This post comes from Wilko. Prepare to be challenged(!), and feel free to add comments on this issue.
With many years associated with the Armidale Cycling Club I do think we may be losing some direction in what has made this Club special – and that is the real strength in a Club is not our best rider, it is our slowest rider, eg the new and the young. I now see our Tuesday and Thursday, and in some ways Sunday rides, not catering for such a rider.
I have just introduced two juniors to the Thursday night ride. While Reece and Jillian now have the ability to stay with the bunch traveling at speed, they are still very short on experience at bunch riding, day or night – this being their first night ride. I would like to put this question to the group that was in attendance last Thursday (17 April) – did any of them say to themselves “we have two new juniors here tonight that are trying to learn the trade of cycling, let’s slow down a little, let’s take more care, let’s not put them under too much pressure as to fatigue them, and in turn maybe cause an accident? If they were to be dropped, let’s slow down and wait. Let’s spend a few rides helping them settle in, as someone did for us a year or two back.” If no-one can answer “yes” to this question, maybe I am right. We are indeed losing our direction.
While in the winter months I do think that the night rides should be for those that have reasonable ability, but with consideration still given to those at the bottom end of that ability. For example, juniors or senior riders returning from injury.
As most member of the Club would know, myself and a few dedicated seniors have on Tuesdays and Thursdays been taking out a group of juniors in the Under 17 and Under 15 age groups to prepare them for the senior level. These sessions have been mostly skill-based. We have not concentrated on fitness training much at all. This was brought about because we felt that this sort of skill-based training could no longer be conducted on the normal Club rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays as they seem to have taken on more the Tuesday/Thursday race day – with “how fast can we ride, how fast can we hill climb and sprint” – Robbie McEwen look out! Thank goodness we all slow down on Saturday “race” day – dead set, it is easier racing than keeping up on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I would like to see Tuesday and Thursdays return in the summer months to this type of skills training. This way the juniors and the learner can join us as a Club and not have to be separated. This will require slower riding at times but you will be surprised how quickly riders improve. (We started the summer riding at about 18 kph, we are now doing roll-throughs at about 45 kph at times). If we return to this form of skills training just maybe it will prevent some of the unnecessary accidents that are happening at racing and on some Club rides. So I ask these questions once again – Is a Club as strong as its slowest rider, or fastest? Do you think we are losing direction? Is the whole Club catering for learners, juniors and women riders? Al and Dave have done great work in this area in the last couple of years, but where do these riders go from the track? How many women and juniors have you seen or noticed on the Tuesday/Thursday rides or Sunday rides? ….and yes, we all know how fast you are, but have you got the skills required to back this up in racing?