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What Is British Cycling Doing For...........Mountain Biking?
June 2011 | Luke Webber
Mountain Biking - a sport, a leisure activity and, for many, a lifestyle!
Based at Manchester's National Cycling Centre, British Cycling is the National Governing Body for cycling in Britain, tasked with managing the British Cycling Team, the governance and development of cycle sport in England and representing Great Britain at the UCI.
With the aim of creating a tangible legacy for cycling beyond the London 2012 Olympics, British Cycling's philosophy is outlined in the Whole Sport Plan; with the ambition of increasing membership from 30,000 in 2009, to 100,000 in 2013, inspiring participation in cycling as sport, recreation and sustainable transport by achieving worldwide success on a sporting level.
Ultimately responsible for delivering these aims are British Cycling's CEO Ian Drake and Head of Performance Dave Brailsford CBE and an in-house staff of over 200, who in turn are supported by thousands of clubs and volunteers.
In this feature, we look at how British Cycling's broad range of programmes supports Mountain Biking and mountain bikers alike.
World Class Performance Programmes (Great Britain Cycling Team)
The GB Team test the Olympic Games course in front of local school children
All British Cycling World Class Performance Programmes are funded by UK Sport and the National Lottery, who support Olympic sports only, which for mountain biking means Cross-Country. The amount of funding provided is determined by medal performances at World Championships and Olympics - put simply, the more medals at these events, the greater funding there is to support Cross-Country mountain biking within the UK for both performance and participation.
To this end, British Cycling employs Phil Dixon as mountain bike Olympic Coach, with an express aim of winning medals at World Championship and Olympic events, which will in turn fund mountain biking activities within British Cycling. Results on a world-stage also fit in with British Cycling's Inspiration to Participation ideology.
Since coming on board in 2006, Dixon has implemented a structure to mirror that pioneered by the critically acclaimed track setup. Four years on there are riders at every level, with the exception of a female Olympic Podium Programme athlete.
Results have been provided on the international stage with World Cup podium appearances from Olympic Development Programme men, World Cup and World Championship podium appearances from the Olympic Academy Programme's Annie Last and a top ten World Championship performance by the Olympic Podium Programme's Liam Killeen.
Such results fit with the aspiration to qualify at least one male and one female position to the London 2012 Olympic Games - a process currently ongoing through 2011 and 2012.
Young riders - the bedrock of the sport - in action in a national series event
The foundation of British Cycling, membership holds the key to creating a better environment for every cyclist in the country - including mountain bikers. The basic aim is to help every cyclist get the most from their cycling, while making cycling stronger across the UK. All funding for membership comes from subscriptions, with all income going directly back into cycling. This means support for domestic events, support for clubs - including volunteers, commissaires and officials.
As a voice of representation for cycling in Britain, more members from mountain biking means a stronger presence to secure deals not only for a more lucrative package of member benefits, but also to improve Britain's mountain biking environment - such as the historic agreement British Cycling secured with Forestry Commission England in 2010.
Direct benefits from being a British Cycling member include access to the same legal advice and assistance as the Great Britain Cycling Team, 12% discount at online retailer Wiggle, exclusive pre-sale tickets and a members area at major events, 40% off subscriptions to Future's cycling magazine titles, the cheapest bike insurance policy - guaranteed, travel insurance and 15% discount at Halfords. And best of all subscription prices are the same today as in 2009.
Coaching and Education
Former national champion Jenny Copnall, now a qualified coach
The British Cycling Coaching and Education department's off-road remit is to create a network of qualified mountain bike coaches across the country who form the basis of progressing mountain biking as a sport - making for an obvious route into the sport - improving the accessibility of specialist coaching for all and ultimately providing the resource at grass roots level for developing riders to join the World Class Performance Programmes. This direction has been endorsed and adopted by the UCI, forming the basis of its worldwide coach education programme.
John Mills, Coaching, Education and Development Director at British Cycling, has been appointed Project Director, while Keith Flory, British Cycling's Coaching and Education Manager, will also be part of the new team having been seconded to the UCI for 17 months to manage the development and implementation of the project.
Production of British Cycling's mountain bike coaching awards has been overseen by Charlie Evans who developed a workgroup in conjunction with the British Cycling Mountain Bike Team, Cyclewise and leading riders Nick Craig, Jenny Copnall, Scott Beaumont and Will Longden, the first outcome of which was the Level 2 Award.
