Following the awe-inspiring and world beating performances of our star riders this summer, the pressure has been on to fully harness the unprecedented levels of enthusiasm for cycling.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people young and old have been contacting British Cycling asking ‘How can I get started?’ To meet the demand, there are programmes in place for all ages and while Breeze, Sky Ride or the events calendar are the first port of call for adults, Go-Ride and more specifically the Go-Ride Games has been the initiative for Under 16s.
With the provison of providing an open door event suitable for youngsters new to cycling, our work with Go-Ride clubs up and down the country resulted in over 120 events taking place in a 10-day period in all four corners of England, Scotland and Wales.
The first events kicked off on the penultimate day of the Olympics, and by the time the flame had been extinguished in the Olympic Park, hundreds of under 16s had already took to their bikes and cycled with a club for the first time through a Go-Ride Games event.
The enthusiasm continued throughout the week, with clubs making the most of the school holidays to attract potential new young members through mixed activities of Olympic-themed racing, coaching sessions and club open day activities. The momentum was maintained with a little help from the national media and culminated in an incredible closing weekend where thousands of kids turned up at events nationwide.
Ensuring the clubs are primed and prepared for the sudden influx in eager new enthusiasts has been a year-long project for British Cycling, and one that has been humbling in its success for Development Manager, Andrew Chaston.
He said: “The clubs have worked incredibly hard over the past weeks and months to ensure there events are as good as they could possibly be, and it is great to see their commitment and dedication pay off with great attendances up and down the country.
“We have been overwhelmed by the number of young people that are looking to get into cycle sport and the work to keep them involved is ongoing.
“The Go-Ride Games have been great at providing people new to the sport with a way in, it is now our job to help clubs maintain the interest through our ongoing Go-Ride programme which works to constantly evolve and improve the sport from the grass roots level up.”
There are still a handful of Go-Ride Games events to come throughout August, but Go-Ride clubs are active all year round, so if you’re under 16 or have children who are, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved with your local clubs.
Olympic Gold medallist Ed Clancy, who has been a long-time advocate of the club structure having entered the sport through his local club, Holme Valley Wheelers, said recently: “Riding with a club is the best way to learn new skills and improve as a rider so get down to your nearest event and see how you get on!
“I’m sure you’ll love it!”
For a full list of Go-Ride clubs, visit our club finder, or contact the Go-Ride team direct. Whichever club you find, you’re likely to find a welcoming and hard-working group of club volunteers, without whom the sport wouldn’t be able to operate.
“The final words have to be those of a massive ‘thank you’ to all the clubs for supporting us in our plans this summer,” added Andrew Chaston.
“We are constantly amazed by the dedication we witness from club volunteers up and down the country and it is their efforts which give us huge optimism for the health of the sport.”
Certainly, it is hard to dispute that cycling has ever been in better health than now, and with so many youngsters coming into the sport through the Go-Ride and Go-Ride Games programmes, these are exciting times for everyone involved in the sport.