It’s one thing to be a bit nervous about my ride leadership training – and exciting at the same time – with all the information that I had received beforehand, the tens of hours of online modules, structure of the day, and what to expect, had helped calm those nerves down.
When I arrived at the Queens School in Bushey, I met my tutors, Simon and Kate, who were very welcoming and showed us all to the tea, coffee and yummy biscuits. As we started, Simon invited us all to talk a little about our background and what had brought us to the world of Ride Leadership and all things cycling. A few of us shared our stories, and it felt very empowering to discover the paths of my fellow riders had taken. I shared my own story, which was well received, and felt very supported and proud to be a part of SJ Cycling.
We were 10 in attendance, all very friendly and quite excited, whilst one rider came from as far as Brighton – what dedication!
We then moved on to the theory part of the day. This is where the fun starts (and I thought I was done with school!). We discussed the remit of RL1, the importance of safety and ‘M’ checks, how to lead, deliver and review rides, and how we would be assessed later. After a short break, we moved on to the exciting part of the session – riding!
Simon took us to the empty secluded playground area of the school where we showed us what ‘M’ checks are and let us ride in different group positions and strategies – I think he just wanted to see if we could ride a bike in the first place (lol). Another practical activity awaited us later that day.
It was lunch, so we made our way back in to the classroom, took our lunches out and baraza’d for about 30 minutes. I started chatting to Kate, she was super impressed with the amount of progress and initiative the SJ Ladies team have taken to promote cycling, and literally, she was all praises. (Great job Iffat, Fatim and Team!)
It was then time for the second half of the day. We discussed managing risks and emergencies and some team exercises – I sooo underestimated the preparations required prior to a ride as with every ride, it has to be planned, route assessed prior to ride day, risks and hazards noted and managed accordingly for the safety of the riders and more – no mean feat.
Next up came the practical element. We set out (complete with our many multiple layers cycling attire) to complete a few laps of the local roads as one mass group to experience the rider leader and rear ride leader roles at first hand. Having a chance to then review this in the classroom, and reflect on lessons learnt.
The last hour and a bit was spent on to the crucial job of planning great routes to ride. We brainstormed in groups and came up with all the elements we felt made a ‘good route’. The ideas were varied – helping me to expand my assumptions of what a good ride should be. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that a common theme was definitely a café stop!
Overall, I found the course an extremely enjoyable experience and wholly rewarding day. I now look forward to more members of our cycling community to take advantage of the brilliant resources British Cycling has to offer, and for those that haven’t thought about cycling – take a step, this is the start of a wonderful journey.