Danny McAskill and his first street trials riding edits captured the imagination of a generation of kids. Peebles has been a hot bed of mountain biking activity for some time (Commonwealth athlete Grant Ferguson cut his teeth here), so it’s little wonder that so many kids here started to try and emulate Danny’s skills. There was a desire to learn trials skills but it was also recognised that good bike handling skills are fundamental to riding a mountain bike fast and well. The idea was to develop a safe, covered environment for learning slow speed bike skills and trials riding.Back
Peebles was fortunate to be home to an enthusiastic local ex CLAN and 7 Stanes trials rider, Alan Hunter. He linked up with the local Peebles Cycling Club and a farmer with an empty barn. Peebles Cycling Club has an active kids mountain bike club, lots of enthusiastic kids and an established coaching structure. Initially it was Alan, a few kids, their parents, some MTB coaches and some old pallets in a derelict barn. This was the stage of trying to assess demand and how it could work. These early users put a lot of work into making the barn a better and safer place to be and were supported financially by Peebles Cycling Club and the farmer. Representatives from Borders Sports and Leisure Trust, Scottish Cycling (and apparently Danny himself!) visited the barn and were hugely enthusiastic about the project. PCC submitted an application for funding to the Lottery Fund and have recently received a sum to build up and improve facilities at the barn. We have an outdoor pump track, an enclosed kitchen area, purpose built equipment and a portaloo!
We have finally been able to open up the barn to the whole of the club. We run a 2hr session every Wednesday evening with 18 kids circulating around three different activities. There is always a minimum of three coaches present, plus parent helpers, and people making tea/ coffee/ drinks and doing registration. Parents are welcomed to stay and watch. We are also offering the opportunity for two other local bike clubs to use the facilities as well, on different nights.
How did you promote your club?
It’s probably fairer to say that the project promoted itself! In a small town with a well-integrated biking community news travels fast! We have a hundred kids on the books for PCCs Kids Club alone and many more who would like to join up. Our biggest struggle is limiting numbers. At present we run a Doodle Poll to sign up each week, with first come, first served.Back
We currently run one two hour coaching session a week, but we are looking at whether we could support a second session. The sessions are open to any child who is a member of Peebles Cycling Club, so whilst there are around 100 children on our books we can currently only accommodate 18 children at any one session.
We recently had two girls (as well as two coaches) go down to the Inter Regional Mountain Biking Championships at Hadleigh Farm, as part of the Scotland South Team. They undoubtedly benefitted from being able to go up to the barn facility to work on the skills aspect of the competition. We also have one child who was first in the novice category of the Trials Championships at Fort William, and another who hopes to compete next year.
Many of our children compete in mountain bike and cyclocross races and we would like to think that the skills they acquire at the barn will make them better and more skillful riders.
Scottish Cycling are also keen to use the facility to run some of their Cluster and Performance MTB sessions.
What one feature of your project would you highlight as a particular success or unique aspect?
Over the last few years, slow speed skills have become a part of many youth mountain biking competitions, in the UK and abroad. Good bike handling skills are vital to safety, energy efficient riding and to tackling the increasing technicality of race courses. The barn project creates an opportunity to develop these skills in a safe, sheltered environment that can also be used over the winter. Hopefully our young (and older) riders will be not only fit, but also skillful. We may even give the opportunity for some future Dannies!Back
The demand is high and we would like to run a second session. However, our coaches do both these barn sessions and a kids club session on a Saturday morning and are heavily involved in running many other aspects of the club. We need to develop more coaches to DSU level to spread the work load. We have also had requests from adults and ladies for separate sessions. Undoubtedly we will also continue to build new equipment as the project evolves and also make improvements to the site.Back