Teaching your child to ride a bike with Isla Rowntree

With the summer finally arriving and the long school holidays on the horizon we asked Isla Rowntree, ex-national
cyclocross champion and founder of Islabikes how to approach teaching you child to ride a bike.

What are your thoughts on stabilisers?

For years children’s bikes have come fitted with stabilisers, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right thing to use. We encourage parents to avoid stabilisers as they prevent children from learning to balance naturally and actually make the process of learning to ride a bike trickier.
Far better is to let your child use a balance bike before starting to learn a pedal bike. A balance bike will teach them the basics of balancing on two wheels and make the transition to first pedal bike much easier.

 

How old should my child be?

Most children learn to ride their first pedal bike unaided between the ages of 3 1/2 and 4 1/2. But children develop their cycling skills at different times. If it seems that your child isn’t quite get the hang of it, don’t worry, let them keep enjoying their balance bike for a few more weeks and try again later.

How do I teach my child to ride?

Find a large, safe, flat open space to use as your learning zone. Something with tarmac or a fairly firm surface is perfect. Long grass is too tricky for new riders to pedal on.

Now adjust the height of your child’s saddle so they can get the balls of their feet on the floor.

Put your child on their bike and stand behind them, holding them under their armpits. Don’t hold any part of the bike. We want the new rider to feel how their bike naturally moves underneath them.

Push your child along and let the bike wander in any direction. You can help steer the bike by leaning your child right and left. Doing this will let your child learn that leaning is part of the steering process.

If your children have learnt to balance on a balance bike, they may take a little while to grasp the concept of forward pedalling. Encourage them while they practise pedalling forwards.

If your child is ready to cycle unaided they should quickly get a feel for balance and you can gradually let go, but stay close by to catch them if anything goes wrong.

For nervous riders, you may need to stay with them a bit longer. That’s fine. Just let them know that you’re there, but you’re very gradually going to loosen your hold on them. Eventually they’ll be cycling unaided without even knowing it. The look of delight when they realise you’re no longer holding them and they’re cycling all by themselves is a moment to treasure.

 

The final part of the jigsaw is learning how to set off from stationary unaided. For this, have your child put one of their pedals just past the top most part of the pedal circle. That means around the ‘5 to the hour’ position with the left leg, or ‘5 past the hour’ position with the right leg.

Now ask them to give a good push on this leg. With enough forward momentum they should be able to transfer both feet to the pedals, start pedalling and be a completely independent rider.

Islabikes build quality lightweight bikes that are gender neutral in their aesthetics, CyclingShorts.cc will be reviewing them shortly – so watch this space.

You can find more information at:

http://www.islabikes.co.uk/

@islabikes

https://www.facebook.com/Islabikes

https://www.youtube.com/user/Islabikes

Press Release – Racing Chance Foundation and Team 22 – 2017 and beyond

The Racing Chance Foundation and Team 22 are very pleased to announce a joint venture that will enhance the opportunities available to Under 23 and Junior Women riders within the UK.

A true pathway for success

From 2017, Team 22 will act as the Under 23 and Junior development squad for The Racing Chance Foundation (“Racing Chance”). This will allow Racing Chance to offer a complete development pathway for riders. This pathway will cover and support progression for riders from novice-focused intro- to-racing days and race skills development sessions for more advanced riders, through to a development squad (Team 22). Then beyond that, there will be the opportunity to race overseas through organised racing trips, as introduced and run by Racing Chance in 2015.

 

(c) Dan Monaghan Photography

(c) Dan Monaghan Photography

Talent identification and development

Within this partnership structure, Team 22 will continue to operate as a separate team and will be supported as it is now through commercial sponsorship, thus ensuring that there is no drain on existing Racing Chance funds. Riders joining Team 22 will be supported through its existing structure of coaching and financial support, but will also have access to the additional opportunities available from Racing Chance. Both Racing Chance and Team 22 are already putting in place a scouting network that will allow us to identify and offer places to some of the brightest young bike racing talent in the UK, providing opportunities to riders not on an existing development pathway.

 

(c) Dan Monaghan Photography

(c) Dan Monaghan Photography

What does this mean?

Team 22 owner Colin Batchelor says: “This is an amazing opportunity for everyone involved in this partnership. For us, it’ll be great to be part of a true development pathway and the level of support and opportunity we will be able to offer riders is something everyone involved in Team 22 is very excited about.”

Racing Chance Foundation Chair Heather Bamforth says “By creating an alternative road based pathway, we hope to be able to encourage Youth A riders to continue racing once they leave that age category by easing the transition into road racing with the junior and senior women. This development can only be seen as a positive for all people who are keen to see numbers participating increasing, and the Foundation hopes to offer training opportunities for all young women in the junior and under-23 categories regardless of whether they go on to race for Team 22.”

