In her latest blog, Laura reflects on her day training to join the ranks of inspirational Breeze Champions.
It’s one thing to be a bit nervous about my ride leader training – all the helpful information I’d received beforehand about the structure of the day, and what to expect, had helped assuage those fears. But it’s quite another thing to find the training’s taking place on what’s forecast as one of the coldest days in February, complete with a spluttering of snowflakes in the air! But with plenty of layers packed ‘just in case’, and a packed lunch to keep me going, I reckon I was prepared for anything.
When I arrived I met the tutors, Rob and Zoe, who were very welcoming and showed us all to the tea and coffee. To begin, Zoe invited us to talk a little about our backgrounds and what had brought us to the world of Breeze rides. A few of us shared our stories, and it felt very empowering to discover the paths my fellow riders had taken. I shared my own eventful story, which was received very well, and felt very supported and proud to be a part of Breeze. The women riding with me were of all ages, abilities and levels; I was very lucky to have sat next to a lovely lady in her 60s, who not only was completing her Ride Leader training that day, but had previously completed the Bikeability training course and was already offering Bikeability sessions to her local schools. I hope I can perform at the same level when I’m her age!
We then moved on to the theory part of the day. We discussed the remit of Breeze, the importance of safety and warm-up checks, how to lead a ride and how we’d be assessed later. After a short break, we moved 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 cake stop or coffee shop!
Next up came the practical element. We set out (complete with our many multiple layers of clothing, gloves and Buffs) to perform our bike, helmet and clothing checks. Zoe and Rob made the most of the obvious experience in the room by letting some of the riders who had knowledge in these areas teach their peers, with the tutors pitching in where any extra comment was needed. This further served to create a relaxing atmosphere for the practical element.
After a few laps of the tennis courts to check our own ability, we completed a lap of the local roads as one mass group to experience the ride leader and rear ride leader roles at first hand. Having a chance to then review this in the classroom, and reflect on anything we would do differently were we the ride leader, really helped support and consolidate the theory part of the day.
‘the tutor support and feedback was encouraging, and more than enough to spur me on to success’
Finally, we split into two groups – each with a tutor to assess us – and completed our ride practicals. Within our groups, we rode the local roads, each having a go at the ride leader and rear ride leader roles. I found the tutor support and feedback was encouraging, and more than enough to spur me on to success. This had been the part I was most apprehensive about, as I can be nervous about roads I’m unsure of, but I really needn’t have worried.
We eventually returned to the classroom to thaw out and reflect – summarising the day with our thoughts and evaluations and signing away on the dotted line to complete our learning.
All in all, I found the course an extremely enjoyable and wholly rewarding day. I’m motivated by the women I learned alongside, and proud to have been a part of the Breeze Champion training – I just hope I can now use my knowledge and skills to inspire more women to fall in love with cycling, as Breeze has done for me.
Laura took part in a British Cycling Ride Leadership Award Level 1 training course. Fancy having a go yourself? Find out more about training as a Ride Leader or Breeze Champion.