A couple of our Hub members are also National Standard Bike Instructors so here’s where the exciting overlap in bike provisions occurs.
Transport for Greater Manchester are currently running a huge campaign across all 10 boroughs to dramatically increase volumes of everyday cyclists. They have funding to provide a plethora of free training for everyone – from learning to ride – to advanced road cycling support – to maintenance workshops – to ride leader training; they’ve got it all covered – and of course we were especially delighted when a full day of beginner sessions came to Platt Fields Park.
We met at The Hub on a beautiful raging hot morning – the red faced panting park runners slowly dispersed, scruntinising their times against one another as we pulled out the handsome fleet of bicycles that TfGM provide for the sessions. We positioned them in a line that resembled a cool motorbike gang and soon appeared handfuls of cheery soon-to-be-cyclists, approaching from every angle – to meet us outside our beloved bike space. The fascinating & consistent observation about the participants in these sessions is that there is no pattern, we work with people across the board – the most predominant fluctuation being age; with decades in between the clients at times.
The atmosphere was reticent at first – with every person sharing a different story, or feeling the fear from past experiences with some people expressing that they were overcoming big personal challenges by turning up. It feels great to put people at ease & warm them into the sessions gently – a few jokes & chuckling [bike related of course] gets us through the helmet & bicycle safety checks until the instructors observe that people are ready to give pedalling a go.
We split into groups depending on experience and how people are feeling – recognising the importance for participants to get to know their instructors & build up decent levels of trust has proved imperative to a successful cycle session. We take it slowly, run through the motions and pretty much by the end of the first hour, everyone is spinning those wheels and whooping for joy. Some of the more confident groups take to the glorious depths of the open park & explore new realms of independence – testing their fitness to the full & gasping with relief and shear joy. As instructors, we have to remember not to get too emotional – but we’ll be there whooping right by their sides and enjoying the pleasure of experiencing as if for the first time, that thrill of mastering the bicycle.
The Hub are talking sweetly to TfGM about some regular open sessions like these to happen in the park so we can develop some courses & put the park on a novice cycling platform to really get these local communities pedalling – watch this space.