At Scottish Cycling we know clubs take massive value from hearing from others about the approach they are taking to all aspects of their development – but this is particularly true at this present time as we plan for the return of club cycling activity.
We want to capture club experiences in case studies so that we can share this learning across the club network, and hopefully provide opportunities for clubs to learn from others too. These case studies will make up the #wheelsinmotion series highlighting good practice across the country around getting riders back to action.
For the East & Central instalment of our #WheelsinMotion club case study series, Hamish Cowton, East & Central CDC, caught up with Kate Jackson of Lauderdale CC to hear what they’re doing to support their members’ back to activity post-pandemic.
Since Lauderdale Cycling Club established in 2016, the club is very much a ‘grass roots’ club, providing coached sessions to children of primary school ages. As a club they feel and see the importance and benefits of coaching at an early age. Over the last 12 months, Lauderdale Cycling Club have used the enforced downtime to focus on further developing as a club. Kate acknowledged how important it was to not remain static during this period; there is always room for progress to be made and development to undergo. Lauderdale have spent this time looking at obtaining funding for coaches, leaders, and equipment, with the aim of offering the best possible experience for club members upon their return.
The club have further linked in with contacts in the nearby village of Stow, as plans to develop new cycling routes between the two accelerate. They have also been engaging with the town’s local high school in Earlston, to help obtain funding for coaching so the school can reintroduce cycling as an activity. The other key aspect of Lauderdale’s activity over the last 12 months has involved maintaining communication with members. Using various channels of communication, such as Facebook, email, and WhatsApp, has allowed the club to keep abreast of developments. Moreover, Kate and her fellow committee members have taken the time to get out in person along the streets of Lauder and surrounding villages, to engage with the community and encourage them to get involved with the club upon their return.
Whilst online videoconferencing has allowed us all to keep in touch, Kate believes there is no substitute for genuine social interaction when presenting the club as a welcoming and inviting environment.
Of course, whilst such development is key to the club’s future, all members have been itching to get back on their bikes and get riding again. Kate spoke at length about the importance of the return for its members, noting that ‘normality’ is the new buzzword after the challenges of the last year. Everyone associated with the club has been affected by the regulations enforced because of the pandemic, and everyone has missed the structure provided by the club. Social interaction is the lifeblood of club environments, and particularly for children, being able to interact with friends whilst engaging in physical activity is vital for their personal development.
Cycling clubs provide more than just sport, they are vibrant hubs of chatter and excitement.
For the members of Lauderdale Cycling Club, the return of this social interaction is a major motivating factor to get people back on their bikes and get riding together again. As Kate discussed, there’s nothing better than being able to have a blether on a ride, catch up over a cuppa and a piece of cake, and enjoy the stunning scenery of the Scottish Borders. Naturally, there is some understandable nervousness among members ahead of the return to activity – Kate likened it to reliving your first day at school – but all in all, the excitement is palpable at Lauderdale Cycling Club.
Furthermore, Kate was more than happy to share the club’s top tips ahead of returning to activity.
Above all else, she feels it is vital that clubs work to educate their members on the ‘new normal’. Everyone will need to adapt, and part of this adaptation process involves acknowledging that additional management of things previously taken for granted will be necessary.
Primarily, clubs must accept that the ‘new normal’ brings with it challenges for all involved and must work to make things as easy as possible for participants. For example, Lauderdale work to ensure that kids benefit from familiar faces by having the same coach for each session, by keeping the same groups together, and ideally keeping siblings as part of the same groups.
In addition, the club will introduce membership cards for their junior members to have during all club activities. These cards will hold details such as the member’s name, emergency contacts, medical information, and the details of the club Wellbeing and Protection Officers (WPOs). This initiative is being introduced with the intention of offering reassurance to parents and increasing simplicity of safety and security for kids upon the return to activity.
Additionally, the club will create and disseminate profiles of the WPOs among various social channels. This will allow all members to put faces to names, kids to know who to go to if they need a chat, and parents to feel more comfortable about their children returning to club activity. Finally, the club will continue to utilise various channels such as the community Facebook groups to keep members engaged and encourage ideas and communication from across the community.
This past year has been a long and challenging period for everyone in Scotland, as we have worked to adapt to a new normality and deal with the frequent obstacles presented to us by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as the summer months approach, they bring with them brighter and warmer days. Soon, we will all be back riding our bikes and enjoying the sport we love, and Lauderdale Cycling Club will be at the forefront of this activity.
All of us at Scottish Cycling look forward to supporting the club as they continue their exciting development, and we offer special thanks to Kate Jackson on behalf of the club for her time provided in the development of this article.