Platinum Profile - Declan

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Club - Stockton Wheelers

Q: What level are you currently at on the Cycling Award for Young Volunteers Programme?

A: Gold Level Award.

Q: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

A: The people I get to work with, and the opportunities I get from being involved with the club.

Q: How do you think being a volunteer has helped you?

A: It has helped me work effectively as part of a team and have a flexible approach to situations.

Q: Is there anything that you would change about your volunteering experience?

A: I would do more volunteer work.

Q: Where would you like your volunteering to take you in the future?

 A: Possibly into a career in cycling or a volunteer in another sport as well.

Declan's second blog coming soon...

Blog one: Prissick Go-Ride

Date: 16/09/2012


An event was being hosted at Prissick and Stockton Wheelers were asked to set up a stall with an event for visitors, I was asked to help with this. I saw this as a good opportunity to get in some volunteering hours and gain some experience but also to represent the club at an event.


    The stall we set up was in a prominent location and bound to be noticed, which was good news. We arrived early to set up. We had 2 wattbikes, the plan was to let people ride on them, but from events where wattbikes had been used before, I’d noticed sometimes people stay on for a long time. This stop other people having a go and they eventually lose interest and walk away. To overcome this I suggested that we get riders to ride steady for a minute then do a 12 second sprint, seated or otherwise and see what the max wattage they could achieve.  One of the club coaches set an early bench mark of 785, which he quickly beat with 815.

            Then people began to arrive for the event and had a go on the wattbikes. Any results that set a new bench mark were recorded and eventually the benchmark was set to 1250 watts. The same rider then topped that with 1252 watts, much to their delight. A comment was made about marginal gains, which get laughs and reflected the atmosphere: happy; laidback; competitive; and friendly.


   And this got me thinking, what is it making people so happy? Everyone seemed to be happy, perhaps it was the cakes on sale (for charity) or the event being held, the physicality of getting on a bike in jeans and t-shirt and competing with friends. I don’t know really, but it reminded me why I enjoy cycling, why so many other people like cycling and why I volunteered to help. Because people genuinely care about every little event up and down the country, no matter what weather people will come and people will enjoy it.

Blog 3: Stockton Cycling Festival

This was a great day; the event itself was big, bigger than anything as close to home as I’d seen. I was there representing the club, and with other members from the club advertised the club.

Interest in the club was good, with many people enquiring about membership and sessions which is great! We also ran the gear check, this was to make sure that youth riders were not using a gear bigger than the restrictions allow. This activity died down once the youth racing started, which meant there were more people from the club able to speak to passers-by. I enjoyed it and the weather was brilliant, sunny and very still.

It was great having some riders from the premier calendar riding too, I think that boosted interest in the event.

Blog 4: Summer 2013

When I first joined Stockton Wheelers about five years ago, coaching sessions were done in a school playground, with about 12 people being called “a good attendance”. Since then, I have volunteered with the club, achieved Gold hours and most of my Platinum hours too. Prissick have played a key role in the expansion of the club. I’ve also got my Level 1 Coaching Qualification, which I put to good use.

Nowadays, attendance for both sessions is a little under 100 roughly. I was given a session plan, prepared by a qualified coach and a group to deliver it to. So, the plan was to have a small section of track. One side would have the obstacles, marked out by soft cones; the other side was used to return to the start. I had to adapt the session, as the cold and rainy conditions did not favour standing around queuing. There were four sections the riders would be tackling, the first was fairly fast, the other three were slower and only usable by one rider at a time. A queue soon developed.

To overcome this, I had riders ride round a larger loop without going back on themselves. This meant they had a longer distance to travel on their bikes, so less time queuing. It also meant that I could use the whole width of the circuit, as many riders found the limiting space too challenging to complete successfully. Once the riders were on the larger loop, and the sections faster to complete, the queue all but disappeared! This was good for proving my ability to be dynamic in tackling a problem, spotting an issue to be resolved and communicating the changes to riders, volunteers and coaches. The riders spent less time queuing and stayed warm, I’d call that a Win-Win situation!

Blog 5: Summer 2013

The club has recently opened a club night, open to all members. The first hour is open to all riders. Riders are free to go on and off the circuit whenever they wish, there is a relaxed atmosphere, with some riders trying hard and doing their own training and others having a leisurely ride round. What makes the club night special is that it brings together all aspects of the club, Time Trial riders, Road race and Crit riders such as myself, along with sportive riders and Youths from Saturday coaching session, meaning there’s a diverse mix of riders attending.

For the first hour, younger riders are brought together in a bunch with the guidance of coaches and Young Volunteers to look after them and offer coaching.  It’s safety in numbers, both for the youth riders and adults sharing the circuit. The youth riders are free to drop in and out of the session if they wish, but we find that having them together and coaching-on-the-go means a more productive session. Prissick have sections that allow riders to “skip” a part of the circuit, we used a short circuit that kept the riders within sight of the clubhouse so they could be seen easily by parents who we not riding, and they could stop for a drink etc when they wanted.