East Bradford CC at the Tour of Britain
It all started with one e-mail. Would our Go Ride club like to compete in an Italian Pursuit competition for U12's on the finishing straight at York just before the Tour of Britain riders came in? What a silly question! We were falling over kids who were desperate to represent our club on the day and we had to think of a fun way of choosing a team of just four.
Armed with an excellent but slightly complicated looking session plan with lots of pretty colours we set to. We first marked out the course as per the session plan in two places on our road circuit at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre in Bradford. Over the course of the summer holidays at our Saturday morning club we then held a series of training sessions with kids of all ages from four upwards, even the 16 - 14 year olds had a go. From there we started to think about our team and looked at speed around the course, technical ability, teamwork and most importantly of all, the willingness to have a go.
We held trials with different teams of kids and eventually came up with eight kids, six boys and two girls, all under 12. Just as we were about to make the very hard decision as to who should be in the team, along came another e-mail asking if we wanted to put another team in. This was such a relief as one of the hardest jobs a coach can have is to disappoint a child after all their hard work.
Now came the decision as to who would be in each team. Rather than make the obvious choice to have the fastest in one team, I decided to make up two teams of equal ability to give both of them a good chance on the day and each team had about three chances to practice before the event.
Our competition was at the first stage of the Tour in York and the day dawned bright and sunny. Not only did we have two teams but two more East Bradford kids would be racing to help out another team in the competition. The nervous kids were fitted out with mountain bikes by the British Cycling Go Ride coaches and led out to the course on the finishing straight in front of the Yorkshire crowds. The five teams then battled it out to see who would get through to the finals to the roar of the cheering crowds.
I can't tell you how proud I was of those kids when both East Bradford teams won their heats and got through to an all East Bradford final. We got first and second place with the smallest of margins between the two teams in the final race. All the kids showed superb sportsmanship on the day.
Who knows, these kids are the competitors of the future and may themselves race at the Tour of Britain. Finally, what the kids thought of the day East Bradford raced in the (mini) Tour of Britain:
Hannah Banks "exciting and really happy we won even though I felt nervous at the start."
Euan Cameron "really fun, but nervous but felt good with crowd cheering."
York Holden " It was a great atmosphere with everyone cheering. It was great fun and I enjoyed It!"
Billy Lazenby "felt really good with the crowd cheering."
Ella Lazenby "Nervous but so exciting at the end. I rode better with the loud music! It was great taking part."
Alex Marker "We won! Lots of support from the crowd but not enough biscuits! I was fourth to race and felt nervous."
Georgia Marker "The crowd was really loud and made me feel a little nervous but after the practice I knew we were going to do well - came second overall and I got to meet Bradley Wiggins."
Joe Parker "It felt brilliant racing in front of the crowd."
Keir Smith "Really pleased as it was my first race in front of a huge crowd on the home straight of the Tour of Britain."
Thomas Wilson "Felt proud of myself because I never raced in an event like this."
They came back to club the following week still excited by the day. Thanks to all the organisers of the competition and the BC staff for a grand day out. Thanks to my fellow coaches at East Bradford for helping especially Paul, who blagged lots of goodies for the kids from the ToB teams, but most of all, a big thanks to all the kids and parents who worked so hard.