 

Team 22 smll-43

(c) Dan Monaghan Photography

 

About RacingChanceFoundation.com

The Racing Chance Foundation is a charity registered in England and Wales which was set up in April 2014 to provide an alternative pathway for women in competitive cycling.  They focus on road-based events, providing training and racing opportunities from novice through to elite level.

Racing Chance have membership opportunities available, where you can join for £5.  They will have a membership area up and running on their website shortly, but in the meantime, they are affiliated with British Cycling, you can sign up here.  Not only will you be supporting a charity dedicated to women’s cycling, but the Foundation is also affiliated to Cycling Time Trials and the Manchester & District Ladies Cycling Association for those of you who want to have a go at time trialling but are not sure about what it is all about.  So, whether you are already a member of a club or are currently riding on your own, why not sign up today?  Men are welcome as much as women! In return you get exclusive access to their members and coaching area on the website (launching shortly), a discount off all purchases in the Racing Chance Shop for the duration of your membership (more benefits to be announced soon). You can also book and attend the charity’s heavily subscribed training events, for details of the latest events click here or why not visit the Racing Chance Foundation shop to purchase some stylish race kit, all profits from sales are put straight back in to the charity to provide more cycling opportunities for members. Even the smallest donation make a huge difference.

The Racing Chance Foundation is a not for profit registered charity: 1156835.

Team Mountain Goat Coaching – A new XC Team for 2015

Team Mountain Goat Coaching Ready for XC Series Opener

There will be a new team lining up in domestic Cross-Country (XC) Mountain Biking races in 2015. Team Mountain Goat Coaching consists of four riders who are all coached and trained by Mountain Goat Coaching’s Dan Small.

James Edmond - Image ©Jack Tennyson

James Edmond – Image ©Jack Tennyson

The team is also supported by Springhill Water Services Ltd.

Dan, an experienced British Cycling Coach, launched the Mountain Goat Coaching business in 2014. With over 10 years’ experience in sport science, coaching and writing bespoke training programmes, Dan’s “don’t be a sheep” philosophy of coaching focuses on helping individuals to develop in a way that best suits their specific needs.

Dan sees the launch of Team Mountain Goat Coaching as a logical next step: “Although the riders have very individual preparation programmes, the team regularly comes together to train and develop in an environment where they are encouraged to not only support one another, but also challenge one another’s comfort zones in a constructive way to help each other develop as better riders both on and off the bike.”

L-R Miles Worner, Nick Hamilton, Matt Wilson, James Edmond - Image ©Jack Tennyson

L-R Miles Worner, Nick Hamilton, Matt Wilson, James Edmond – Image ©Jack Tennyson

The team consists of four XC Mountain Bike Riders who are targeting the British Mountain Bike Series (BMBS) and the British National Championships. With a good spread across the age categories the team is made up of Matt Wilson (Grand Vet), James Edmond (U23/Expert), Miles Worner (Junior) and Nick Hamilton (Youth).

Video Analysis - Image ©Jack Tennyson

Video Analysis – Image ©Jack Tennyson

The team recently returned from a busy three-day pre-season training camp in Wales and are looking forward to taking to the start line for their first races of the new season. The team’s 2015 campaign begins on Sunday 22nd March on the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games course at the first round of the Scottish XC Series (SXC). From there the team head to Round 1 of the BMBS at Sherwood Pines the following weekend.

In addition to the 4 mountain bikers forming Team Mountain Coaching in 2015, a number of other up-and-coming riders are currently receiving support from Mountain Goat Coaching, with Dan also helping riders develop in Road, Track, Downhill MTB and Cyclo-Cross. For more information on the team and Mountain Goat Coaching visit www.mountaingoat.bike or follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/mountaingoat.bike

Women’s Cycling – A Grassroots’ Perspective

Women's Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

Women’s Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

 

The Women’s Tour hits Britain for the first time this week, with some of the best international female riders racing for the first time in the UK since the 2012 Olympic Games.

There has been a large amount of media coverage in relation to this and for good reason.

However, anybody who believes that women’s domestic cycling has made a huge move forwards in the UK is sadly mistaken.  Yes, there is a Women’s Tour, which offers parity on prize money and conditions with that of the Tour of Britain, but the reality is that, for the moment at least, any woman who races on the UK domestic scene and is not part of the Great Britain performance programme (which is a track-based programme), is highly unlikely to get the opportunity to ride in the likes of the Women’s Tour and La Course by the TDF.

Ultimately, women’s cycling in the UK is still a side show, an afterthought.  Despite Brian Cookson setting up a women’s commission at the UCI, there is no such thing within the UK.  Whilst some of the greatest female cyclists are arriving in the UK to take part in the inaugural Women’s Tour, the women who race on the domestic scene will quite often find themselves being put with the novice fourth category men, which is an experience that is unlikely to entice the women to come back the following week!  There are a few committed people in the cycling scene who disproportionately hard to be inclusive towards women’s participation, however, these are few and far between, and lack key support.

Women's Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

Women’s Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

Nobody can deny that the Breeze programme has been a success in so far as it encourages more women to ride bikes.  But the Breeze programme is based on participation, not competition, and there is no real pathway to bridge between the two. The strategy as far as competition is concerned is practically non-existent, despite the numbers that British Cycling quote in relation to the increase in licences.  Ultimately, women’s competitive cycling in the UK on the domestic scene is an amateur sport, which means that it is run by volunteers. There is no money for “competition” because despite what you read (which can seem like propaganda quite honestly), cycling is run by men ergo the sport will always be seen from a male perspective.

So, what is the way forward?

Well, it is true, there has been progress in the last 12 months, with many more road racing opportunities for women, but these forward-thinking organisers need our help and support. Domestic events are all run by volunteers and everybody who wants to race (whether they are male or female) has to understand that it costs money to put a race on – if a race can’t at a minimum break even, then why should an organiser make a loss?

One problem with the circuit races that seem to be prolific in the UK for women is that they cost very little to run – there is a levy per entry (approximately £4 per rider) and then you have the hire of the circuit (usually between £50 and £150 depending on how long you need the circuit for) and the expenses of the commissaires for attending (usually two at closed circuit) and the first aider, but nothing much besides.  This means that you can have five riders in an event and potentially break even.

Road racing, on the other hand, can be expensive – not only do you have the levy per rider, but you then also have first aid, National Escort Group (motorbike marshals), petrol money for all officials who use their cars, for the lead car and neutral service (the cost of which increases the longer the race), as well as the hire of the headquarters.  Before you know it, the cost of putting on an event is at £350 and that’s before you add in prize money.  So that means that you need at least 25 to 30 riders before you even start to break even.

Women's Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

Women’s Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

So please, ladies, if you want to have road races in your region, please give the organisers the support they deserve and enter in advance as often as you can afford to and don’t rely on the ability to turn up and enter on the day (the latter will hopefully become more difficult as racing gets more popular and races fill up in advance).  There have been far too many races this season that have been cancelled or nearly cancelled due to lack of rider entries – you need to take some responsibility and enter in advance – our sport is run by volunteers who cannot afford to make a loss, so please enter in good time!

My final point reverts back to the fact that competitive cycling is run, for the most part, by men.  Until such time that women start to volunteer in larger numbers, whether that be as race officials or race organisers, and start to make their voices heard by taking their place on the Regional British Cycling Boards, there will be no significant changes.  I appreciate that for most people, offering to organise a race or becoming an official can be a daunting task, and I will have more news in the coming weeks for people who want to do just that.

Ultimately, women’s cycling is becoming more popular, we just need to ensure that it continues to grow in the correct way on a domestic level.

 

 

 

Lewis Balyckyi Memorial Crits

It’s been a few years since bike racing hit the Prom in Blackpool, but this year the Lewis Balyckyi Memorial Crits have left the Palatine circuit and have moved on to the Prom at Bispham.  Further details can be found below:

Blackpool Crits Flyer 2014Organiser Jerrod Hartley has been working extremely hard behind the scenes to secure the use of the Prom to ensure that the day will be one not to be missed!  All profits from the races and the raffle will go towards the Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund, which is a registered charity (registered charity number 1150807) that raises money to help aspiring athletes fulfill their dreams and potential as cyclists.

The event is supported by Smiths Equipment Hire who have a variety of offers for those supporting the event, which are detailed below:

A5 Cycling Support Advert_v2

 

If this event sounds like something you want to get involved in, you can enter on the British Cycling website at https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/106716/The-Lewis-Balyckyi-Memorial-Crits-2014

You can also keep up to date with news of the event via Facebook or Twitter

A day out in Blackpool racing on the Prom! What’s not to like?

Road Racing : the next steps – Rider Etiquette

Everybody’s bought their licences and they’re raring to go at the start of the season.  This article relates to anybody who wants to have a go at racing on the open roads…

First thing that I want you to take a look at is the first 30 seconds or so of the following clip from Dirty Dancing (yes, I am serious):

You may all think that I have totally lost the plot, but Patrick Swayze makes two important comments:

  1. “Spaghetti arms” – the need to keep your [body’s] frame locked and your head up;
  2. “Dance space” – Jennifer Grey (as the amateur dancer) keeps encroaching on his space, to which he states “I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine”.

