Free mountain bike sessions for kids this summer

Posted on August 1, 2010 by


Fun in the sun!

It was the final week of term for schools in Sheffield and what better way to spend a couple of days – riding bikes at Parkwood Springs.  Parkwood Springs is the public park that has been earmarked for Sheffield’s first urban mountain biking development, funding has been secured and work will start building the trails in the autumn of this year.  The trail will be open access and free to use and the steering group is keen to encourage use by communities, families, schools, youth groups and young people from across the city. 

But enough of that, you want to hear about young people having fun on their bikes.  Schools Sports Partnership’s Craig Malkin invited four schools from the local area to try out a variety of different activities.

Ed and Alex from Recycle Bikes brought along their ‘North Shore’ track to help students to hone their mountain biking skills.  The young people progressed from weaving through cones and controlled braking in a stop box, to learning about the ‘attack position’ (knees and arms bent, pedals level and stay loose!), before finally riding the elevated wooden tracks, see-saws and narrow balance beams.  Great bike handling skills were required to clear the course without putting a foot down but there were more than a few students managed this feat.

Rob Mawhood of Sheffield Stars Cycle Speedway Club was also there.  The speedway club is being supported by Bike Club to roll out a series of winter training events so it was great to have them there generating enthusiasm for this fantastic type of cycling.  A 75 metre oval course was laid out on the grass and students raced in groups of 4 against each other.  Rob was great at passing on his skills and experience in the sport which demands great riding skills as these bikes have no brakes and no gears.  To say it was competitive would be an understatement and no doubt some of the young people will be attending the winter coaching sessions and hopefully joining the club.

Also involved were Henry and Ruth, Sheffield’s two Sustrans Bike-It Officers.  Henry and Ruth engaged the young people with their wide variety of games all designed to help them handle their bikes in a safe and controlled manner.  There were slow races, slalom courses, limbo competitions and coaching on cycling downhill on a mountain bike as ably demonstrated by Henry.

The final activity was a 200 metre cross-country mountain biking circuit through the woods.  This was run by CTC’s Sheffield Cycle Champion, Steve Marsden and Jon Dallow who is a Woodland Project Officer with Sheffield City Council, and who is also the driving force behind the urban mountain biking development.

Firstly, Steve and Jon walked the course with the students, offering advice on line choice, potential hazards to look out for and use of body position to climb, descend and corner more effectively.  It was then on to the bikes to ride round as a group, with advice again from Jon and Steve.  This culminated in students setting as quick a time as they could over 3 laps; it was like an alpine downhill event as James and Darren from the council’s Parks and Countryside Team banged drums, rattled tin cups and generally shouted words of encouragement.  The times were quick, the adreneline pumping and judging by the smiles, a great time was being had by all.

Steve Marsden of the Cycling Champions Project said: “It was great to see the enthusiasm of the students who took part in the festival and I hope it will encourage them to use the new mountain biking course when it’s built. I’m sure it will be a great facility to encourage local young people to get active outdoors. “Not only did the students have a great time I think everybody who worked the two days enjoyed it too. It just shows that working with partners who want the same end result can make it happen and make it a good experience for all involved.”

This summer young people can improve their mountain bike skills in the ‘Kids Can Do’ sessions being held in five locations across the city and these have already proved to be popular with young riders.

The remaining sessions are at Cookswood Road between 1 and 4.30pm on 5, 19 and 26 August; Bole Hill Woods in Walkley between 1.30 and 4.30pm on 2 August; Woolley Woods in Ecclesfield from 1.30 to 4.30pm on 3 August; and two sessions at Chapeltown Park Wood on 4 August from 10am to 12 noon and 1.30 to 4.30pm. There will be some bikes for use or bring your own, but wear suitable outdoor clothing that may get muddy and grubby!

All sessions are free, so contact Jon Dallow on 0114 2500 500 or 203 7756 for more details or to book a place.

Taken from the CTC Bike Club Blog (posted by Gavin Wood 28/7/2010)