There are so many fantastic MTB clubs in Scotland. Run by dedicated, passionate and totally committed individuals. We though that it was appropriate that this is celebrated and applauded - The Scottish MTB Club of the Year 2019.
The shortlist for the The Scottish MTB Club of the Year 2019 is :-
The club started 11 years ago as a junior section to the event organizing club Innerleithen MTB Racing. The club started at the local primary school and would meet once a month as we only had three leaders. We now have 85 members, meet at least once a week and field riders to most of the national XC, DH and Enduro series events. We’re really lucky in as much of many of our original members who started as very small children can now help to inspire the new young ones.
Our members are all children from ages 4 to 16. 50% of the members are girls and maintaining this balance is important as is ensuring that we have female leaders and coaches to role model for the younger children. We have 22 regular leaders and coaches and 2 welfare officers. We organise a non-competitive event once a year for young riders so that they get the feel of taking part in a race without the anxiety of performance being the focus and we’re lucky to be able to run a similar event as part of Tweedlove where we and some of the other local clubs help to get 300 riders taking part in a race type event. We also run competitive events and have been the organizing club for an annual Borders XC event, the first ever kids enduro and we ran an evening dirt crit series this year for the first time. We have run the U8s and U10s race at local BMBS and SXC rounds up until 2018 too. We ran a really cool pump track and treasure hunt as part of Specialized Trail Days 2019 which we’re hoping to do next year in partnership with Specialized. We want racing to be an option rather than a focus for the young riders because if they find out that they enjoy racing and riding a bike then they actively do it as a choice and that is when they get better! KICC is heavily over subscribed so our coaches help to deliver an after schools coaching program in local primary schools in Peebles and West Linton, we assist with two blocks of sessions in spring and after summer.
We run regular Sunday sessions where we have 6 groups out on the trail. Some weeks the groups work on coached skills and sometimes they take part in led rides. In the winter we run roller and fundamental movement workshops when riding is less accessible. This year we ran extra sessions once a week for a group of 16 girls who then took part in a weekend long bike packing trip. This trip allowed the girls to take on leadership roles and they were responsible for all elements of the trip with help from adult leaders. All members of the club aged over 10 have been able to take part in Youth Scotland leadership awards and 17 people were recently awarded a qualification as a result. As a club we value the input of our young members and allow them to take on leadership roles within their groups with even the younger riders being able to take part in decision making. The club has had some fantastic riders take part in sessions and many have gone on to win youth national championships in Enduro and Downhill.
Our Girls bike packing trip with a series of sessions running up to a weekend long trip was great. The bond formed by the riders was fantastic. One girl went on to then complete her level one coaching award after having first volunteered by mentoring the younger riders and another girl started to engage much more in the led rides following this experience. Overall we are assisting 6 young leaders to re-engage with the club, some who had stopped riding with the group but wanted to come back when they aren’t racing or studying to work with younger riders.
The club now has over 50 members which has roughly doubled over the course of the last 3 years. Sessions are now regularly attended by over 35 riders which has roughly trebled over the course of the last 3 years.
Wolfpax has regularly had 1 or 2 female members throughout its history. Each session is now regularly attended by 6 female riders and female participation has significantly grown over the course of the last 3 years. We aim to continue to nurture this positive trend.
4 years ago the bulk of members were at Secondary School. Teenage members have been retained, whilst the average age of members has been lowered over the course of the last 3 years. The club has grown consistently as a result of the introduction of entry coaching and progression from that. This has therefore broadened the reach of the club and strengthened its membership base for future sustained growth.
3 years ago the club had 1 or 2 volunteer coaches/leaders. The club now has 4 volunteer coaches/leaders who are fully qualified and PVG’d, a further 3 who are now qualified and have applied for PVG and will join us as leaders for the 2020 season. A further 2 parents have volunteered to undertake qualifications. This is therefore a dramatic enhancement to our voluntary coaching and leadership capabilities.
3 years ago the club had a small pool of professional coaches and leaders with whom they worked. This has now grown to a pool of 10 which include Jules Fincham of Cycle Wild Scotland, Neil Wilson of Off the Grid MTB, Chris Gibbs of H&I Adventures, Ben Cathro of Sick Skills and Remy McMurtrie.
Wolfpax Riders are encouraged to develop as leaders and coaches themselves, two of our regular coaches in the form of Donald Rodgers and Fraser Watt have done that and act as an exemplar to younger riders.
Wolfpax offers a full day’s coaching for £15 for the first child and £10 for siblings, therefore offering children access to very high quality coaching and leading at a very affordable cost.