Yes, I get that the late Lord Patrick of Swayze is going on about doing a rumba; or whatever dance he is teaching her – I have only ever danced a rumba to “Hungry Eyes” (I’m not joking, either), so I don’t want anyone to correct me on the dance please, but it’s an important lesson to anybody who is contemplating racing on the open road in a road race.


Spaghetti Arms

Keeping your arms relaxed but in control of your handlebars is very important, as is keeping your head up.  Time and time again you see riders in a bunch who aren’t in control of their bike properly.  Some think it’s cool to ride either none-handed or with their wrists balancing on their handlebars in the middle of a bunch.  Sorry, my friends, this is not “cool”.  I don’t care if you see Grand Tour riders doing it on Eurosport – that is not appropriate behaviour in a local bike race in the UK, when there is oncoming traffic on the opposite side of the road.

 

“Dance Space”

More often than not, riders think that it is somehow appropriate to move themselves into a gap that is actually non-existent.  If you were driving a car along a dual carriageway and there was a vehicle in each lane, you wouldn’t drive up the middle of the cars, so why ride into a “gap” that doesn’t exist?  And saying “inside” to the rider who is on the left hand side in the gutter isn’t the same as saying  “barleys” – where you can do what you want because it doesn’t matter as you won’t get any bad luck because you’ve crossed your fingers.  Errr.  No. Sorry, that doesn’t work.

Dirty Dancing

Actions have consequences

Okay, you might think that I am having a rant because somebody brought me off on Sunday and that I should just shut up because “crashing is part of racing”.  Fair enough, I understand the risks, having raced (on and off) since 1993, but I am not convinced some people understand the consequences of racing on the open road.  The closed circuits that British Cycling have built are great tools for learning skills and act as an entry into racing, but people seem to apply the same racing rules to the open road as they do to closed road circuits.  There’s a major difference that seems to pass people by – oncoming traffic.  This means that if you push your way into a gap that doesn’t exist, the rider who has to make way for you then has to move elsewhere, which often means that they have to ride on the wrong side of the road, or hit the cats eyes that mark the middle of the road, which can then lead to issues in itself.

 

It’s not just the women…

Historically, women’s racing on a domestic level has been littered with crashes (partly due to the large difference of abilities that you can find when catering for “women” as a whole), but the numbers of crashes in the local men’s races (in the North West at least) is increasing at an alarming rate.  More often than not, crashes occur because people stop concentrating (if only for a nano-second), which leads to a touch of wheels, people braking and then a domino effect occurring behind the culprit.  Or the person on the front decides that they don’t want to be on the front anymore and swings across the front of the bunch, without looking before making the manoeuvre (I saw that happen with my own eyes on Sunday), or just slams on for no apparent reason.

 

(c) http://martinholdenphotography.com

Mutual Respect

If you have ever watched the professionals racing on the TV, for the most part you will see riders giving each other space – they respect each other as riders and as fellow professionals – they will give each other space on descents, especially – and any crashes (except the bizarre like Jonny Hoogerland’s in the Tour de France) tend to happen either in the last few kilometres when teams are jostling for position in the lead up to a sprint finish, or due to street furniture (roundabouts, bollards, etc) when the roads become really narrow.  The latter shouldn’t happen in a domestic race in the UK because of risk assessments being carried out.

Admittedly, there can be potholes and puddles and grids (we live in the UK after all), so let people know if there’s an issue that you can see, including oncoming traffic – communication is the key in these instances.

 

The Moral to the Story

If you only take a few things away from this article, I hope that they are:

  1. Give your fellow competitors room;
  2. Treat everybody with respect;
  3. Remember that every action (however minor it may seem to you) has a consequence;
  4. Never stop concentrating when riding in a bunch.

The above are my observations from racing with men and women.  Crashing is an expensive option both economically (I consider myself lucky from the crash I had on Sunday, but practically every item of clothing that I had on was wrecked, including a brand new helmet and a pair of Oakleys, which if I wanted to replace it all would cost in the region of £750 – and that’s not including the cost of fixing my bike) and physically (I headbutted the floor at 22 mph and have injuries to most parts of my body, although they are mostly cuts and bruises – the guys who came off in the men’s race weren’t as lucky and have broken bones and written-off bikes) and therefore, in my humble opinion, should be avoided at all costs – which means looking out for each other.  Incidentally, for the majority of us, we have to get up and go to work the following day (you know, so that you can pay for the bike riding) or go home to look after dependents (whether that’s kids or other halves!) – you can’t do either if you’re smashed to bits.

 

Finally…

Let’s keep the #partyontheroad safe, so that everybody can enjoy the party after the race and remember – nobody puts Baby in a corner…

 

Until next time…

 

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