additionally, Shein has partnered with a Belgian team, which has offered an opportunity for the Rokform riders that have displayed the ability to hack it in European racing to stay in Europe at minimal additional cost.
One of th
The team takes a trip to the velodrome.
The team takes a trip to the velodrome.
e riders afforded that opportunity in 2014 was 18-year-old Sean Bird, who dreamt of competing in Europe. Bird battled some bad luck on the rain-slicked roads in Belgium to prove he is capable of riding in Europe.
“It was the afternoon of day 3 and I guess stage 5 would have been the next day,” Bird explained. “It was raining, heavy wind, certainly nothing that Southern California riding has prepared me for. Going into a 90-degree, left hand turn, my front wheel was taken out by another rider who, I guess was trying to clear his brakes from all of the rain that was coming down. He hit my front wheel and took that out. I got a wheel change because my front wheel was out of true and was rubbing on the brakes, eventually that led to getting a bike change. I was chasing through the caravan for the next 10 or 15 minutes on a spare bike. I was probably about 50-to-75 meters behind the main group on the road going into a gradual, left-hand turn. I lost it in the turn on the rain-soaked roads, which I was very bummed about. That was certainly a disappointment.”
While Bird may have been disappointed with his luck that day, his seven-week experience in Europe did not let him down. He ultimately raced in 18 kermesses and interclub events, scoring some great finishes including a fourth place at Kasterlee, Belgium on June 29, besting the Belgian national champion, Enzo Wouters, by 16 seconds.
In addition to European racing opportunities, Team Rokform is producing stellar results domestically. Chazmichael Morales was among the riders selected to don the red, white and blue at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Seoul, South Korea in August. Morales contested the men’s individual pursuit. Twelve-year-old Alex Lochmiller, himself a national champion on the track, topped his age group’s standings to win the SoCal Cup – a series of road races, criteriums, time trials and stage races in Southern California.
“Team Rokform is great because they’re at all of the races,” Lochmiller said. “They’re always enthused and all energy and supportive. Most of the time, there’s lot of people. Racing with your friends and knowing that it’s competitive, but in the end, there’s no hard feelings to anyone. It’s all fun.”
To teach the riders the skills necessary to compete, Team Rokform holds camps and organizes rides. The team’s road camp was held a three-hour drive away in Santa Maria. The camp, modeled after USA Cycling’s Talent ID Camps, even qualifies for USA Cycling upgrade points. It spans three days over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend and offers skills-drills, time trials, lectures, lots of group ride time and fun.
All of this stemming from a parent’s love for his child.

This Article Updated October 16, 2014 @ 10:03 PM For more information contact: