A long term goal of the Your Move program at St Augustine's has been to establish a Bike Club for our keen riders to further develop their skills alongside like minded peers to help foster a life long love of active travel.
The initial seeds of interest were sown last year with our Kuljak Island Treasure Hunt Bike Month Event where around half of the students in the school attended the event and enjoyed spending time outside of school riding their bikes and learning new skills with their peers. In Term 1 of 2023, the bike club was kickstarted with a call out to families to join in the Perth City Bike Festival. We had a range of students from years 1-5 meet up on a Sunday afternoon to join in the festivities, they were able to participate in a bike skills session and ride around the race course.
With a core group of bike riding diehards, we arranged to meet again the following Sunday at the WA Cyclocross season opener. The students were able to join in the 'CX Skills n Drills' session before riding around the course for 20 minutes with about 40 other primary aged children from all over Perth. They certainly earned their post race chupa chups. It was here that the notion for a club name, St As Cycle Club, or STACC was first conceived.
The club stayed to cheer on some St As parents who raced too.
The very next Sunday there was another Cyclocross race, the word had spread and we had 2 more students join the club for this event.
It was at this stage that we heard about the State School Mountainbike Series, or the 'interschool' for mountain biking - a series of 3 mountain biking events held on Sunday mornings during Terms 2 and 3 where participants ride to earn points for their school. I downloaded the info pack from the Rock n Roll Mountainbiking website and got to work organising a team. We put out an Expressions of Interest letter signed by the Principal to all of our families (KG to Yr 6) via the Seesaw communication app and created a Facebook P & F post as an extra measure.
We also used the slow bike race on National Ride to School Day to help identify the most talented bike handlers among our students to encourage them to register their interest.
We had a great response to the call out with more than 10% of Yrs 1-6 interested in attending the 3 events. I then contacted a local Perth based mountain bike clothing retailer who helped us to design a custom jersey to wear during the events, and confirmed with the YM team that the cost could be covered by our Rewards Shop points. The order has been made, but it will only be ready for Round 2 onwards.
Looking good is one thing, but that's not going to get you very far if you can't back it up with the skills. There was one major hurdle to overcome, being an inner city school, most of our team had never ridden on a mountain bike trail before.
Luckily with help from Coach Jen at Rock n Roll Mountain Biking, the team were able to practice the course and learn some skills during the school holidays. There were 4 separate sessions available in the lead up to the event to make sure that everyone had an opportunity to get at least one skills session and course preview under their belts before the big day. Some students were only able to attend one, while a few attended all 4 sessions.
On each of the sessions, the team were taken through the pre-ride safety checks for mountain biking. ABCD-Q-W which stands for:
- Air pressure - check that the tyres are nice and soft to keep you glued to the gravel and offer extra suspension
- Brakes - check that both brakes are in working order
- Chain - check that the chain is going around as expected
- Drop - lift up and then drop the bike to make sure nothing falls off, better lose it here than on the trails
- Quick releases - check that the quick release clamps are all tightened (2 wheels and the saddle)
- WATER - don't go into the bush without enough water
As the group progressed through the course, there were opportunities to learn the essential skills of mountain biking. The most important skill being the 'attack position' which the team learned has 5 components:
- Eyes ahead - so you can see the trail ahead
- Cover your brakes - 2 fingers hovering over the brakes and 2 holding the handlebars
- Angry elbows - bent elbows, in a strong position ready to move
- Bottom off the saddle - to help the bike move more freely over and around the obstacles
- Level Pedals - both pedals at the same level to give a strong platform to stand on, and to help avoid pedal strike on rocks
The team got to practice their attack positions on various technical trail features, including berms, whoopies and rock gardens and in some of the sessions were lucky enough to watch a group of professionals riding super fast over the same features that they were learning to ride on. At the end of the sessions, the students reflected on how far they had come in such a short time. They were able to laugh off the many ‘stacks’ that had occurred by voting themselves and each other ‘STACC President’.
With confidence sky high, they are now ready to take on the School Series!
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