Platinum Profile - Jason

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Club - Palmer Park Velo

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

A: Gold.

Q: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

A: I now feel proud to have contributed to my club, not just have been a part of it..

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

A: Building my self-confidence by taking on responsibility.

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

A: No.

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

A: Become a coach.
Jason's blogs...

Blog 1: 27/04/13

                                                          Race Day at Palmer Park

My first role was to run the roller warm up for the riders. This was mainly for the older riders who were preparing for the Omniums but I did also open it up to anyone keen to gain

experience on rollers. I helped a few inexperienced riders who had to hold the fence to begin with but by the end of the day they were riding well and all the riders were well prepared for the racing.

I offered to run this as when I had previously taken part, riders were left to their own devices to warm up and very few did so on rollers. I wanted to make sure that others had this opportunity and I was pleased to see how many had a go.

I’d run this the previous race day but noticed many riders struggled to get through sign on in time to do the whole session, so this time I started five minutes later and had those taking part move to the front of the sign on queue. This and shouting a lot more reminders as the start time got nearer meant they all started on time and were ready for the rider’s briefing, just before which I had to take an unexpected final rider through gear check.

During the racing I joined the judging team. First up I was timing pursuits. Once each rider had started I made sure the next rider at my station was ready before taking the current riders finishing time, so there would be as little delay as possible.

Next were the bunch races: points which is always one of the hardest to judge and scratch which is one of the easiest. The points race became quite confusing when a rider gained a lap but there was still a small group chasing for the race lead heading into the sprint.

To finish the day there were bin races with a few riders being caught out as they didn’t make the corner round the bin. Once they’d done enough laps they raced part way round the track where I took the finishing order.

Blog 2: 04/05/13

Coaching sessions at Palmer Park and Omnium planning


After the race day I was asked to run a roller warm up for the fixed wheel session this morning, before assisting in the day’s activities.

The riders were put in pursuit teams and asked to come up with a target number of laps for fifteen minutes and I monitored one group giving feedback on their target as they went pass and evaluating things they could do to improve afterwards. The main point was about understanding the balance of strength in the group and not being afraid to step up and take longer turns if you can or hang on in there otherwise in order to keep the same speed. I was also learning how to get information across quickly and clearly when they were riding. They then got split into twos and targeted to travel two thirds of what they did last time in ten minutes, then half of that in five. It became more difficult to follow my riders as they split up and due to the variance between them I slightly altered the targets for the individual rides to give them all something appropriately challenging and motivating.

I finished the fixed session as a holder for the kerins and talked each of my riders through it to make sure they were familiar and asked them to think whether they wanted to get a large push to get away fast or wait a bit to slot down early.

I then was asked to take the under sixes in the freewheel session. I hadn’t planned to do so and needed to come up with ideas, to keep them moving and having fun, quite quickly. There were a few pauses while I and another coach changed the session layout that could perhaps have been avoided otherwise.

At the end of training we had the pre Omnium meeting. I was confirmed to be part of the judging team and asked a few questions about how the day would run, making sure there was someone to call riders out from the elimination race and checking who was dealing with parental complaints of the results.

Blog 3
: 17/05/13

Omnium Preparation


I went to the stadium in the evening to help set up for the Omnium the next day. To start with athletes were using the running track so I began by setting up the rider’s area, marking the boundary with hurdles. We had to move the high jump mat out of the area first and cordon off the steeple chase as it was a bit of a safety risk for bikes. I also recruited several other volunteers who had turned up to help search for any pins, tack or studs left that might cause a puncture risk. We found a huge amount and there would have been many more punctures otherwise.

We had not unfortunately been able to source portaloos for the event and that’s something we want to make sure we can get prepared in the track centre next time. Today though we just had to put up signs into the centre and will need people on gate duty to let people through. I also thought that although we searched the rider’s area for pins we could have done a more thorough job searching each lane of the athletics track for when riders leave the track.

Blog 4: 18/05/13

Palmer Park Omnium


I was part of the large judging team we had on the day. We alternated in and out so we all had a chance for a break and lunch! We all judged each event with at least one age group. There were: pursuits, elimination races, scratch races, kerins and points races.

We had a finish line camera for the first time and were grateful for it at times as there were some very close races, but we made sure every rider got their result. The pursuits went quickly as soon as the previous rider was off the track we were ready to go but for some of the bunch races it took us a bit of extra time to verify the results. I think substituting a few judges after each race so one can check the results without holding up proceedings could be an improvement for when the Nationals come.

As always the points races was one of the hardest to judge. The head of the race lapped a few riders just before the finish so they took points in the final sprint despite being a lap down and never hearing the bell which meant the overall winner didn’t feature in the final sprint. I worked out that the quickest way to calculate the result was to look for the winner of the first sprint, see how many other points they picked up to get their total then move on to the next points scorer and so on until all riders with points (or lost by being lapped) have them counted. Then use the finishing order as a tie breaker, rather than starting with the finishing order and working backwards.

Overall the day ran smoothly but we will of course be looking for more improvements come the Nationals!

Blog 5: 02-03/07/2013

Berkshire School Games


There were two days of the Berkshire School games where I was volunteering to help British Cycling run a come and try it Go-Ride mountain bike event. I helped set up a course in the morning of the first day aiming to give a few interesting corners and features in a wooded area for the riders to have a go at but not too challenging as the main aim was to give as many people the opportunity to try as possible.

We had a stock of different bikes and helmets which had to be handed out to each school that came to the course and I helped kit and brief the riders before they got to go out on the course. To get as many people through as we could, the riders were given a lap or two to get used to the course before I called them into the starting pen and set them off for a race. I did a final check to see they were all happy with their bikes, helmets, brakes and gears and explained that we’d give them a one lap race taking the time of the fastest boy and girl at each school. I also helped instruct some of the less experienced volunteers, who were helping on behalf of the school games, to do some of these roles too. At the end of both days I helped pack the bikes away and on the second to take down the course.

As our event wasn’t an official competition, we struggled on the first day to get many participants, but on the second we had a more regular flow. All who took part seemed to greatly enjoy it and there were a few riders who were unconfident in their riding and needed to be helped to get there. I started briefing the riders beforehand when it became apparent that they weren’t all happy with using their gears and I continued to modify what I said to help them. I learnt a lot about running a Go-Ride event.