South West MTB Youth Team – the beginning.
The Inter Regional Youth Event at Hadleigh Farm has spawned a monster.
In October 2012, the South West MTB community pooled its resources in order to send a team of Youth and Juvenile riders to the Inter Regional event at Hadleigh Farm, under the occasionally watchful, but mostly distracted eye, of Jay and Maddie Horton from Fully Sussed and Rob Barker from VeloLoco.
Two days of fierce competition later and the tired team had several hours of driving home to reflect on their experiences. Conclusions were –
1) We’d had our legs ripped off by the other regions. Undeniable fact.
2) We’d had a barrel of laughs and learned a lot - mostly about Chaz’s ability to do a Jar Jar Binks impression.
3) Most importantly, nobody was demoralised and in fact everyone went away determined to make amends and come back fighting.
What are you going to do about it?
Within 24 hours the squad’s Facebook page was up and running.
Before the week was out the Hortons had drafted the first of the monthly training programmes, sent it out to all riders, and arranged the first of the weekly training sessions. A collective groan was heard across the region.
In January we added a ‘public’ Facebook page so that we can publically thank our sponsors, let people know what we are up to, and give other young riders something to aspire to.
We soon discovered that asking sponsors for goodies and deals for a youth squad resulted in a resounding ‘yes!’ To date, we have support from Shred, Silverfish, National Trust, Newnham Park, Inevent, Reed Chillcheater and Juice Lubes. But we don’t need much – mostly just bikes, time and motivation.
With training groups in North Devon on Tuesdays and in Plymouth on Thursdays, the South West Youth Squad has 2 organised opportunities each week to meet up and train hard together, as
Initially organised around Sunday races, every month the squad has set a date for a weekend away together. Pooling resources and attracting sponsorship means that we can now accommodate a big group of riders for a Saturday training session, information giving and group hugs, followed by a race on the Sunday with an ever growing team of supporters. No more lonely race fields for us.
The riders all continue to ride and race for their respective clubs and teams, but get together for training and will enter some team races under the banner of the South West Youth Team. Look for us at Bristol Bike Fest and 24-12 in the South West race kit. We’ll also be at all the Nationals, the South West series, and the Soggies.
The selected riders have been invited to train with the squad based on their race results.
When they have been deemed to have ‘earned their stripes’ with the squad they will get their squad hoodie, for services to mountain biking and lycra wearing, and be invited to come along on the squad weekenders – training, Haribo eating, training and racing a speciality. Their club or team will remain their priority, but wherever possible we will enter a SW team in an event. Selection for the team will be based not only on results, but also on enthusiasm, attitude and level of involvement with the Facebook, blog and website. It’s not just about the bike.
With major sponsors coming on board in their droves, the squad is gathering significant momentum. Watch this space for rider updates, race reports, and all manner of trivia concerning the perils of being a young MTB racer.