All about Go-Ride Holiday Programmes

31 January 2014

If your child is considering taking up cycling as a sport but trying a cycling club seems a bit daunting then how about booking them on a British Cycling Holiday Programme session? Or perhaps your children are already involved in the sport and want to develop some new skills, or they are just bored in the school holidays and fancy trying something different.

Go-Ride is British Cycling’s development programme, and Go-Ride Coaches are employed regionally to assist clubs in recruiting and retaining new youth age members.

We asked Go-Ride Coach Alison Lilley to tell us all about Holiday Programmes, and how they can help your child’s cycling development.

When and where do Go-Ride Holiday Programme sessions take place?

Alison: Throughout the year during school holidays in a variety of locations from school playing fields & town parks to Olympic & World class venues such as the London velodrome (Lee Valley Velo Park) & the National Cycling Centre BMX track. Session fees start from just £5.00.

Sessions are typically run as a one to two hour taster/refresher, or a full day experience from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with a break for lunch.

{Ed: see national list at the foot of this article of Holiday Programmes taking place during February 2014 half-term. Many more will be run during the school Easter holidays too}


Who are the sessions intended for?

Alison: All children from 7 to 16 years old wanting to improve their cycling skills and gain knowledge about all cycle sport (riders aged 14 to 23 years can access our Rider Development Programmes instead).

Each programme will have different age restrictions according to the cycling discipline, hire bikes availability, venue, duration & rider ability.

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Which activities take place at Holiday Programme sessions?

Alison: The sessions concentrate on developing the techniques needed to become a better rider regardless of their level of participation, rather than being about a hard physical workout. However, if the day consists of four hours of coaching the children will be tired by the end of it. There will individual & team challenges and fun races to practice skills & techniques learnt, but these will be short. Coaching feedback is provided throughout the day. Mountain biking days will often involve riding in a forest or at a trail centre with stops to practice a particular feature or obstacle.

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How can parents find Go-Ride Holiday Programme sessions and book them?

Alison: Check out the British Cycling event calendar. Select ”Go-Ride” for the “Type of event” in the left hand column. You can refine your search further by selecting date range and location.

You will be able to book your child on to most sessions online via the British Cycling website. You can pay for some sessions on the day but on the whole it’s safer to secure a place by paying in advance. The cost will vary but will usually be between £5 and £15.

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Should children bring their own bikes? What other equipment should they bring?

Alison: At some Holiday Programme sessions the Go-Ride Coach or venue will have bikes that you can hire or borrow. If hiring or borrowing a bike make sure you arrive early to get the bike set up for your child. If you child hasn’t used a road bike before make sure someone shows them how the gears work. You may need to book the use of the bike in advance.

If you’re taking your child’s own bike to a Holiday Programme then make sure it is in good working order and appropriate for the session. In particular make sure that:-

  • both tyres are pumped up to the recommended pressure (as shown on the sidewall of the tyre)
  • BMX bikes should have “stunt pegs” removed
  • the wheels’ quick-release levers are done up properly (so that the wheels are firmly attached into the frame of the bike)
  • end-plugs are fitted to the end of the handlebars

If in doubt, take it along to your local bike shop for a quick service. If you are already a member of a cycling club then the club coach will be able to advise you whether the bike is suitable. In most cases you should not have handlebar extensions (sometimes known as aero bars or tri bars) fitted to a road bike for a road and time trial activity.

Make sure your child takes clothing suitable for the weather including lots of layers if it’s cold. They don’t have to have cycling clothing but their clothing should be close-fitting and not flap about. Long trousers should be able to be tucked into socks. Gloves & cycling mitts are recommended and are compulsory for some sessions. Drinks should be water-based, such as squash, or just plain water. Some snacks are a good idea, and cereal bars or fruit are a good option. Full day sessions require a packed lunch in addition to snacks.

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What do parents do while their children are being coached?

Alison: You won’t need to stay at the sessions although some venues have space where you can sit and read or do some work with free WiFi connection. If this is important to you check with the organiser in advance. You may be able to watch some of the coaching although you will be asked not to engage with your child while the session is in progress as this can be disruptive to the group’s learning. Sometimes coaches may welcome a bit of assistance in setting-up for the session or helping with other jobs such as time keeping, marshalling a remote spot, or judging the practice races.

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Who delivers Go-Ride Holiday Programmes?

Alison: The lead coaches are all British Cycling qualified coaches who are CRB checked and First Aid qualified to a minimum Level 2 standard. Quite often the coaches are qualified to a much higher level and in multiple cycling disciplines. British Cycling qualified community club coaches often work alongside the Regional Go-Ride coaches delivering the programmes enabling children to meet their local coach should they wish to continue in the sport.

As a cycling coach, what do you think are the main benefits of Holiday Programmes to young cyclists?

Alison: They are great opportunities for your child to have fun, learn some new cycling skills, and make new friends in a traffic free environment.

Alison Lilley undertook coaching courses to help her progress as a racer and give back to the sport she so enjoyed. Starting out as a club volunteer before joining British Cycling as a Go-Ride Coach in the Eastern Region, she is now a qualified coach to Level 3 in Track, Road & Time Trialling as well as holding other Level 2 discipline specific awards. She has competed in various cycle sport disciplines, is a former National Track Omnium Series winner, and still races on the road & track today.

Holiday Programmes during February 2014 half-term

Mon 17th Feb/Tue 18th Feb – Mountain bike skills – Shipley Country Park, Derbyshire

Mon 17th to Wed 19th Feb – Mountain biking and cyclocross skills – Cyclopark, Gravesend

Tue 18th Feb – Road and time trial – Redbridge Cycling Centre

Thurs 20th/Fri 21st Feb – Road skills – Palatine Circuit, Blackpool

Fri 21st Feb – Cycling skills – York Sport Cycle Circuit


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All about Go-Ride Holiday Programmes

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