By Andrew Hunt
THE Kirklees Cycling Academy (KCA) has received the perfect present with confirmation from British Cycling that it has secured the Sport England Clubmark status.
The academy, which is based at Spen Valley Sports College, was only formed 12 months ago but has grown and now boasts 50 regular members, catering for children aged eight to 18 years old.
KCA have also set up unprecedented links with other clubs, which enables youngsters to get the best from different cycling disciplines.
KCA secretary Darren Stringer said: “Other clubs have started sending their kids to us for specialist indoor training and we, in turn, send our youngsters to clubs for outdoor training.
“We also set up links with other clubs, to help ease costs of training at the Manchester Velodrome.
“British Cycling have used us as an example and are now encouraging other clubs to do a similar thing.
“When we formed the club, we set goals of wanting our riders to have fun and encouraging a healthy lifestyle but we also want children to compete in various events and races. Our aim was to help develop a regional champion in three years and a national champion within five years.”
A number of KCA members competed in races last summer and officials are confident several youngsters can push for honours in the coming months.
Harry Hardcastle finished fifth in a White Rose League event last year, while brothers Mason and Henry Hollyman are also hoping for big things.
Mason, 11, finished second in a BSCA Cyclo Cross meeting last month, while eight-year-old Henry went one better by winning his age related event.
Josh Cutler, 16, and Lucy Aldridge, 14, gained national recognition and were invited down to a British Cycling run national camp in Leicestershire this week.
The club also have 13 members who now hold British Cycling Racing licences and KCA are hoping for further success when the road racing season begins in April.
“The idea to form a club came from Dave Sowerby, of Sowerby Brothers Cycles in Mirfield,” added Darren. “While there were well established clubs, who catered for juniors in Huddersfield and Holmfirth, there was nothing in the Spen area.
“We took the idea to British Cycling and they put us in touch with Spen Valley Sports College, who are hoping to get grants to have a cycling track within their grounds.”
Anna Dawson, 12, has made great progress since taking up the sport and will be hoping for success in her second season, while 14-year-old Harmonie Waterman has been impressing at the club’s indoor time trials, riding two minutes quicker than her nearest rival over the 8K distance.
Darren said: “Most of our riders come within five miles of Spen Valley Sports College. A lot come from Liversedge and Roberttown but we also have children from Holmfirth, Edgerton and Ossett.”
While Darren is mainly a social rider, who enters a couple of races each year, KCA have head coach Ivan Boyes, who enters between 15 and 20 races a year. Mark Sadler and ex-professional rider Mick Collins are also on hand to offer their expertise to youngsters.
The club are grateful to sponsors, whose backing has helped them buy equipment and KCA recently received a £500 grant from the Brian Robinson Foundation.
They used some of the sponsorship money to purchase seven racing bikes for youngsters.
Darren added: “Harry Hardcastle didn’t have his own bike, so he rode on one of ours all last year in races.
“He has taken to the sport so well, that his dad bought him a new bike for Christmas, which is another example of what the club are trying to achieve.”
KCA train on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at various cycling disciplines. Visit the club’s website www.k-ca.org for full details of times and arrangements.