As part of our return to sport features we spoke to Alex Aiken who like many of our Breeze champions have undertaken the necessary additional training provided by Welsh Cycling and the Welsh Sports Association to comply with Welsh Government guidelines and support more women to cycle in Wales.
Whilst the pandemic has effected many peoples everyday lives cycling has been one of the activities that has been able to remain in place and whilst Breeze rides were suspended it has been encouraging to see so many new women getting back on a bike and into cycling.
With this in mind Welsh Cycling were keen to ensure our “Breeze Champions” were supported as soon as they felt comfortable and able to restart women’s only group rides.
Like the training that is in place for our groups and clubs this online course was provided by the Welsh Sports Association to help allow a safe return to sport across the sector and we have seen the vast majority of our registered Breeze Champions undertake the training over the past few weeks to facilitate the rides.
In Wales we’ve had to incorporate a few new protocols to our rides to comply with the current Welsh government guidance and legislation - and to keep everyone safe and still have a brilliant time. Some of the new things include asking participants to make a COVID symptom self-assessment before & at the start of the ride, making sure we can feed into the “Test Trace Protect” system with contact details and keeping a 2m social distance throughout. As ride leaders, we have also had specific COVID training from Welsh Cycling and carry out a COVID-Specific Risk Assessment for each ride.
Last week three champions and one of our regular riders set out on our first post training Breeze ride to test the new protocols out and see how they would work on the ground. It was a busy sunny day and we cycled from Plas Menai to Caernarfon airport along the cycle paths and lanes. Some of which are quite narrow so we decided to keep our group size small - which we think worked well. It was a lovely day and we stopped for socially distanced snacks whilst watching the planes and catching up with each other after such a long time apart during lockdown.
For Ride Leaders it may sound like a lot of new things - but its really not much more to undertake and of course vital to ensure everyone’s safety. - And once you’ve done it once it’s much quicker next time round. I found the training and Risk Assessment made you think about how you were going to organise the ride in this new world. I would say to any Champions not sure about doing it - give it a go - there’s lots of help and support from Welsh Cycling if you’re not sure about anything.
The feedback I’ve had from many of my regular Breeze riders is that the new procedures make them feel safer as they know that all the regulations and eventualities have been thought through for a ride.