This and our training and equipment is subsidized by sponsorship from companies such as Russwood and Walkers Shortbread as well as contributions over the years from several trusts.
Voluntary and professional coaches and leaders hold informal coaching meetings during lunchtimes during sessions to review common coaching techniques to standardize approaches, review progression, rectify issues and to reattribute riders between ability groups. Thus, maximizing the opportunities for the riders but also very importantly to continuously upskill the volunteers via CPD. Given the growth of our coaching resource, this is also catalyzed by partnering professionals with volunteers during sessions so that they can continue to learn whilst leading.
The growth of our coaching and leadership pool also means that we are regularly offering a coaching ratio of 1 to 4. This means that ability groups can be much more tightly honed where appropriate.
But it also means that larger groups can also be lead at pace over a wider environment, using 2 coaches/leaders one as a leader and one as a sweeper, thus allowing the kids to experience trails at race speeds albeit within a safe and controlled environment. Race coaching is now being specifically offered where riders study line choice and the appropriateness of specific techniques to hone their skills.
Our annual coaching residential which is attended by riders and parents at Innerleithan and Glentress is a huge success. This year’s residential utilized no less than 8 leaders and was an enormous opportunity for detailed consideration of each rider’s ability and potential for progression, but also an enormous opportunity for fun, to be with friends, to involve parents, offer them the opportunity to progress towards qualifications and CPD between leaders.
This year Wolfpax Riders have competed in MIJ Forest of Dean Mini Downhill Series, Bigtree Campervan Mini Downhill, Borders Mini Downhill Series, Highland Hardline Mini Downhill Series, North of Scotland Dirt Crit Series, the POC Scottish Enduro Series, The Fair City Enduro and the Scottish Cycling Mini Downhill Final.
Our program of sessions is specifically tailored to avoid these events and the Fort William World Cup.
This year Wolfpax Riders have podiumed at the Bigtree Campervan Mini Downhill, the Highland Hardline Mini Downhill Series, the North of Scotland Dirt Crit Series, The Fair City Enduro and the Scottish Cycling Mini Downhill Final.
We have developed a members’ specific closed Facebook page to co-ordinate sessions, informal meet ups, buy-sells and video coaching feedback. In turn we have an outward facing Facebook page and a parallel presence on Instagram. We seek to use LinkedIn to develop sponsorship opportunities. The organization of the club is facilitated by a Committee group and a Wolfpax leaders group on Messenger.
Our online presence and the format of what the club has to offer means that the club continues to grow and we believe that we have the foundations in place to facilitate that.
Whilst our use of sessions at locations beyond Laggan is proving very popular, Laggan is very much our base and we continue to grow our links to Laggan Forest Trust as we and they recognize the extent of the economic impact offered by the club and its sessions. We therefore liaise with the Trust and the Wee Bike Hub as much as we can to help each other and we liaise with other LBS’s in the Strathspey and Badenoch area. Both the Wee Bike Hub and Basecamp Bikes offer discounts to members.
We have also regularly promoted the successes of Wolfpax Riders alumni to our current membership in the form of Charlie Alldridge and Jamie Edmondson. To applaud their success we have offered both lifetime membership and thus far have been able to invite Jamie to attend a recent session at Learnie to demonstrate his skills where the current members were able to gift him a Wolfpax Riders special top as a souvenir. We intend to repeat this for Charlie.
Both amazing clubs - however the winner of the Award will be announced at the MTB Awards on the 21st November in Innerleithen. Book your tickets now and celebrate this amazing community with us.
2018 Winners - West Highland Wheelers
The club is run by volunteers and the ethos is to aspire members to get involved with the club whether it is participating in events, marshalling/ timekeeping etc at events/ being on the committee/ helping out with their annual bike festival or their annual bike sale.. .the list goes on.
The club have set up a children's section to promote and develop responsible mountain biking among children in the area. This is based on a ”club ride led by adult volunteers” model rather than paying coaches and having kids dropped off. This has enabled the club to grow sustainably and has created an incredibly supportive group with many parents helping in many areas. Parents have also supported each other to progress their riding and parents have developed their skills and confidence to start assisting with the kids groups. The numbers have grown year on year and they now have over 50 kids turning up on the Saturday morning. The rides are led by volunteer parents, assisted by volunteer parents, and parents who cannot ride help out in various other ways.
Winner 2017 - Midlothian Cycle Club
Winner 2016 - Arran High School MTB Club
TICKETS CAN BE PURCHASED FOR THE EVENT HERE.