Blog 1: Racing at the Velodrome
This day had been slowly creeping up yet the last week flashed by. This was my 1st attempt at organising a race. All the pre-race day organisation had been done, sign on sheets were done, prize money was sorted, judges were arranged, results sheets were printed.
Racing didn't start until 2:30 but I was at the velodrome around 11:30 doing final preparations like marking out time trial stations for one of the events as well as other jobs. The time disappeared and within what seemed like minutes it was 1:30 and sign on was open.
The sun was shining but I couldn't rest, there were still a few last jobs to do.
2:30 came round and racing began, the bunches were fairly large considering the previous days weather and also being the 1st real race of the year for most. Throughout the afternoon there was lots of close wheel to wheel racing.
The final race came up and it was time for me to retreat to the HQ to sort out results and prize money; with £500 prize money it took a while to get everything sorted but I was just about finished by the time the race ended. The prize presentations closed what was a successful day.
Organising an entire race meeting on your own is hard, but rewarding. Once it is over, you are able to look back on it and see its successes and failures, but providing you learn from the shortfalls then it is all a success.
Blog 2: MTB Coaching
Coaching mountain biking to 30 kids is hard enough in the summer sun. Unfortunately coaching isn't always in glorious sunshine, today was wet, and muddy.
Challenges were evident from the start, the space was limited due to current renovation works, and the space we did have was in the majority sticky chewed up mud. In Addition many of the children were relatively new and also young therefore didn't have the power needed to drive through the mud at all times. Especially uphill, it was hard to the extent that they could not even push their bikes up a small incline, therefore it was my job to drag 28/30 bikes up every hill we got too.
To try and make it a little more easy going for them I set up a short race circuit incorporating the driest track possible with the least uphill’s available and then did some relay races. Everybody got involved and found it much more engaging and enjoyable as they were able to stay on their bikes for much longer and the team rivalry spurred them on.
After some races I tested their skills by teaching them stationary balance and then putting it onto a game of Desert Island, commonly known as Sumo. The aim was to stay on your bike for the longest by trying to get others to put their feet down or go out the circle, if riders are good the circle slowly decreased in size to make it more challenging. After a few rounds to get them used to the rules, I joined in to in make it harder for the riders who kept winning, this said I turned into a target and had everyone trying to make me loose in any way possible. This was entertaining for both me and the kids because it challenged me to stay up but also challenged them to find new ways of getting me out, this therefore made them consolidate their new skill without thinking about it too much.
One of the things I learnt is that no matter what space you have, you can make a fun session as long as you are flexible and willing to adapt.
Blog 3: Assisting a Lead Coach
Today I was assisting a coach on the track, the group of children were between 7 and 17 which gave a wide range of abilities, and we therefore split them into 3 groups.
Throughout the day we did some different exercises aimed at getting track novices used to the velodrome and progress their skills. After a few different exercises which developed skills we put them into a few different races to see how the skills they just learnt benefited them within a race and also for some fun at the end of the day. The kids seemed to thoroughly enjoy their day and many have come back since.
Blog 4: Managing a skill zone
During this session I managed a Downhill braking skills zone, giving the riders coaching tips based on their performance. As it was an early morning the grass was still slightly damp which made the exercise more challenging for riders.
One challenge when working with a mixed age group is that younger riders will copy the older riders; if an older rider is bored and starts skidding for fun then the younger riders tried to do the same. Therefore you have to make the activity more challenging for those who are more able to keep them engaged.
Blog 5: Leading a Coaching Session
Today I delivered a session on behalf of a coach; he was there watching but wanted to see how I managed with the explaining of activities and general running of a session.
The session was on the track for intermediate riders, this was to my benefit as I know the track quite well and I was able to draw on my own experiences of exercises to either explain them clearer or to make them more challenging to the riders involved.
One challenge when coaching large groups is to make sure you are heard by all, but also to make sure others listen to questions asked by other riders, there were a few times that the same question was asked twice due to riders not quite hearing the full answer. Therefore as the day went on I positioned myself within the group better so they could all hear me.