Bike champions weekend!

Last month 11 of our our secondary school 'Bike Champions' spent a weekend away with our Go ByCycle team in the Cairngorms National Park. The following blog post was written by four of the crew as part of an evening session at the cafe. For more information on our outreach work with schools, click here.

Velocity came along to our schools at lunch times doing bike skills and bike maintenance. The students who came along and were very enthusiastic were chosen to be Bike Champions for the school. There are 3 bike champions from each school. They will get tools and bike stands in school to help the other students with their bikes, if they are broken and need fixed.

The bike champions from each secondary school in Inverness (11 bike champions) went to Badaguish for the weekend to learn bike maintenance, go on mountain bike rides and do bike orienteering. With the Bike Champions having these skills and enthusiasm they can encourage and support their school-mates to cycle to school, instead of getting a lift by car or bus!

On Saturday morning, we went to the Badaguish store where we collected a water bottle, waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, gloves, helmet, fleece and a bike - everything we needed for a bike ride. After lunch, we went biking around Glenmore lodge and down to Loch Morlich on a mixture of forest roads and single track. We practised our braking, learning about leaning back to stay in control and not to skid. After five hours, we got really tired  and made our way back to Badaguish.    


On the Sunday we did bike orienteering for the whole afternoon. Basically you are on a bike trying to get to as many checkpoints as you can before the time runs out, using a map. We worked in pairs, and we got to explore while being a bit lost.

Our biking got better over the weekend and we left Badaguish more excited about going riding when we got back home.

When we woke up (pretty early) on the saturday morning we had a long day ahead of us.  Not only would we be cycling but we would also be doing some bike maintenance training.
The training had three purposes:
1. To develop our own personal skills so that we would be able to fix any issues we had while out cycling.
2. To work towards our VELOTECH award.
3. To train us to a level where we would be able to help others with bike maintenance.

As part of the Bike Champions program we are to have tools and bike stands at our school so that we can help others with their cycling problems.  And let’s face it there isn’t much point in having them if nobody knows how to use them.
The maintenance training we were doing on Saturday morning was to introduce us to various parts of a bike. We split into two groups with each doing things slightly differently, so I’ll just tell you about the group I was in.  We began by standing around a bike stand (with a bike attached) and various parts of the bike were pointed out to us.  We went around looking at the wheels, gears, handlebars and frame and by the end we felt pretty clued up.  
Time for a test.

There were sports cones laid out across the area and each one had a piece of paper underneath it.  The pieces of paper each had the name of a bike part on them.  We split into pairs and had to run to a cone one at a time. Having retrieved a part name we had to get back to the bike and point out where that piece was.  We had to get every part named in the shortest time possible, the quickest pair won… We’re quite a competitive bunch.

Having familiarised ourselves with the parts of a bike we then moved on to puncture repair. this would have to be brief since we wanted to get out cycling. We were quickly shown how to repair punctures and were then guided through the process individually which also involved taking wheels on and off.  That was the last planned bit of bike maintenance for Saturday but, unfortunately for me, it wasn’t the last.
We had only just set off on our bike ride and luckily one of the other kids with on the weekend pointed out that my tyre wasn’t seated properly.  This was a mistake I had made while we were doing puncture repair.  It was lucky that we knew how to repair this as I would have had no idea how to do so before.
On the Sunday morning we did some paperwork.  For our velotech awards we had to meet certain objectives.  This involved making sure that we had done certain things and that we had done those things a certain amount of times.  Having had a look at these objectives we took note of what we still had to do.  There were a couple of us that still needed to prove they could remove wheels but our main task for sunday was puncture repair.
Once we had done this our bike maintenance training was complete!
I found that learning about bike maintenance was not only incredibly helpful but really good fun.  I personally feel that this will help us out immensely as the bike champions program continues, especially when we are helping others.  

When we met on the Friday night, we were all really awkward with each other. We only spoke to people that we knew. Then we played some games to get to know each other a bit better. After that we felt more relaxed and started talking to one and other. We worked together by splitting into groups when we were learning about the bike maintenance. We were talking loads when we were out on the ride, we got to know each other & had a laugh! By Sunday it felt like we had known each other for a week. We were a great team!!

It was an awesome weekend. We learnt loads of stuff about bike parts, fixing punctures & pulling wheelies. We’d love for Velocity to run a residential again - and invite us all along!!

Click play on the video above to see a slideshow of the weekend.