Doncaster-born professional cyclist launches new academy to help children fall in love with cycling as he did
When Doncaster-born British professional road racing cyclist Graham Briggs felt children in his home town did not have the chance to enjoy cycling as he had when he was young, he decided to do something about it.
He teamed up with Triple Olympic Cycling Champion Ed Clancy OBE, who is from Barnsley, to launch the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy.
Ed and Graham have been professional teammates for several years, riding together at JLT Condor, and this year with Team Vitus as two of the most feared riders in city centre criterium racing.
They are both set to retire in 2020, and decided that they would do something for the next generation with their newly-found free time.
During long hours on the road, they began to hatch a plan for their post pro-cycling lives, and that’s when the idea for the cycling academy first came about.
Bonding over shared memories of a love of cycling which was born on the streets, in parks and local countryside, led the two riders to bemoan the lack of opportunities for the current generation of children to just get out and play on their bikes.
They began to wonder what it would be like if they turned their attention to creating that kind of environment for today’s youngsters.
Remembering his own childhood experiences of cycling, Graham said: “As a kid, my bike was a way of freedom, a way to explore and find new and exciting places.
“Most days I rode my bike around a local area that was called ‘the duck pond’ this is where a large part of my childhood was spent, making jumps and pushing my limits with all my friends.
“We also used anything we could get our hands on to make ramps and as we got better skills we could do bigger jumps and get bigger smiles on a daily basis.
“I have always loved the social aspect that riding a bike brings from the age of 6 or 7 through to the present day – nothing has changed.”
He added that he knew he wanted a career in cycling from being 16-years-old.
“I love nothing better than a competition and after getting bored of football I wanted to do something that was a bit more individual and so I got into cyclo- cross / mountain bike races.
“This wasn’t until I was around 16 years old. I wasn’t the best from the beginning but developed quickly and enjoyed pushing myself on the local chain gangs. I left school at 17 and as I left I told the headmaster I wanted to represent Great Britain in the World Championships.
“What I didn’t realise was that would be just the following year. After putting on this GB jersey in Hamilton in Canada I then strove to make a career in cycling.”
Graham also said that he would continue cycling for pleasure after his retirement.
He said: “I am constantly meeting new friends through my cycling and I love nothing better than a stop at a local cafe with friends. Staying fit and healthy and meeting my need for competition will also keep me riding a bike.
“I also see riding a bike as an efficient form of transport, the sense of freedom you get too whilst riding cannot be gained elsewhere.”
For those who want to follow in Graham’s footsteps, the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy website is now live and taking bookings for classes at the new Doncaster Cycle Track located at the Doncaster Dome.
The track is a new 1km cycle track which has all the ingredients for growing a new generation of cyclists who do it just for the love of riding.
Ed and Graham are set to lead a team of coaches at the track who will deliver over 1,690 hours of opportunities to ride in Doncaster next year.
The duo will teach the coaches how to get the most from cycling through games and activities that encourage the development of new skills that will take young riders further.
For the very keenest riders, places on four taster classes are now available at the Doncaster Cycle Track beginning Saturday, November 9. These four free exclusive sessions, which will run during November and December, will give an early taste of what the academy is about before weekly sessions commence on Monday, January 6. Children can sign up from the age of 18-months-old through to 16-year-old.
As well as the classes at the Doncaster Dome, the academy will also be working with a number of schools from launch.
The duo said: “More than transport, more than sport; a bike can take you anywhere.
“We want to build a generation that loves cycling and loves the places it takes them.
“That journey begins by exploring the fun you can have on two wheels.”
For more information, please visit the official website at www.clancybriggs.co.uk.