What are the aims of the project?
We wanted to use the context of Cycle Speedway racing to introduce more young people to riding bikes for sport and leisure and also to provide an all year round format for inter-schools cycle racing both indoors and outdoors and to provide a cheap and available pathway to mountain biking, track and other forms of competitive cycling.
Background to the project
The Liberton High School Bike Club was invited by Gavin Kennedy of the Edinburgh Monarchs Cycle Speedway Club to go to the Redbraes track for a taster session back in 2010.
What target group was your project aimed at?
At first the initiative was targeted at secondary school boys and girls from S1 to S6 from across Edinburgh but very soon schools in Fife joined in for the 2012 indoor season. In Glasgow youth groups have been introduced to the sport at the newly renovated outdoor track at Cathkin Park. We have also had primary school children introduced to some basic speedway and they love it!
How did you identify the need for the project?
Having organised a number of inter schools cycle speedway-style races at Liberton and having been disappointed with the uptake, we realised that the main problem with inter-schools racing was getting riders’ bikes to the venues, the concept of having the specialised Cycle Speedway bikes located at a central point for all to use, so that only the riders had to be transported, seemed a possible way forward.Back
What did you do and how did you do it?
I arranged a meeting, held at Banghlom OE centre and hosted by Cliff Smith, and invited Gavin Kennedy of the Edinburgh Falcons, Richard Lord from Scottish Cycling, Amy Hickman the Bike Club Officer for Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and Falkirk, Lynn Stocks the Sustrans I-Bike Cycling Officer and Ellie Forgan the Active Schools Co-coordinator for Liberton and feeder primaries where, after an open and supportive discussion, it was agreed unanimously that an indoor winter cycle speedway competition should be organised without delay.
Cliff, Outdoor Education Development Officer and Cycling Scotland trainer, brought to the table a pragmatic and common sense interpretation of risk assessment, third party liability and insurance cover.
Gavin was enthusiastic about the prospects of getting some coaching and racing in place at the Jack Kane Centre by February of 2012 and Lynn, Amy and Ellie offered to inform their contacts of the new opportunity, recruit staff in schools and generally encourage participation in the newly founded Scottish Schools Cycle Speedway league.
Who did it involve and how did you go about getting them involved?
Things then happened very quickly thanks to Gavin Kennedy who put a bid together for funds from the Commonwealth 2014 Lottery Fund and Jamie Malcolm, Manager at the Jack Kane centre, who enthusiastically backed the project and allowed the bikes to be stored on site.
Despite a technicality in the Falcon’s constitution disarming the funding bid and thanks to generous support from a number of sources the first indoor coaching/racing session of the Scottish Schools Cycle Speedway League took place at the Jack Kane centre on Friday 3rd February 2012.
Edinburgh schools were slow to pick up on the new venture but Craig Masson from Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline seized the opportunity and brought up to a dozen students to their coaching and race practice sessions. Also on board for these first sessions were students from Liberton High School Bike Club and Kircaldy High School.
What was the budget for your project and how/where did you source funding?
The intention was to use Lottery funding but when this was delayed Sustrans and Bike Club Scotland offered to pay for the hire of the Jack Kane centre and cover Gavin’s costs for the first series of sessions.
Edinburgh Falcons re-applied for Commonwealth 2014 funding and this second bid was successful and four new medium sized speedway bikes were purchased for use by the SSCSL and other youth groups.
Craig persuaded his Head teacher to buy four new bikes for Queen Anne High School and used the school games hall to practice in. As there are no brakes on the bikes they do not leave marks on the floor!
Liberton High followed suit in October using Bike Club funds and now have their own set of speedway bikes.
We tried to get a sponsor for the 2012 Winter indoor series but that falling through the hire of the Jack Kane centre was covered by a donation from Sustrans iBike and the Active Schools after school clubs budget. We are still looking for a sponsor who will back this thriving venture and pay for another indoor session in 2013.
How did you promote your project?
A list of schools with staff interested in cycling or who had expressed an interest in forming a bike club were identified and sent an illustrated Powerpoint that explained the sport and invited them to form teams and come along to the indoor and outdoor sessions. It also gave a link to the Edinburgh Falcon’s website. All Active Schools Coordinators were also invited to get involved in the coaching and race training sessions.
A global email list was created and constantly added to and regular mailings were sent out to try to recruit more participants. Regular post session race reports were published on the Falcons website and picked up by Bike Club Scotland and Sustrans iBike who featured them in their own publications.
Earlier in 2012 Gavin Kennedy held a session for youth workers and as a result a travelling Road Show of all the Open All Hours venues across Edinburgh is being arranged for the new year. Led by Trevor Bryant and Ellie Forgan and assisted by experienced student Cycling Ambassadors from Liberton High School ( who will be working towards their Youth Leadership Award ) this seven week tour will bring Cycle Speedway to a new target group of over 300 young people in the S1 to S4 age group.
