Our youth riders are ripping up the road.
Brighton Excelsior CC has an outstanding youth section; VC Jubilee [VCJ]. Activities specifically for younger members take place away from the road in the relative safety of the South Downs, the cyclocross course or the velodrome. However, with a galaxy of British road cycling stars receiving so much deserved coverage it’s only natural that some of our talented juniors have ambitions on the tarmac. The spirit of a sports club is strongest when the teenagers challenge the grown-ups and, although our Club Runs are not races, the likes of Jack Churchill, Chris Dunstan, Bill Demuth and others have really mixed things up to the benefit of everyone. Okay they’ve tormented us at times, but in a good way. These 3 are also spearheading our junior time-trialling activity and recently represented us in the national championships in Welwyn (gallery). Let’s hear what they have to say.
On the Road
Jack - Cycling with the club is great. What I love about it is being able to ride with other people who love cycling. I started riding at the VCJ mountain biking sessions and was instantly hooked, riding with people my ages was (and is) something that helped me ride that little bit harder. These sessions are seriously fun and are the root of all my cycling skills. Now, I also ride with Brighton Excelsior on their Thursday and Sunday road rides. It's brilliant to not just ride with the adults but keep up as well! These rides have improved my riding immensely. Last year I went from getting dropped in the first corner of my first race to finishing 5th in the overall league. I try to get out on the road rides as much as possible and the Sunday club ride is my favourite of the week; being able 'race' up the hills is just an amazing feeling.
Chris (who joined Brighton Excelsior directly)
I joined the club last year (2014) and in that time have taken part in many of the clubs rides and events. Before joining Brighton Excelsior I rode alone about once a week. I started to ride on the Sunday Club Runs which have helped me to gain fitness and learn new things about cycling.
Chris - Since my first time trial about 14 months ago I have taken park in many of the club’s Evening 10 series. This summer I qualified as part of a Brighton Excelsior team for the national championships over ten miles, where past winners include Chris Boardman and Alex Dowsett. Looking forwards I hope to begin next year with the ambition of doing well at county and national level in the time trial as well as starting to race some road races throughout the season next year.
Jack - This year I have also done the club's Tuesday night Time Trials where my PB at the beginning of the year was 27:15, now it’s 23:38. This massive improvement is probably my best achievement on the bike. Looking forward, my biggest ambition for the coming years is to try and break the club’s Juvenile Time Trial record which is 22:18. I would also like to ride some of the National Youth Circuit Races, especially the Isle of Man Youth Tour which takes place over multiple days in May. Furthermore I'd like to get a Top 5 for my age at the National Time Trial Championships which is held every September.
Another younger rider, Kamran, captures the whole thing succinctly; many of our adult riders would share these sentiments:
“Cycling has always helped me to forget about my problems and it is fun to go out and ride with VCJ or Excelsior. The club has always helped me ever since I started, they have also given me the motivation to go out. Since I began cycling I have improved a lot and will hopefully be improving a lot more.”
As a club we aim to get people of all ages involved with cycling for the long term. A quick glance around our oldest members clearly demonstrates the benefits and confirms that “You don’t cycle because you’re fit. You’re fit because you cycle.” When youngsters move on to higher levels of competition than we can cater for, like Zak and Amy did this year, we see it as a mission accomplished and members are always welcome back. We’re here to develop the skills, fitness and enthusiasm and to kindle the spark of competitive aspirations. In 2016 the track should be open again and we will hit the new season with race ready juniors and seniors all of whom have played their part in motivating each other. It’s an exciting time to be at Brighton Excelsior CC and the future is looking bright.