MEMBERS of Redditch Road & Path Cycling Club are celebrating after the club was named British Cycling Club of the Year, seeing off competition from more than 300 clubs in the process.
This tremendous accolade caps an impressive set of achievements for the club, which in the past three years has also been named Redditch Club of the Year and Hereford & Worcester Team of the Year.
The thriving club, which recently staged the British Schools National Cyclo-cross Championships at the Abbey Stadium, finished second in the West Midlands Cyclo-cross League medals table for the season just finished.
Judges of the national award recognised the warm, welcoming atmosphere the club provides and its devotion and dedication to serve the community.
Club spokesman Paul Berry said: “Our long-term goal is to increase female participation at all ages, continue to build our youth numbers and to find a home where we can prosper further and develop a track, cyclo-cross and mountain bike facility that can be used by the community as a whole.”
The club’s 2014 year began with it demonstrating its continued commitment to offer varied coaching and introductory racing opportunities to youth riders with a two-part Go-Ride Race Series.
The uniqueness of the series came in the fact that they were held at a venue that has always been considered perfect but has never been acceptable for the club to take over for a few hours.
After some time spent improving the club’s alliance with the council, the necessary permission was given, and still the council wanted to do more by cutting down trees to help create an exciting and dynamic cyclo-cross style course for the ‘Muddy Mayhem’ races. Since then, the club has continued the close relationship with the council.
Only one week after the aforementioned first Go-Ride Race, another was held in another two-part series by the club. This was the first ever women and girls only Go-Ride Race. This was advertised to all novice ladies to give them a taste of racing in a friendly, no pressure environment with a format that kept the racing short and varied by including a one-lap time-trial, straight-line sprints and bunch races on a closed circuit.
Ladies travelled some way to have a go at the racing and it was hailed a success. The theme of ladies-only cycling has continued throughout the year with a weekly ride which has been attracting more and more riders every week and the club is keen to support British Cycling’s target to get one million more women on bikes by 2020.
Continuing the theme of firsts, the club took on the running of a national event for the first time in the form of the British Schools Cycling Association (BSCA) National Cyclo-Cross.
Exceptional youth riders came from all corners of the country to Redditch to be treated to a challenging course that offered everything you would expect of a national cyclo-cross event and all the club’s volunteers were out in force, showing their commitment by taking on any task that needed doing.
To enable the club’s own 70+ youth riders to compete in such racing, weekly coaching sessions continue to be held no matter what the weather. If it is deemed too dangerous to hold a session outside, they will be moved inside for a turbo/roller session.
As new members are less likely to have a turbo trainer, the club has a number available to lend out and offers these for the indoor sessions so nobody is left out. The club has eight dedicated coaches who make themselves available every week to ensure consistency of coaching and each run a progressive series of sessions to the same group, leaving the riders with improved skills and confidence on the bike.
Every other month, a coaches meeting takes place to discuss all of the pertinent issues and allow an opportunity to re-group children as necessary based on their recent performance and progress in the club’s own awards scheme ‘Saddle Up’.
The club has seven young volunteers working through the Cycling Award for Young Volunteers (CAYV) programme. These volunteers have been involved in a whole host of events throughout the year, one event of which was the club’s Open 10 time trial which was in fact run by the club’s National Youth Representative, who is a part of the British Cycling National Youth Forum.
Some of the young volunteers were marshals on the course, paired up with more experienced volunteers to show them the ropes, whilst another young volunteer was receiving the results by phone at the HQ from the timekeeper’s car located at the finish line and passing this information on to the results collector.
In the last year, two young volunteers have jointly taken on the important role of newsletter editor and they are well supported by the committee and continue to do an excellent job at producing the newsletter every quarter.
To keep things fresh, the design of the club kit has changed in the past year and in time to be worn at the Pearl Izumi Tour Series round which visited Redditch for the third year running in June 2014.
In association with Sweet Spot, Redditch Borough Council, Worcestershire County Council and all of the local schools and businesses involved, the club’s many volunteers took time off work to support the community races by time-keeping, pushing riders off, giving tips and collecting results, as well as holding a one-lap time-trial in which 80 riders – mostly youths – contested the hilly course which the professionals took to only an hour later.
This was a very unique opportunity the club was very quick to recognise and take up, which worked to promote the club far and wide while giving its members something they will never forget.
This friendly club enjoys much more than just cycling, including camping weekends and other social events, whilst holding an information evening in the first week of January which is aimed to arm all members with all the information they will need for the coming year.
Publicity officer Paul Berry said: “The club has most often been described as friendly.
“Thanks to all the fantastically self-motivated volunteers running the club, the above events that have taken place over the past year demonstrate the friendly approach has benefited so many young people by introducing them to the world of cycling, improving their abilities, supporting them in their development on and off the bike and creating an excellent environment that is sustainable and therefore able to benefit a lot more in the coming years.”
Anyone wishing to donate monies to the club’s facility fund could contact the chairman or any of the committee. Visit www.rrpcc.co.uk for more details.
Pictured, left to right are – Sulli Berry (boys’ Slipstreamer of the Year), Steph Holmes (coach), Pam Yates (Slipstreamers founder and coach) and Annie Lindsay (girls’ Slipstreamer of the Year). (s)