On the 3rd July 2009, British Cycling's Go-Ride Coaches launched cycling at Hardenhuish School in Chippenham, Wiltshire.
Hardenhuish is one of many schools who have used funding from "Funding Sport in the Community" (Formally: Awards for All) to get a grant for everything needed to kick start and maintain cycling as a healthy, fun and competitive activity for all it's pupils.
Hardenhuish was able to access £10k of funding to buy a fleet of mountain bikes and helmets, training for its staff and funding to enable pupils to visit and take part in sessions at specialist cycling facilities such as Newport Velodrome.
The whole project has been something that has taken several months of planning and negotiating between the school, British Cycling and the local Clubmark accredited Go-Ride Club, Chippenham Wheelers. All 3 parties have worked hard to ensure that all the steps are in place to enable young people in Chippenham to have a well defined pathway into the sport of cycling. Maybe the programme will find the next big star for the UK in the sport which has reached unparallel success in recent years at the World Championships, Olympic Games and now the Tour de France.
The launch kicked off with a talk from rising star James Spragg, who is a professional rider with the Marco Polo Cycling Team on the continent. James answered many questions from the pupils on the sport of cycling as well as giving them advice on how they too can work towards becoming a pro. After all, James was the same age as many of the young people involved when he was spotted by British Cycling Coaches, then with the support of his local club in Devon, he was propelled into the sport at national level.
Following James' insight into the world of professional cycling the pupils were excited to hear that they would be taking part in a mixture of cycling races, similar to that seen at the Olympic Games. Lead by Go-Ride Regional Coach, Dan Coast and volunteers from the Chippenham Wheelers, the pupils were joined by several other local primary school pupils before being put into 4 equal teams. Each team was named after gold winning members of the GB Olympic Team such as Victoria Pendleton, Chris Hoy, Rebecca Romero and Bradley Wiggins. The riders were then lead onto the field to be shown the Hardenhuish Velodrome...?
Ok! So it wasn't exactly what was seen at the Olympics, with steep banked wooden turns, but the miniature version made up with plastic cones allowed the riders to get a feel for what racing on a velodrome would be like.
The first event to take place was a version of a Keirin in which British riders, Chris Hoy and Ross Edgar scooped Gold and Silver for Team GB in Beijing. The adapted version of the event transpired with a bunch of riders who were controlled by a pacer, the pacer then dropped out to allow the riders to sprint to the line, the last rider across the line was eliminated, this process was repeated until 3 riders remained to race for the win. This type of racing brings out key skills in a rider such as braking, acceleration, gear selection, as well as riding in a tight bunch and of course tactics.
Overall the riders scored points for their teams depending on where they finished in each event, it was apparent at the end of the Keirin, that we had a very tight competition on our hands.
The final race for the pupils was a Cyclo-Cross race. The course at Hardenhuish included a section of tarmac, a gravel Pathway, a steep descent and climb through a tree lined crater, as well as a gradual grassy climb to the race finish. The race followed a team relay format with the riders having to dismount and pass the bike onto their next rider, a skill in itself when your racing as fast as you can.
At the end of the race, that took riders around 1 minute each to complete, there were some very tired faces just showing the level of commitment the riders had given for their teams, you can't ask for more than that!
At the end of the day's racing, congratulations went to Victoria Pendleton's Team who were presented with the Gold medals and certificates from James Spragg. All the riders were presented with certificates for taking part in what was a brilliant day of cycling action.
Chippenham Wheelers run weekly training sessions at nearby Castle Combe on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 18:00. For more information on the club sessions and what the club does for riders of all ages; please contact the club chairman; Andy Cook on 01249 653845