Wheels turning to boost Yarmouth cycling

Great Yarmouth Cycling Club have taken delivery of �4,500 worth of top-quality road racing bikes for its EasyStart programme which aims to attract children and adults safely into cycling.

The bikes form part of a grant from Sport England to the club to develop cycle sport in the town. The programme runs for the first time during November at the Great Yarmouth Stadium.

It’s been a great year for cycling in Great Yarmouth with the Tour of Britain coming to town and club membership going through the roof as more people recognise that cycling is a fantastic way of getting fitter, sustaining a healthy lifestyle change and enjoying the quiet lanes surrounding the town.

Club development officer Neil Turner said: “It’s been an amazing year for the club. Our membership is soaring, and while many enjoy our leisurely social rides we have also developed into a new force in local time trials and road races.

“For the first time in many years the club records look like they are under threat and we have had a resurgence of young and older riders at local events. At the Tour of Britain we co-hosted with SUSTRANS, a local schools’ racing championship. The children loved it and told us they wanted more.”

Cycling has really taken off at local schools thanks to the SUSTRANS Bike-IT scheme which aims to transform the number of children and staff riding their bikes to school.

Kevin House, Great Yarmouth Bike It Officer, has managed to achieve up to 400 per cent increase in the number of journeys made by bike in the schools he has worked with.

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Kevin commented “It’s been a remarkable 12 months for local Bike It schools and now we want to build upon this and support GYCC to offer young people and adults the chance to experience cycle sport at the traffic-free circuit at Great Yarmouth Stadium. The kids just love pegging it around a track, learning new skills and racing each other.”

Neil Turner added: “We wanted to create a stepping stone from leisure and commuter riding into cycle sport. Kevin helped us produce the EasyStart funding proposal and we have worked with him on local inter-schools racing tournaments and after-school clubs.

“The icing on the cake was the use of the fantastic Great Yarmouth Stadium as our coaching and training venue. It allows us to help new riders into the sport, build their confidence and skills without the hassle of traffic.

“We are grateful to Great Yarmouth Stadium and Sport England in making this possible. Now we need to find and develop the next Sir Chris Hoy or Bradley Wiggins as payback!”

The club has high hopes for one of its latest recruits; 11 year old Zak Coleman from Caister. He is already in the top echelon of local riders and is looking to target next year’s national triathlon and national road racing championships.

Turner adds “Zak has done amazingly well this year and we want to build a team of young riders alongside him. Cycling is a team sport and we aim to build an u12 and u16 academy team using the EasyStart programme as a catalyst”.

The EasyStart programme, which is aimed at adults as well as children, is a remarkable offering for the town as Neil Turner goes on to explain. “Having talked to schools and adult riders we quickly understood that the two major barriers to attracting new blood into cycle sport were the amount of traffic on our roads and the cost of buying a specialist bike before you got started - our EasyStart programme eliminates both these problems!

“Just join the club, come and ride our state-of-art road bikes at the safe off-road Stadium circuit and receive at least four quality coaching sessions to get you started. You even get to use our helmets and clothing.”

The first EasyStart programme starts on Saturday, November 6 and runs for the following three Saturdays.

There are 36 places available across the three one-hour sessions that run at 9am, 10am and 11am

The bikes are in a range of children and adult sizes and both male and female styles.

Entry forms can be downloaded from the club website or by post from club chairman Norman Harlow on 01493 652183. Places must be booked in advance.

Thereafter there is a fortnightly programme at the Great Yarmouth Stadium. The EasyStart programme will run several times each year – the following one being March 2011.

EasyStart is completely free to new club members and membership starts at �7.50 per annum for the u18s and concessions, or �15 for adults.

When new riders decide to invest in a bike, club sponsor Pedal Revolution Cycles offers club members a discounted range of road bikes for all ages, abilities and pockets.

See www.greatyarmouthcycling club.co.uk for details.