Back in March of 2008 I was fortunate to be in attendance for the Manchester World Cycling Championships (which is a whole other story in itself ) and my very good friend Guy Elliot (DHL Transport) asked if we might be interested in sending four Junior racers over to compete in the Future Stars Competition they sponsor as part of the Revolution Meeting.
For the past three seasons I have been enjoying some of the thrills of passing down my cycling knowledge to young, up and coming Canadian cycling stars at our indoor Velodrome in London, Ontario. Speaking to my associate Rob Good, Velodrome Director for FCV, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take our lad’s to the absolute mecca of track cycle racing – Manchester.
Over the following months we slowly pieced together the details. Rob and I made careful consideration as to who we had on our side of the Atlantic that could not only race, but could compete at this new level. At the same time we wanted to bring all of Canada into this, so we contacted Cycling British Columbia’s Jeremy Storie. BC had two very successful Jrs. that we recognised from the previous seasons Canadian National Championships.
So the four boys were chosen. From BC we had Jacob Schwingboth and Scotty Mulder. From Ontario we chose Ryan Aitcheson and Allan Leparskas. Unfortunately by the time we could organise the complete package and get a suitable date with Revolution, two of the boys had turned 17 years old. Guy Elliot said to bring them anyway. The two older boys Ryan and Jacob would compete at Elite level, but we didn’t tell them till they were on the plane over to Manchester! As an added bonus DHL Transport along with Terry Dolan of Dolan Cycles sponsored our racers with four complete Dolan track bikes.
We had a bit of bother getting to Manchester due to weather here on the Canadian side, but by the morning of Friday January 9th we were on the track and the boys were experimenting with their new Dolans.
Although we were a little tired that first day we had a fantastic time. The staff and management at the Velodrome were absolutely the best with accommodating us. After we trained to loosen up the legs from the plane flight we had a little lunch, then Bob Barber Velodrome manager gave us a brilliant tour. Our boys were just in awe of the historical cycling memorabilia. Photo’s of World Champions, bicycles both old and new and – my all time favourite – the display of Beryl Burtons accomplishments. Then, to top off an already remarkable day, on our way out the door I was standing in the foyer waiting for the lads to get changed when in walks the man himself.
Sir Chris Hoy!! I have followed Chris’ career for many years now and had the privilege of meeting him a handful of times. Chris gave me a warm welcome to Manchester. I turned around to Rob Good and said “Where are the boys? Go get them! Quick!”. The boys came running out of the changing room to see Sir Chris standing there and, in very typical Chris style, he took the time to be photographed with us.
Supper that night was very entertaining listening to the humorous stories of the day!!
Saturday arrives and as we head down to the track for ,5pm the Velodrome is getting set up for a Revolution. The atmosphere is already quite a buzz.
As we unpacked our bags and equipment I could hear the lads saying, “ Oh, there is Victoria”, “Look! that’s Jason Kenny”, they were just amazement at the cycling legends in attendance.
While the boys are warming up on the track Rob and I got a copy of the evenings schedule. Each rider should get in at least four races.
First thing – and probably one of the most patriotic happenings – was the introductions. The Canadians had never raced in front of a packed house like Revolution. We brought over with us 100 mini Canadian flags. When each lad was introduced and took their lap of the track, they made their way to the railing and fired off a hand full of flags into the crowd.
The first race was the Elite Devil. Most of the racers seemed to use this as a bit of a warm up. We told our two riders to go out there and see what they can do, try to get feel for things. They were pumped.
The evening went just about as well as can be expected. The two in Elite had some difficulty with the speed (apparently the average speed of one of the scratch races was 58kph) but all in all they participated and remained positive after.
The other two riders in the DHL Future Stars program got their feet wet. Unfortunately, Allan Leparskas crashed in the first race and broke the forks on his new Dolan. Within minutes David Brailsford whistled to someone and we had a spare bike; Allan’s back in action. Terry Dolan was in attendance and he got us some new forks and with the aid of a very kind GB mechanic we had Allan’s n
ew bike repaired for first thing Sunday morning.
The Future Stars program is fantastic to watch. I was overly impressed with the speed of these youngsters. Scotty Mulder had a few goes at the front and rode very well considering jet lag and all. But back at the hotel that night the four boys were really motivated.
Sunday morning we were invited to participate in a GB Jr. squad training program. It was a series of coach controlled races where riders have discussion after. I found the discussion to be very positive and certainly taught them the good things and corrected the wrong things while fresh in their minds. We were also very pleased to see our boys at the front of these races fighting for places in each event.
Sunday afternoon was wind down time for our group. The whole experience had been remarkable from start to finish. We all went to downtown Manchester and we had a great meal .
I would like to personally thank some people for making it happen.
Guy Elliot (DHL) ,Terry Dolan ( Dolan Cycles), Fran Miller, Camilla Speers of (Face), Gordon Harling at Revolution, Bob Barber and Tony O’Brien from the Velodrome – and many more – Thank you.