Article League 2000

The Youth Scene

Some club members may be aware that the Cleveland Wheelers have a thriving Youth Scene with coaching every Monday night and The League 2000 but what is it all about and how did it all come to happen?

The story starts in the late 1980’s when some club members were ferrying their and other youngsters all around the country. These youngsters included David Fisher, Andrew Jackson, Phil West, Daniel Smith and Martyn Dobson. My involvement is that David is my Brother-in-Law. There was only a couple of road races in the North East at the time, how things have changed. In 1991 we decided that we should be organising youth races so started looking for a closed circuit, this was when Chris Smith said “What about the perimeter road around the Police HQ on Ladgate Lane?” So Chris and myself had a look and it was perfect.

The following season we organised two youth races a three stage race, an idea from Houghton CC who stopped organising a similar event at Durham the year before and the Cleveland Divisional Championships. The winner of that first event was Simon Davidson, Teesside Clarion, but six club members took part Philip West, Daniel Smith, David Fisher, Stephen Hatcher, Ian Melvin and Richard Paul.

The Police HQ races saw some amazing talent over the 16 years the races were held there including Lizzie Armistead’s first ever road race and yes my claim to fame – I pinned her number on.

We were starting to get noticed at British Cycling and some years the stage race was included as part of the national selection criteria, but in 1997 we decided we had to do more so myself, Norman Bielby and Dennis Punshon met with the Motor Sports Park people at South Bank and the Youth Racing League was born. Initially sponsored by Financial Advice Bureau the league was named the FAB League.
1997 saw 6 events and 28 different riders and the format was a RR and a TT, 1998 saw us go fortnightly and 53 different riders. As the numbers grew to stop a lot of ‘standing around’ the skills test was invented and became an integral part of the nights.

Our sponsor pulled out in 2000 so the league became known as ‘The League 2000’ a steady growth continued and in 2014 we had 151 different riders completing the 12 rounds.

  • 2014 151; 2013 146; 2012 125; 2011 110 (11 events);
  • 2010 113; 2009 141; 2008 120; 2007 124;
  • 2006 108; 2005 105; 2004 73; 2003 66;
  • 2002 76; 2001 82; 2000 58; 1999 48;
  • 1998 53; 1997 28 (6 events)

Year in bold, total number of different riders that year.

A big thanks must go to Norman Bielby, Bryan Bevis, Derek George, Pat Bielby, Sherry Binks, Margaret Bevis and, since he stopped competing, Josef George who help this to happen every year, however we are all getting older (except Joe) so to keep it going more fresh faces are required.

The club also continued to develop the administration side and in 2004 became only the third club in the whole of GB to become a fully accredited Go-Ride club, although we did start the process in 2002. I was also told at the time that the first two clubs had BC full time staff in their ranks.

As part of the process we had to provide :-

  • Documentation of the club management structure
  • Published membership fee and pricing policy for young people
  • Evidence of an open and inclusive constitution, and regular communication with members

Go-Ride is British Cycling’s development programme for young people. The programme provides a fun and safe way to introduce young riders to the world of cycle sport and provides a platform to improve bike handling skills. The Go-Ride programme incorporates Sport England’s Clubmark Scheme, which is a cross-sport quality accreditation for clubs with junior sections. We undergo assessments every three years (next one 2015) and must have at least three positions.

  • Club Coach Steve Binks:- Must be fully qualified to Level 2 and have up to date first aid.
  • Club Welfare Officer (Bill Millen) :- Must have attended a Good Practice and Child Protection Course, but cannot be a qualified coach.
  • Club Contact (for the last assessment Clive Thornton took the role for the purposes of Go-Ride only) :-This person must of completed the ‘Club for All’ course.

We were also instrumental in getting the Cycling Circuit. When Clairville Stadium was closed to cyclists British Cycling approached us, as a Go-Ride club, to front the campaign/bid to get the circuit built. A number of meetings were held between Middlesbrough Council, British Cycling (Peter Root) and myself representing the club. We even invited the Mayor to be guest of Honour at our Dinner Dance one year to keep the wheels turning. The circuit has helped youth development flourish on Teesside.

We hold youth coaching sessions every Monday night at the circuit with myself and Josef George being the main coaches but suitably assisted by Bill Millen and various parents. Numbers have been low this Autumn but hopefully will pick up in the new year. The sessions revolve around the youngsters having fun and wanting to be on their bikes, a typical session would start with group riding, followed by a specific skill and finish with races as varied as a time trial to a handicapped devil or slow race.

So if you do have any youngsters wanting to give cycling a go come on down on a Monday night cost £2.50 and then join in with the League 2000 next Spring/Summer and the next Mark Cavendish or Lizzie Armistead could be with us.

Steve Binks

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