Cycle clubs embrace next generation
TWO Northern Rivers cycling clubs are hoping to encourage the next generation of competitive riders and perhaps uncover a Cadel Evans or Anna Meares along the way.
The Byron Bay Cycle Club and Ballina Bicycle Club are each expanding their membership and looking to be more inclusive, particularly with younger cyclists.
The clubs have a close relationship with each other, with members having a friendly rivalry and regularly competing in their various races and attending social rides and events.
Byron Bay Cycle Club president, Kumar Rajaratnam, said the club had recently received $2000 from the Byron Bay Services Club to get more youngsters on two wheels.
Rajaratnam said as a former competitor, parent, accredited road cycling coach and commissaire (race official), he understood the challenges parents and youngster face when it comes to the sport and he welcomed the Active Kids vouchers which will soon be recognised for cycling.
"Cycling is a difficult and expensive sport for kids to get into,” he said.
"As the cost of bikes can be prohibitive, so this junior participation grant from the Byron Bay Services Club will allow us to purchase bikes for youngsters to try before they commit, and bring in some riders to the club.”
Byron Bay Services Club manager David Green said the club was thrilled to support the riders.
"We were only too happy to jump on that board when Kumar approached us,” he said.
"It's our way to get out in the community and give a hand helping out those who need support.”
At the BBC, vice-president Andrew Downey said cycling is all about being inclusive to the community.
He said the club which has encompassed the firmer Ballina Masters Cycling Club, is all about engaging people from all walks of life who love cycling.
"At the moment 60 per cent of our members are registered for racing and we also hold social and training rides,” he said.
"While the Ballina Masters Club had older riders, the BBC's demographic is more diverse, with a lower average age and it's great we are getting out there to a wider variety of people.”
Downey said cycling is an inclusive sport, so the BBC which has grown to around 43 members in its first 12 months, is also focussing on getting more young blood on two wheels.
"The only way to succeed is to start as you mean to go on,” he said.
”To get good outcomes you need to set out to encourage new members, including junior riders. We have accountants, lawyers, shopkeepers, students, teenagers through to octogenarians.”
Riders of any kind of bicycle and any level or expertise were welcome to join the BBC he said.
"There's also a good focus on our social events and no-drop, no hurt-locker social rides,” he said.
"There are rides and races for everybody.”