Sunday, 7 September 2014

Back to School. Back to Cycling.

Not really a natural fit is it? When would you consider the two in the same sentence? Where is your child's bike now? Do they have one? When is it used? Fleetingly in the summer or is it gathering cobwebs and turning into a rust bucket in the shed?

I like to cycle. I'm not a hard core cyclist in that I don't have a camera on top my helmet, I don't have a stash of lycra or a fancy pants £1,000 bike. I just like to keep fit and have found cycling most enjoyable and its free!

As a family we have watched The Tour de France from about 2005 (a bit late for those in the know) and absolute love it! My eldest son (age 10), in particular, knows his cyclists like a keen football fan knows the players.  As an added bonus he also loves to cycle. Only thing is we live in South London home to London Buses, plenty of traffic and all the other dangers related to letting your child out of sight for 5 minutes. We don't live in a nice cul-de-sac. We live on a main road.

The only time my son can go for a proper bike ride (daughter and youngest son also - is if I go along too).  I suspect I am not alone in this scenario.  So it got me thinking where could my children cycle and I mean properly cycle not proficiency (which lets face it who is going to let their child ride in the cycle lanes in London) in safety without me?

I googled cycling clubs in our area and there were NONE for children. Adults yes. Children no. So, if there were no clubs for children I thought the next best thing was to bring a club to the children. I decided to go about setting up an after school cycling club at my children's school. Problem solved!

If you also feel that children can't roam free and enjoy the ultimate freedom that cycling brings then why don't you set up an after school cycling club also? Its very easy.

Our bikes propped up by the beach on holiday this year. Sadly, many of us don't have this environment to cycle in
Firstly, I spoke with the Head Teacher who was very supportive of the idea. To be honest, every school should be - this fits in with their healthy lifestyle ethos, promotes well being and encourages the family to cycle to school and leave the car. Quite frankly I cannot see why any school would not want a cycling club!

Once I got the go ahead to make further investigations. I simply went onto the British Cycling Website. On this site you will find a link under the 'Go Ride' drop down menu to Go Ride for schools it will then give you details of courses and email addresses for your local British Cycling Co-ordinator. I emailed ours and he came back with a wealth of information and courses that the teacher (or parent) could go on together with cycle routes around the school and local cycling tracks to support the children's learning.  This isn't about proficiency this about children cycling for exercise for an hour, learning about the peleton, time trials, descending down hills and much more.  How exciting!

My eldest son with a Halfords bike and SKY top ready for a bike ride. Funny how cycling is now more of an adult persuit when once it was predominately for children. You can change this and set up a cycling club at your school!
The teacher went on the course (paid for by the PTA) and promptly set up an after school cycling club.  The club was immediately oversubscribed. The British Cycling co-ordinator came down on regular occasions (free of charge) to participate in the club and give the teacher guidance.  Children would come to school with their bike and leave it in the bike shed. The children would finish their club red faced and with a renewed enthusiasm for bike riding - so much so that some families starting going out at the weekend and two pupils are now competing in BMX competitions following a visit to the local BMX track.

If you really want to get hard core you could also set up many clubs in the local area, get a local bike shop to sponsor your club(s), get the local press involved and have lots of competitions.

If you feel that some children may not have a bike then I would suggest the PTA look to purchase some bikes -  so that all children from all backgrounds can participate.

So what are you waiting for? Who knows your school could hold the next Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome or Mark Cavendish and wouldn't you just feel great knowing that you had a little part to play in the next generation of fabulous British Cyclists!

I was asked to write this blog post by mini micro scooters to feature on their website. I was not paid for this post - I am just very enthusastic about getting our children cycling 


  1. That is really interesting, we discovered a love of cycling when we went to Center Parcs, but we haven't done much over the summer. I am going to take a look at that though as I would love for us all to do more.

    1. Hi Nikki, yes do have a look its really easy and the kids at school loved it x