The weekly club sessions from Braintree BMX Club continued in some hurricane force winds and all of the riders made the best of the horrendous weather. There were some superb efforts with riders excelling and even finding some new lines around the track.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Velopark at the 2012 Olympic site prior to its opening to run a session for their promotional team. I took a crew of 8 riders along to test out the track and get their pictures taken to be used at the Velopark. The track itself is set on the footprint of the Olympic BMX Track and will be an awesome facility for all.
Things have been going crazy over the last few weeks with sessions going on all over the place. Ive been working a lot at Stratford Velopark with an enormous cross section of people from 7-8 year old school groups to the taster sessions with the general public including a 63 year old guy having his first go on a BMX track to some Hungarian Mountainbikers on a Stag Do. The usual sessions at Braintree have been growing all the time and the riders have been benefiting from working in groups to bang bars in controlled conditions. Over the Easter Holidays Ive been out to Milton Keynes as well as working in London Schools with Hayes Hawks BMX Club. In early March I travelled to France with a groups of riders where we rode tracks and trails all over the South and took in a coaching session with French Elite racer Moana Moo Caille. Just recently I was working for 2024 BMX Magazine and was reporting on the UCI BMX Supercross in Manchester as well as visiting tracks in Bruntwood, Preston and Olympic BMX track Builders; Clark and Kent's Backyard. Here's a few photos of all the goings on.
Well happy new year to you all. Where did the time go? It doesn't seem like 5 minutes since I last did an update here on the XLR8 Bike School Blog, but it seems to be nearly 9 months..........
It was a great summer of cycling in all its forms from BMX to road rides, I took on everything and managed to help a whole load of riders out along the way. Ill go through things month by month.
May was packed with some new work in schools with Scott Dick from Hayes Hawks. We took the Hawks truck to Beechwood Park School in Hertfordshire amongst others to get the kids involved with something a bit different as part of their PE lessons. To paint a picture of the school, imagine a classic English public school, all red brick and big windows, them add a mile long drive, a full running track, tennis courts, swimming pools, hockey pitches and a massive Astro and you get a taste of how big and classy this place is. We ran a whole series of sessions for the pupils, taking in a new school each week and always a bit of limbo. I was contacted by Active Essex too, they are the sports development team at Essex County Council. We had some successful meetings and I won the contract for the School Activation project in the lead up to the Tour de France, more on that in a bit.
I am always looking to improve myself and take on new challenges and I went on the British Cycling Level 2 MTB course so I can keep up to date with all the techniques required across more disciplines. Ive been racing MTB's for years, but you cant beat getting involved with the best in the business to take on some new methods. It turned out I was pretty good at the MTB coaching too as I nailed 100% in both the written and practical assessments. Pretty stoked with that as it goes.
In my role at Braintree BMX Club, I was part of the team who organised the first ever race on the BMX track at the Olympic Park I London since the Olympic Games in 2012. The race attracted over 200 riders and we were treated to some awesome sunshine. The race ran without a hitch, a great tribute to the Olympics and the team from Braintree who are up to any challenge thrown at them.
June soon came around and kicked off in week one with the Active Essex School Activation Sessions. I was given the contract to visit 20 schools along the Tour De France route through Essex, running from Saffron Walden in the North, right down to Epping in the South. The sessions involved a great Q&A I devised to get the kids knowledge of the worlds biggest cycling race up to speed, then we got on the BMXs and had some fun learning how to corner properly, sprint, move around on the bike and even wheelies for the most competent. Over the 3 weeks I was touring around Essex I got over 500 kids on bikes and buzzing about the TdF. A great feeling and something I will cherish for years to come.
The big race itself came through Essex on 7th July and I was ensconced in the local village of Rayne where they have a small pump track. I had worked with the Parish Council and Community Association to take the liability of the track off of their hands for the day and ran some drop in sessions for the local kids. We had bikes and helmets on hand for those without their own and after a short coaching session, ran some timed laps with a leader board keeping score throughout the day. Over 100 laps were scored and there were some great times racked up. We closed down for an hour or so when the TdF procession or caravan begun so we could get a good view of the race. I've followed the TdF since I was a kid and it really was an awesome experience to see it go by. The peloton is a mass of shiny bikes and lycra and the speed they move at is amazing. If you ever get the chance to go and see it, take it!!