What were the project outcomes/results?
The first success of the project was the bringing together of Scottish Cycling, Bike Club Scotland, Sustrans and Active Schools and getting them to unanimously endorse the concept of an inter schools speedway bike racing organisation. It was rewarding to see organisations that tend to work independently of each other working in unison for the good of our young people.
To date we have had an indoor series in 2011 that catered for schools from Edinburgh and Fife, a summer series at Redbraes Park in Edinburgh, a Scottish Schools Select versus Falcons Juniors match, a Fife Select versus Falcons Match and we are now in our second year of winter indoor sessions in which there are currently four High Schools involved: Liberton; Boroughmuir; Royal High and Leith Academy.
In Fife Craig Masson of Queen Anne High has been working with all the Active Schools Coordinators who have offered to pay half the cost of a set of four new speedway bikes for any of their schools that will find the other half. This way he hopes to establish a wide base of cycle speedway across the authority.
In Glasgow Tom A’hara and Jake Lovatt helped in the renovation of the derelict Cathkin Park outdoor cycle speedway track and also held a number of taster sessions over the summer holidays for young riders.
How did you monitor and evaluate the project?
To date the project is small enough for all schools speedway to be overseen by Trevor in Edinburgh and Craig in Fife who keep in touch through email and when their schools meet in competition. The success of the initiative is evaluated on the take up and response to the speedway sessions. All sessions to date have been full and the response of all staff and young riders has been 100% positive with schools looking to come back for more than their original time allocation. For the 200 pounds hall hire this session we will have trained and raced a total of approximately 60 staff and students. The outdoor series are even better value as there is no charge for the use of the public amenity at all, the only hidden cost being that of the original funding of the bikes themselves.
What worked well?
What has made this venture so successful is the simplicity and the accessibility of this cycling format. It is relatively easy to acquire the basic skills and knowledge that allow quite novice riders to compete safely whilst also giving more courageous and experienced riders an opportunity for hard, aggressive racing. We have had competitive races between riders ranging from ten years old to almost eighty, male and female and all came away with a feeling of achievement and fulfilment. As predicted the fact that the specialist bikes were stationed at the venue made it relatively easy for staff to transport small groups of students across the City by car or bus for the sessions. No need to hire vans or trailers at great cost to bring their own bikes, just turn up!
What worked less well?
Take up wasn’t as immediate as we first imagined as most schools do not have their own bike clubs in place or staff who are readily identifiable as contacts who can identify and then organise a group to bring to the sessions. We are confident that as the profile of the sport continues to rise across the City and indeed the whole of Scotland, and as schools continue to join the ranks of those with active bike clubs, the majority of them will become involved in this activity. There are at least three more schools that want to join us in the New Year.
What one feature of your project would you highlight as a particular success or unique aspect?
Cycle Speedway can take place in any average sized sports hall without damaging the floor so the number of possible venues for this sport to flourish in are almost limitless. The bikes cost around 200 pounds each new so initial outlay is relatively low and their simplicity means they require a minimum of maintenance. There is a progression route from Cycle Speedway indoors to outdoor cambered blaze tracks and then to a full size velodrome and this has already happened with S4 students from Liberton High School. Cycle speedway is governed by British Cycling and there are National and International competitions and a World Cup. From cycling in a school Hall to a World Cup speedway race in America – there’s opportunity - that’s progression!Back
Do you have any recommendations for other people running a project like this in future?
The success of a totally new initiative such as this depends largely on finding the right people to target, in our case a teacher or an ASC or a Youth Worker. An email sent to a Head Teacher or a school office will disappear without a trace. Look for the bikey folk. Ask around who knows someone in that school who loves to cycle and then invite them along to have a go or take the experience out to them. Be a pest, keep niggling away for once they see it for themselves they will join the ranks of the converted and spread the word.
How do you plan to develop the project so that it keeps on working in the future?
The Open All Hours road show is one development already planned.
In 2013 we will try to encourage Glasgow Life to copy the model we have developed in Edinburgh.
2013/2014 we will try to spread down into the Scottish Borders where we should have an easy job due to the popularity of mountain biking. It is quite possible that Authorities in other areas will independently pick up on what we have done here and start their own inter schools competitions.
Then Inter Authority and Inter Regional competitions followed by Internationals with youth teams from England where the sport is still thriving.
A recent costing for a new, permanent outdoor track was around 15,000 pounds. It is not unreasonable to hope that with the rise in popularity of cycle speedway more of these may be created once more in Scotland.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your project?
A recent development is interest in cycle speedway as a possible activity in the area of disability sports.Back