There is ongoing progress on creation of the Level 3 Award - the highest level of coaching qualification offered by British Cycling - due for launch in 2011. Each Award covers all mountain bike disciplines, including downhill, fourcross and cross-country.
Running alongside this is British Cycling's Coaching Scholarship programme, which takes the most promising coaches already enrolled in the system and gives them the opportunities to liaise directly with British Cycling's Performance Programmes, the English Institute of Sport and the UCI.
The second ongoing major project is the creation of the Mountain Bike Leadership Award; a course that will provide qualification for those who wish to lead off-road rides within the UK, under the jurisdiction of British Cycling.
Due to be launched during 2011, the course aims to compliment British Cycling's Mountain Bike Coaching Awards by adding to the remit within which coaches can operate. This will allow for coaches to guide riders within coaching sessions - something key because coaching and ride leading require separate qualifications. It will also prove a qualification relevant to outdoor leadership professionals, commercial mountain bike leaders and leisure riders who want the security and insurance cover of a professional qualification when leading their friends.
With these products, British Cycling's Coaching and Education department hopes to become self-sufficient by 2013 while increasing membership, but most importantly bring clarity to coach education within the cycling market, bringing British Cycling in line with other outdoor sporting organisations.
Major Events and Projects
Riders in action at the 2011 Dalby World Cup event
Funded by Sport England, local authorities, commercial organisations and British Cycling, the role of Major Events and Projects is twofold; firstly to deliver and host international cycling competition in the UK, leaving a legacy and secondly to oversee individual projects.
In 2010 and 2011, British Cycling was successful in hosting the UCI Cross-Country Mountain Bike World Cup at Dalby - an event that went on to be awarded the best XC World Cup of 2010 by the UCI.
From putting the event itself out to tender, to securing funding partners and assigning broadcast rights, British Cycling presided over a million-pound investment, which bought not only Cross-Country World Cup racing back to England for the first time in a decade; but also set about delivering a legacy for Yorkshire comprising of another national-standard cross country race venue, six satellite coaching sites and a full-time Go Ride coach.
With England's first permanent World Cup Cross-Country venue now in place, and with the UCI reviewing the possibility of individual discipline World Championships, it is feasible that Dalby could host the Cross-Country World Championships in the coming decade - a logical step for the Major Events team. It is hoped events like this will serve to provide a stage for Britain's best riders to inspire future generations to perform at the highest level.
Marketing and Communications
British Cycling's in house marketing and communications team to publicise and promote work done across the organisation, while continuing to redevelop the British Cycling website to offer an unrivalled service for cyclists wishing to get on their bikes.
From communicating the success of British Cycling and the Great Britain Cycling Team internally and externally, to securing sponsorship deals and member benefits, the department was a key player in delivery of the Dalby World Cup; the in-house design department creating a complete look and feel for the event.
The department also contains British Cycling's online team, which presents headline coverage of the British cross-country, downhill and fourcross series, national rankings and an extensive event calendar.
Event-driven, the Cycle Sport department focuses on governance, delivery and support for domestic mountain bike events, promoting participation in mountain biking.
Headed by a team of Regional Event Officers whose aim is to create more cycle sport events for racers to participate in, the department also leads on governance and event registration; including the training of commissaries.
More visibly, British Cycling directly and significantly financially supports the British Cross-Country, British Downhill and British Fourcross Series; effectively holding the role of title sponsor.
Equally importantly, in spring 2010 British Cycling signed an agreement with Forestry Commission England to safeguard the future of mountain bike racing - the majority of which takes place in Forestry Commission venues across England.
Go Ride and Club Development
Go-Ride Racing - offering coaching and entry-level racing at national events in 2011
Funded by Sport England and Sky, Go-Ride is British Cycling's development programme for young people. The programme provides a fun and safe way to introduce young riders to the world of cycle sport and provides a platform to improve bike handling skills. Go-Ride also includes club development and accreditation strands, plus delivery through schools. Go-Ride also supports a novice under-16 competition programme called Go-Ride Racing.
The department also makes provision for young volunteers (14-18 years of age) who wish to contribute to the club network, coaching, officiating and event organisation with a range of courses and qualifications.
Delivering the scheme through British Cycling's national club network and supported by 27 Go Ride coaches, each region has a full time Regional Development Manager, backed by a network of development staff at British Cycling's head office.