After months of anticipation I started my challenge with The Reporters’ Academy, my challenge is to learn how to race BMX and ride at the 2012 World Championships in Birmingham.
I attended my first training session at the BMX Centre in the National Cycling Centre, Manchester. Where I met my coach, Dylan. From talking to him he seemed like a friendly, laid back guy, but I get the feeling that when it comes down to training he'll be a tough coach who will push me as far as I can go, which is great!
As well as meeting my coach, I also got to see the track I'll be training on. The BMX centre is so new that it isn't quite finished yet, and during my training session I caught a glimpse of some professionals testing out the track, some my age and younger. One of them was just 13 and is said to be Britain's 'rising star' – and from watching him on the track, I could see why. His level of control and technique is definitely a goal to work towards.
We started off the session with an introduction to my bike and the safety gear I will be using both on and off the track. The bike I am using at the moment is a Haro, I'm getting quite attached to this bike already! I also have my safety gear – shin guards, elbow pads, gloves and a helmet, as well as being shown how to put it all on properly. I asked Dylan when I would need to wear this safety equipment, and he told me that it's a must on the track, but when riding off the track, you only really need to wear it until you feel totally confident on the bike. I started off riding the BMX to school to get some extra practice in, but after I realised how much attention it generated when I found my schoolmates crowding round it one lunchtime, I decided it might be better to ride my own bike to school, and practice with the BMX in quieter places whilst I build my confidence up.
We then moved on to talk about riding itself, and Dylan gave me three vital points to focus on:
-When setting off, keep the pedal at 45 degrees.
-Keep the balls of your feet on the pedal whilst riding.
-And most importantly, stay strong on your bike – be confident, stand tall and keep your head high, both physically and mentally.
These three points have laid the groundwork for me to develop on during my own practice time. Personally, I have found the most difficult parts of riding so far to be stopping and starting. Once I've set off, the bike seems to flow naturally, but it's getting to that stage which is the hard part! I've also found that if you set off well, the rest will follow and become easier. Another thing I found challenging was turning, I think this is mainly due to the fact that I want to be able to do sharp, fast turns right away, but realistically I need to learn how to turn slowly and build the speed up. Whilst practising I have found it easier to keep a low centre of gravity because I'm quite tall (kind of like the Peter Crouch of BMXing!), so being lower down on the bike give me more control over it.
I think one of the main challenges I will be facing is going to be time management - I already have a lot of commitments and will have to make sure I don't overdo it. I spoke about this with Dylan who said it is possible to train too much, as it's such a physically demanding sport, so I should try and train as much as possible without burning myself out. Fitting my training in with playing for my football team every Sunday and training with them on Thursdays, refereeing on Saturdays, plus school and homework will be tough, but it's a challenge I welcome with open arms.
I feel like during this short week I've progressed a huge amount, not just on the bike but in terms of my outlook and confidence – at the start of week when I first got on the bike it seemed like such a daunting and huge task ahead of me, but after taking the first steps I have discovered that once you learn new things, they will stay with you and you can build on them from there. ...In fact, it's just like riding a bike!
Check back next week for an update on tomorrow's training session and how my practice is going! Each month we are producing film documentaries following my journey, I will post links to the films as soon as they are ready to be released.
“The Reporters’ Academy, a media production company run by young people, integrated into the world of Media, Education and Employment. www.TheReportersAcademy.com TheCrew@TheReportersAcademy.com"