2014 is my third year of promoting the cycle track at Bournemouth to Youth and schools. As the first outdoor banked track in the U.K seasonal availability is a factor which means the bulk of the schools work is in Summer Term. 7 Years of working with schools in the conurbation means I have some established contacts, although with schools staff changing many of these teachers I have worked for change schools- and it takes them time to re-establish my credentials with their new school. In Bournemouth there are still many local primaries that have never been inside the track, despite being within a mile of the centre. Early visits this year in June were from Dumpton far away in Dorset, again they bought 30 children to try out fixed gear track cycling for the first time, their words to me after were “Dear Jason, Thankyou very much for hosting us at the Bournemouth Velodrome. We had a great time trying out the track bikes. We were amazed at how fast we could go and it gave us a really good insight into how difficult it must be for the professional cyclists we see on TV all the time” Dumpton Year 8
Soon after Wey Valley came along from Weymouth, and began their annual accreditation series, the school has been the source of some of the most promising riders now racing in the National realm. All U.K velodromes have a set curriculum of skills that have to be demonstrated before riders are allowed to enter open events and training sessions, the nature of brakeless bike riding requires this to enable session managers guarantee of participants safety during activities. My program includes activities that enable youth to understand track specific bikes, clothing and the track environment. They learn to handle fixed gear bike demonstrating ability to control speed, getting on and off bike and entering/leaving track correctly. They learn riding in a string etiquette and changing positions in that string of other riders and manage stacking activities, and completing speed drills between groups. These elements all combine to enable confident bunched riding activities, endurance type events. Students also learn held start technique and nature of timed sprint activities. Ringwood school also came for an accreditation series of 5 sessions, their second year of enrichment activities for the Year 7’s (with all these year groups just add 5 to find out the age of the kids)
More Schools this year visited the track for taster sessions. Generally an hour long where the riders get the flavour of the banked track and riding fixed gear for the first time. Four other local schools Ferndown, L.E.A.F Academy , St Lukes and St Edwards brought 161 children all up , many during their activities week for a special visit. The difference of ability in these sessions is incredible, some groups are raring to go and will all make it up around the banking within the hour, whereas others need much more gentle persuasion and coaching to gain confidence with their friends- its always interesting as even within the same year group ages there are huge differences. One of the biggest things these children learn is actually learning to ride in a team, as no-one wants the drama of falling off, having feet strapped onto the pedals engenders a better group ethic which Im sure is part of the value for them. Often after I have explained the way to slow down the bike with no brakes, groups are quiet and concentrated, but within minutes of working it out practically, the smiles and whooping begin. All good, in previous years there have been higher numbers with a bigger total of schools and I would aspire for those who come to come back again, before I worked freelance it was easier co-ordinating schools visits when working full time for a charity!, but its still the most rewarding job in the world.
Last mention is of my Glenmoor Girls on Track year. Brought about by a successful bid to Active Dorset Sportivate this work is focused on finding the next Laura Trott’s who study next door at part of the Winton and Glenmoor complex. We have mainly engaged year 9 girls and with help of the P.E staff brought them the adventure of track riding for the first year. This work will continue in Autumn term, with the group signed up for something before they have started at the school. I engaged with them at the new school visits, for a taster session- which was really cool as many of the faces I had taught before in previous playground cycling sessions, so we had already met making the ice-breaking start very easy. Early signs are showing enthusiastic girls, some of whom are already competing in sport so let see who turns up, could be the next National star. My total teaching numbers for this summer are 341 youth and junior riders. Bournemouth velodrome has still a great deal of room for increasing engagement so if you’ve liked this summer and work in schools info do get in touch or pass on. Enjoy the Holiday Rest!