British Cycling’s Programmes Officer Rowen Ratcliffe is finding the best routes and the best leaders to get the nation cycling in 2017.
I’m part of the team working with partners and volunteers to shape and run the best ride programmes we can, to get more people out cycling. Based at British Cycling HQ in Manchester, we plan on-the-ground activity in all regions of the UK.
My day-to-day work hasn’t exactly been following its usual course lately though. At the end of last year I was involved with testing the new Let’s Ride website – in particular, making sure it works for all our volunteers who use it to create rides and share their progress with us. It was a pretty hard slog, and it’s fair to say that the Christmas break came at just the right time!
After a little rest and recuperation over the New Year (and, for me, plenty of cycling and running besides) we’re now hard at work fixing those last few bugs, but the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to appear. The feedback on the new site has thankfully been great so far. It makes all those hours testing, tweaking and tearing our hair out worthwhile!
The hard work doesn’t stop there, though – quite the opposite in fact. I look after all of our partnerships in the South East of England, including London, and recently I’ve been focussing on how our new-look programme of guided rides will work, including gathering ideas for a few great new routes.
Guided rides are a really important part of what we offer, because they’re an easy way for people to get out on their bikes in a friendly group. Not everyone is up for joining a cycling club, and not everyone wants to bother with researching the best routes to ride on their own. So that’s where we come in. Every year we train volunteer ride leaders and route planners, and together we plan a brilliant mix of rides in areas across the country.
This year we’ve taken the best bits from rides we’ve run in the past, and combined them with a few things which both Ride Leaders and riders have wanted for a while. I’m really excited to see the new programme come to fruition over the coming months.
Meanwhile Breeze continues to go from strength to strength, and it’s great to see that we’ll soon have even more amazing Breeze Champions after the next batch of training courses takes place this spring. All our training courses are free of charge and only take a day to complete, so if you’re enthusiastic about getting more women cycling, why not consider signing up?
One of the best things about my job is getting to meet the inspirational volunteers who make the rides happen. I’m really looking forward to meeting even more of you over the coming year, and helping you to inspire even more people to get out on their bikes.
Keep your eyes peeled for plenty of exciting news about this year’s rides over the next couple of months…