Saturday afternoon was bright, breezy and cold. An afternoon for hats and mittens, scarves and flasks of soup. The kids turned up for their session. Around 20 all told, collars turned up, woolly digits clasping handlebars, with smiles as wide as their faces. We ran a session that we knew would be challenging; two groups of similar ability/age range would ride around as a group, sticking as close together as possible, communicating on the bends, taking the lead into tight corners and not losing the wheel in front. This was all to build toward the afternoon’s great challenge; riding close enough together to touch elbows. There were 4 coaches in total, aided and abetted by helpful parents standing on corners and giving encouragement.
We started them off. True to form, the confident riders rode into the distance. ‘Reduce speed!’, I hollered, ‘look after your group!’ I insisted. ‘Its as important as racing away!’ I pointed out (these were sentiments echoed in other corners of the yard). I could see the mental cogs in action. The kids started to get it; in cycling, teamwork is important. As the session developed they rode closer and more confidently, peeling off the front neatly and joining the rear of their group speedily. One hand on their partner’s back, these mini club riders pushed their team-mates through corners. They looked out for each other. They talked. By the end of the session they touched elbows.
To see this group with an average age of 6-7 (total age range 3 -12 years), confidently embrace group riding, was hugely satisfying. I’m starting to think that if there’s anything more rewarding than cycling itself, its the act of enabling others.
For details of your local club, visit the British Cycling website.