With the end of the year quickly descending upon us, many organizations like Cycling Southland are in review/preview mode - reviewing the good, the bad and the ugly from the year that’s been and planning for 2013. Fortunately for cycling there has been plenty of good and, aside from some bloke Armstrong, not a lot of ugly.
Whilst the flag-ship events including our recent PowerNet Tour of Southland and the SIT-sponsored UCI Juniors Track World Championships are the big, shiny things most people remember, the work I am most proud of is at the club and entry levels of the sport.
To see the numbers coming through our beginner programmes on the track and road is really heartening. It is a real focus for us in the year ahead with an aim of continuing to make it easier for people to get on a bike with us and then to develop their skills to whatever level they desire.
The corner-stone of this is our soon-to-launch Pedaling Pathway. This is our new road rider education and development programme and for those new to the sport, (and those a little more experienced,) it will provide the skills and knowledge to achieve your cycling goals – whether that is to cycle around the block or to win a national title.
We are also aiming to significantly expand our hugely successful Learn to Ride programme in Southland primary schools. This is a wonderful partnership with Sport Southland and KiwiSport and our good mates at the Southland MTB and BMX clubs and it is at this level where our team is really making a difference.
Over the six weeks of the programme there are kids who have hardly been on a bike who are throwing away trainer wheels and have a new found confidence and a whole heap of fun along the way. We can’t wait to get to more primary schools next year.
Short story is there are some pretty exciting plans to capitalize on the high profile our sport has enjoyed over the past year, so be warned - you can expect to hear plenty more from us to join us for a ride.
Whilst on the topic of things new, the latest UCI World Cup round in Glasgow this past weekend showed that the four-year changing of the guard which accompanies the Olympic Games cycle has already started.
The most notable examples were in New Zealand’s sole representative in Scotland, 17-year-old Dylan Kennett, riding his way to fourth in the Men’s Individual Pursuit on Sunday and Great Britain’s Elinor Barker who, like Kennett, shone brightly at the Junior Worlds in Invercargill in August, partnering with World and Olympic champions Laura Trott and Dani King to win the Women’s Team Pursuit gold on Saturday.
We’ll get a first hand look at the new wave of talent at the Elite and Under-19 Track Nationals at Stadium Southland Velodrome from January 31st. That will be a fitting way to start another new year.
Nick Jeffrey is the Chief Executive of Cycling Southland