With 50 days to go until the Tokyo Olympic Games, British Cycling has today launched a new drive to reboot grassroots racing following the disruption caused by lockdown restrictions, in a bid to make the sport more accessible, diverse and welcoming than ever before.
The Everyone Wins campaign will follow the journeys of a group novice riders from a range of backgrounds as they begin their racing journeys, in an effort to challenge perceptions of what bike racers look like, showcase the breadth of opportunities to get involved and celebrate the health, wellbeing, social and community benefits of doing so.
The campaign comes as British Cycling launches its first long-term plans for each of the cycling disciplines (BMX, Cycle Speedway, Cyclo-cross, Mountain Bike Endurance, Mountain Bike Gravity, Road and Track), and in addition to bespoke initiatives for each discipline, the organisation has bold ambitions to double the number of Go-Ride coaching clubs for kids, achieve a 40% increase in the number of women competing and a 50% increase in under-16s – all by 2026. Figures from British Cycling’s independent market tracker show that 2.2 million more adults would like to start riding competitively.
While grassroots cycling events have been permitted to resume in England since March 29th, and appetite from riders has been strong, British Cycling and event organisers continue to face challenges in securing the necessary permissions to host events on public roads and spaces. British Cycling is working hard with other event organisers, including parkrun, and colleagues in Government to highlight the challenges currently being faced by event organisers, to ensure that as many events as possible are able to go ahead over the summer months.
Worries also remain over the impact of the pandemic on the activity levels of children and young people, with new research supported by British Cycling last week showing almost a quarter (23%) are playing less sport than before. Further research by the Sport and Recreation Alliance shows that junior club memberships are expected to fall by 30% compared with pre-pandemic levels, with more deprived and ethnically diverse communities impacted most.
Speaking ahead of the launch, British Cycling CEO Brian Facer said:
“Grassroots bike racing is the foundation of our sport, and it is essential that everyone from all backgrounds can feel comfortable and welcome at events, whether they are competing, volunteering or supporting. Our Everyone Wins campaign will help to showcase this alongside personal stories as riders start their competition journey, regardless of where they finish in the race.
“Over the last year we have seen the number of people riding bikes skyrocket. As grassroots events begin to get back up and running over the coming weeks and months we want to broaden the base of individuals who take part, breaking down barriers and perceptions and widening access to help us to lay the foundations for future success.”
Supporting the campaign, three-time Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy said:
“As a nation we’ve enjoyed incredible success over the past few decades, none of which would have been possible without the dedication of the local clubs, organisers and volunteers who work tirelessly to provide riders with their first opportunity to experience the thrill of racing.
“Through the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy I know just how much grassroots sport can benefit young people, far beyond the skills to win bike races. As we build towards this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, I hope that the campaign can inspire even more riders of all ages to have a go themselves and discover the unique thrill of racing.”
Developed in consultation with the cycling community since December 2019, the discipline plans cover the whole cycling pathway from recreational riding and clubs to entry-level racing opportunities and competing for medals at the highest level. They will also guide the organisation’s work to boost the number and diversity of those riding, racing and volunteering, and the facilities and partnerships required to support the long-term sustainability of the sport.
British Cycling’s Cycling Delivery Director, Dani Every, said:
“The publication of our first long-term plans for each of the disciplines is a real watershed moment for our organisation, and I would like to pay thanks to the thousands of people at all levels of the sport who have shared their thoughts and experiences through the process.
“We now begin the job of bringing the plans to life and helping the sport to recover from the challenges of the past year, and we look forward to sharing details of some exciting new initiatives over the months ahead.”