Cycling Festival gets kids involved. Dave Young reports

For the third year running the 1066 Cycling Festival brought a host of bike-themed entertainments and exhibitors to the Stade, attracting a steady stream of visitors over both days of last weekend. HIP pedalled down the seafront to meet some of the participants.

Active Hasting
“This year we’ve had a lot of people attending specifically, rather than tourists who’ve chanced upon us,” explained festival organiser Eugene Demedza. Funded by Hastings Borough Council the event was particularly focussed on opportunities for younger people, whose parents might be worried about safety or unable to teach them, to begin riding. All this and a cycle-powered Scalextric too!

1066 Cycle Club
Rob and Joe (happy to admit to being 68 and 71 respectively) from the 1066 Cycle Club were a good advertisement for cycling’s health benefits.
With an emphasis on making it a social activity the club organises a busy programme of rides, including evening events and all-important coffee stops, throughout Sussex and further afield. Unlike clubs dominated by ‘Mamils’ (middle-aged men in lycra) there’s an even gender balance and wide age range, possibly a reason why membership is increasing. Rides vary in distance and steepness in order to suit varying ability levels, with plenty of mutual support and assistance to help new riders build confidence.

Beat the Street
With 15,000 people already signed up in just four days for this year’s seven week challenge – open to walkers too – participants can score points and win prizes by cycling from point to point and tapping a registered ’Beat the Street’ card on sensors (Beat Boxes) placed on lamp posts locally and across East Sussex. Check online for a map and how to get a points card.

Young visitors to Sustrans could ‘bling their bike’ or even make (and drink) a smoothie by simply pedalling. In addition to pioneering and promoting a national cycle path network, the cycling charity has two local project officers, funded by East Sussex County Council, to encourage cycling to work, school and for fun. “We’ve got the cycle paths, now we need to encourage people to use them – you could start by riding to Hastings Pier”

Source Park
Younger riders enjoyed tackling a series of small ramps under the watchful eyes of staff from Source Park. Better known for skateboarding, Source Park also runs BMX coaching programmes. On Mondays between 12.30 -1.30 tots on pedal-less ‘balance bikes’ can learn the basics. Between 4-8 pm every weekday they run hourly BMX sessions for older children to develop skills, equipment knowledge and the confidence to enjoy Source Park independently. Echoing the advice of Joe Oakley (see the report here), staff advise:  “The younger you start the better, and the more time you spend on the bike the better you’ll be.” Maybe even making it to a future Olympic team?

Fire and Rescue Service
Keen cyclist and firefighter Daniel Burnett has developed a ‘Cycle Smarter’ safety initiative. Providing a mix of road awareness and first aid training, Dave and his colleagues (who run courses at Bohemia road fire station) focus on the sort of accident prevention work essential to the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. They teach simple techniques, including road positioning, not wearing headphones while riding, and good bike maintenance. [email protected]

PICTURES: Dave Young

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