Go Ride Racing in Middlesbrough
Event: 11th May 2009, Redcar & Cleveland Off-Road Centre
Report and Images: Eddie Allen
Above: Go-Ride Racing gives entry level riders the thrill of competition
Go-Ride Racing hit the North East back in April with events running fortnightly throughout the summer at the Redcar & Cleveland Off Road Centre. We were there for round 4 of the series on Monday 11th May to report on the evening's action.
Above: The handicap system produced some tight finishes
Go-Ride Racing is an exciting new addition to the Go-Ride programme in 2009, aiming to bridge the gap between Go-Ride coaching activities and Regional Youth racing. Many young people attend Go-Ride coaching activities at both clubs and schools and before long, acquire the confidence and skills to progress into competition. However, such is the high standard of Youth racing, leaping straight into regional level competition can be an intimidating experience, with the bar for skills, fitness and professionalism set pretty high.
Above: The traffic free venue provided a safe environment for young riders to compete
Go-Ride Racing was therefore devised to act as in intermediate step, an inclusive, friendly, non-intimidating 'toe-in-the-water', and judging by the breadth of riders involved on Teesside, this pilot event hit all the buttons.
Above: One of the youngest competitors on the track gets some support from Mum
The evening saw 83 riders enrol for two hours of fun competition. The youngest rider rolled up at the start line on a pink Barbie bike complete with stabilisers and silver handlebar tassles. They were joined by newcomers of all ages on mountain bikes, BMXs and hybrids, together with slightly more experienced riders on road bikes.
Above: The racing format meant that all riders were able to take part in rewarding racing
The format of the evening was simple. There were two 'qualifier' events, the timed Go-Ride Skills Test and Time Trial on the closed circuit. Each rider, regardless of age and ability, competed in both events. There followed some intense and mind blowing mathematics by the event organisers, the outcome of which decided the grid in a series of one, two and three lap handicap races out on the circuit.
Above: One of Cleveland Wheeler's regulars shows how it's done in the Skills Test, one of the qualifiers for the handicap road race that followed
The handicap seeding worked a treat, with the finest riders in each race giving their all to try to catch new riders, leading to some thrilling finishes. The contrast between the two qualifying elements (Skills Test and Time Trial) meant that riders had to have both speed and bike handling skills.
Above: One of the handicap races gets underway
The venue itself is ideal for the Go-Ride Racing concept. Redcar & Cleveland Off Road Centre, or Teesside Autodrome as it is also known is a closed road motor racing circuit with a multitude of course options. A short flat loop allows coaches and parents to keep sight of younger riders at all times while a longer, hillier loop gives older or more able riders a sterner test. The venue boasts a cafe, which did a roaring trade in tea and cakes, keeping riders' parents happy and warm while they watched and cheered their youngsters on.
Above: Each race was drawn dependent on rider's results in the Time Trial and Skills Test
At the end of the event was a short presentation, where British Cycling's Senior Development Officer (Coaching & Competition) Dan Small, who is instrumental in developing the Go-Ride Racing programme, presented prizes to the winners of each race, before the event drew to a close.
I caught up with Dan who was delighted with the way the event had gone: "This has been a fantastic event and it is great to see so many enthusiastic young riders really embracing the competition. The whole concept of Go-Ride Racing is quite simple; we are trying to create a stepping stone to Regional Competition for inexperienced young riders. Events such as this will gradually be popping up all over the country and based on the number of riders here tonight it is clear that the programme has the potential to make a significant impact on a national scale".
Above: Riders were cheered on by parents in the final road race
Peter Root, Regional Development Manager said: "The Go-Ride Racing League 2000 events provide a much needed opportunity for young riders to get into the sport. It provides an ideal stepping stone up to regional level racing in a manner which allows young people to learn the fundamentals of riding a bike race before being pitted against more experienced opposition. Steve Binks, Norman Bielby and the team from Cleveland Wheelers have been instrumental in establishing a strong format for the events on Teesside which allow all competitors to measure their achievement on a week by week basis, both against themselves and others and gain that all important experience."
Related: What is Go-Ride Racing?