We were asked back to the Brentwood Inter School Games again and ran the popular BMX team relay competition. Year on year its been amazing to see the kids from around the Shenfield area get involved with BMX racing amongst mainstream sports. There was the usual high numbers, nerves, chaos and carnage, but everybody came out unscathed and had a great time.
On the personal side, the BMX World Championships were on the agenda too. It was the first time I would be competing since I broke my leg at the same event in 2012 and was something I didn't think I would ever do again at one point. I took the family across to Holland with me as my eldest son was also racing. We spent a week over there and fully immersed ourselves in the event. Alongside racing and being a BMX Dad I was also working for 2024 BMX Magazine as their race reporter and took on the role as Team GB mechanic/coach for the kids on their race day. A real privilege to be there to support and mentor some of the countries best hopefuls for years to come.
I was also asked to run some coaching in Birmingham for the guys from Nuneaton BMX Club. We had a great session in the week leading up to the national race there and the guys really worked hard as I put them through their paces, taking on each section of the track individually before putting it all together for some full laps.
The summer holidays were upon us in August and I was out on the road again, running clinics all over the place. Braintree, Milton Keynes and Norwich became weekly sessions and I started to feel as much part of their clubs as I do my own. The race season was nearly over with only a couple of big races left to go, but the biggest was The British Championships at Cyclopark in Kent. While every man and his dog was heading down there though, I decided to take a little roadtrip with a group of riders from Braintree to the Northn of the country to get some riding done without the pressure of the race venue or environment. We went to tracks in Telford, Wrexham, Manchester and returned to Clark and Kents Backyard track to give the guys a real fun workout in a pressure free environment. It seemed to do us all good as we took some great results at the British Championships with 3 out of the 5 racers making it to the top 5 in their age groups at the coveted event.
Things slowed down a little in September and I went on another couple of courses, one with the CTC as I trained to be one of their Assistant Ride Leaders and the other at Lee Valley Velopark, London on the British Cycling Level 2 Track Award. The CTC are a great Charity whose soul purpose is to get more people on bikes, in whatever form that takes, no bad thing. The track course was a bit of CPD for me as I am fortunate enough to be on the books at the Velopark as an MTB and BMX coach and this would give me more opportunities for work. The track (Velodrome) is an amazing site, you can really feel the Olympic vibe in there. The course itself was a really thorough couple of days, day one was all classroom and theory and I went home that evening with my head spinning with gearing ratios and the words "Press on"" repeating in my head, day two was all about practical coaching and I had obviously had a good teacher as I passed with flying colours.
The annual British Cycling Inter Regional Competition came around in October and I was once again the Lead Coach for East Anglia. I drove the team up to the Manchester Velopark where the guys went through two tough days of competition. Regrettably our team was lacking the girls side and we were on the back foot. However, the team did themselves proud and scored the maximum number of points available for such a small team. The future is looking bright for these guys.
Leading on from the work I did in schools through the summer, I was fortunate enough to be asked back to a couple of them and ran some after school clubs. You have dodgeball, tennis, football and other clubs like that. Why not BMX? The guys at Wethersfield and St Marys COE in Saffron Walden really embraced the sport and worked so hard and gained so much confidence that I convinced them to compete in a real race at a BMX track. Nine out of the 16 guys came along and had the time of their lives. A really proud moment in my year, to see these kids who hadn't even ridden BMXs just a few months earlier, not only out on track but asking their mums and dads for BMX's for Xmas. Priceless!!
The rest of the year continued in pretty much the same vain, days at the Velopark coaching BMX, MTB and Track. Weekends away at the races and coaching the bright young BMXers of the UK. I even got chance to take in a 4X national points race and took my first ever win in the Veterans class, matched by my 12 year old son in the under 13s category.
Now here we are in January and the wheels are in motion for another year of coaching with opportunites starting to spring up. Ive just started leading rides for the CTC on a weekly basis and will be running some BMX workshops for Witham Boys Brigade starting this weekend coming. If you would like to book me for a session or series of sessions then don't hesitate to hit us up through the Contact Us page.