British Cycling’s search for the next generation of medallists on the road and in the velodrome could pass through Spalding and Bourne very soon.
Cycling clubs in both towns are carefully, but profitably, bringing through a peloton of young riders who have found fun in friendly competition.
Bryn Richards discovered the winning habit when he wore the Bourne Wheelers colours in winning the National GHS (George Herbert Stancer) Time Trial Championships for 13-year-olds on a soaking Saturday in Stratford-upon-Avon.
“The weather wasn’t the best as it was raining all the way up to the beginning of the race,” said the 13-year-old.
“You just have to keep your mind on the ride, go quickly on the straight parts of the course and slowly around the bends.
“I was just aiming to get a personal best and my feelings before the rest were that top five would be amazing and top three out of this world.
I started cycling at Go-Ride and really liked it because I could do different things like mountain biking.Jack Bowser
“But to win it was a dream.”
Bryn and club-mates like Rory Standish, Dylan Snoek and Dan Galpin are setting a standard for even younger riders like Spalding Cycling Club’s Jack Bowser to follow.
In only his second year of riding on the club’s grass track team, Jack collected first prize in the Juvenile Boys E Class event at the Mildenhall Cycling Festival in Suffolk.
Jack said: “I started cycling at Go-Ride and really liked it because I could do different things like mountain biking.”
Go-Ride, British Cycling’s development programme that introduces youngsters to the sport, is the common thread running through the south-east Lincolnshire cycling revolution.
Mark Botteley, who has effectively become the ‘Mr Go-Ride’ of Bourne Wheelers Cycling Club, said: “We’ve been running the Go-Ride programme for a few years and this present crop of youngsters is the latest in a long line of talent we’ve had at the club.
“But what we’ve got now is as strong an under-16, under-14 and under-12 set of teams as there is in Lincolnshire.”
Mark’s claims were borne out on a national stage at the Sainsbury’s School Games in Loughborough where Bourne Wheelers pair Lizzie Catlow and Jess Woodworth helped the East Midlands girls team to gold in the time trial.
Jess said: “We said before the race that we wanted to ride as a team, as much as possible.
“But when we finished the race, we thought that we’d come second to Wales, even though we knew it was very close.
“The girls’ team time trial was so hard and, at the end, we were just sprinting to the line.
“But we all learned how important it is like your team-mates and to have a strong, well-supported team.”
Some riders from both clubs have the experience of taking team cycling into a mixed team, entering races across the UK throughout the summer months.
Spalding Cycling Club’s Tilly Gurney, also part of the EM Velocita team, has accumulated an impressive list of results this season, including silver and bronze medals respectively in the National 800m and Omnium Championships in Cumbria.
Tilly said: “I hope to do more of the same sort of thing next year and I just really hope that we’ll be able to get some Junior Road Races off the ground.
“If these races can be set up as regular events, they would be just the thing our age category needs to support us at this stage in our development.”
There is also room in the area’s cycling scene for young people like Megan Kendall whose work alongside Go-Ride coaches and race organisers saw her recognised with British Cycling’s Young Volunteer Award.
Megan said: “I used to ride a lot before I got injured a few years ago.
“But I still wanted to be part of cycling because I love it.”