Last Friday evening we were delighted to receive the award for Best Social Enterprise at the Cardiff Business Awards 2018. It always feels great to be recognised and this was no exception. Of course we’d also like to congratulate all the other winners and finalists.
But what’s a social enterprise I hear you ask? Admittedly it’s a broad category, covering large scale organisations such as Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water to small – medium enterprises (SME’s) like ourselves. A common definition is a company whose profits are reinvested in the business for social, ethical or environmental purposes. We are a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to removing barriers to cycling. That could mean training children to cycle safely on the road, teaching people how to look after their own bike or selling affordable and reliable bikes to the public by reusing bikes destined for the waste stream. We are proud of the scope of our activities and also of the fact that we are able to make them commercially viable and are over the moon to be recognised.
Battle on the Beach? What’s that got to do with bikes I hear you ask. Well, it’s a bike race that takes place in Pembrey Country Park around this time of year, the beach element being the incredible Cefn Sidan beach which forms part of the course. Organised in the usual brilliant manner by bike events company, A Cycling, this year’s edition was blessed with a monster tailwind, yet cursed with some pretty heavy showers.
Thankfully Team CTW, consisting of myself, Workshop Coordinator, Jon Howes and my 15 year old son Daniel, had managed to complete the race by the time that these rolled through, leaving us feeling both simultaneously smug and sympathetic as we watched many bedraggled riders arrive at the finish. That smug feeling disappeared soon enough , once I began the MTB’rs ritual dance of getting changed in a rainy car park! That was the only blemish on the whole experience however.
The race is unusual in that 6km of it’s 14km lap run along the length of the beach at low tide. Thanks to this it draws both a big and quality field, including a dedicated beach racing team from Holland. With 700 riders listed race we thought we should get to the line relatively early to ensure a good start and headed down with around 30 minutes to go. On seeing the number of riders already there we resigned ourselves to a cold wait and starting from the back.
Soon enough we were ushered onto the beach proper and upto a very wide start line, many, many riders deep. Anticipation was keen, the atmosphere helped in no small part by lots of spectators and a very loud, brilliant band of drummers perched in the dunes directly behind us. Shortly the flag went down and the lead quad bike sped off along the sand. Of course chaos ensued, we all began sprinting hell for leather towards the harder sand slightly further down the beach, some tried to ride but got nowhere, some went for different lines in an attempt to get to to a rideable surface that bit quicker. Once on my bike I quickly ran out of gears as I tried to keep up with the riders all around me. People were passing me left and right and I was passing others too. After a few minutes things settled down into a long bunch as riders drafted behind others. I checked my speed and was amazed to see I was doing 45kmh. Pretty much unheard of on the flat!
As I tried to maintain a rhythm I heard a shout from beside me, “Alright Dad?” My team mate Daniel was there and thanks to his slightly larger chainring he was flying. I told him not to wait for me and he edged ahead. Soon enough we reached the turn off the beach into the MoD land that had been opened especially for this event. The grassy double track was bumpy and tough going, especially into the wind that had just blown us down the beach. Being a race for any off-road capable bike, there was a variety of machines. The cross and gravel bikes were quick along the beach and fireroads, my MTB was good through the dunes and the singletrack, resulting in a couple of good duels with other riders thoughout the race. (the CX bike won…)
After around 35 minutes I began to hear the PA from the event arena, popped out of the woods and across the line to start lap 2. More of the same for two more laps! In total I raced 3 laps finishing in 1:43:22. My overall position being 224/661 and in the veterans category I was 88/249. Daniel raced two laps finishing in 1:13:21 and 15/35. We were both pleased with our races, Daniel particularly as it was the first one he’d done for a couple of years. The winner, Bram Imming, finished three laps in 1;13:29, clocking 36mph along the beach at one point.
It has to be said that this is a brilliantly conceived and executed event. Congratulations to the team at A Cycling for a cracking job all round. It’s hard to get the balance between keeping it “serious” enough for professional and amateur racers alike, yet ensuring riders who don’t take things as seriously, enjoy themselves too. This event manages that magnificently! No doubt we’ll be back at this or one of the other A Cycling events in the future.
For Team CTW, the next event will probably be one or two rounds of the Welsh XC series and a DIY audax or two as I build up to Bristol Bikefest 6 hour race in June.
An opportunity for a workshop mechanic to develop and expand a repair service for one of Wales’s leading social enterprises.
Location: Cardiff Hours: 15 per week Remuneration: £8.50 per hour gross Holiday and pension: pro rata (from a 37.5 hour week)
Undertaking repairs and servicing of customers’ bikes.
Assisting in the refurbishment of donated bicycles and carrying out pre-delivery inspections on bicycles that have been serviced by volunteers.
Assisting in the promotion and marketing of CCW’s repair service.
Collection of abandoned or donated bikes as raw material for the refurbishing project.
Assisting in sales of refurbished bikes.
Representing the organization professionally and appropriately as required to the general public, existing or prospective customers, commercial partners, or other organizations.
Managing stock levels , ordering components and liaising with suppliers as requested.
Dealing with customers and taking payments as required.
Working closely in cooperation with the CTW Coordinator.
Candidates must have a relevant bicycle maintenance qualification (Velotech Gold/Platinum, Cyctech 2, or equivalent).
Candidates must have at least 2 years’ experience working as a bicycle mechanic within the last 4 years.
Candidates must have experience of working with a wide variety of bikes (mountain, road, commuter, child) at different price points.
Candidates must be able to work unsupervised and be able to prioritise and schedule workload.
Be able to communicate in Welsh.
Experience in customer service.
How to apply
Applications should be sent to Andrew Burns either by email (email@example.com) or by post to Cycle Training Wales, Unit 9, Gabalfa Workshops, Clos Menter, Cardiff CF14 3AY. Application should be by CV and covering letter. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday 8 February 2018.
If you’ve ever spent a wet 15 minutes on a roadside verge struggling to remove your rear wheel, watch this video about how to do it the quick way.
It is, after all, supposed to be a quick job. In this video, our workshop coordinator Jon shows you how to get a wheel off a typical hybrid bike with V-brakes. Remember that getting the wheel out shouldn’t require any force, just a bit of gentle manipulation and persuasion. With a bit of practice, you could get this task done in a couple of seconds. If you don’t have V-brakes, never fear. Road brakes are even easier, just remember to push the lever on the caliper upwards into the open position. Disk brakes require no brake adjustment, but remember to line the rotor up carefully with the gap between the pads when putting the wheel back in. Remember too that if you can master the back wheel, the front one is a cinch.
A really fantastic bike from a heritage British manufacturer. A 60cm, Reynolds 531 steel frame, built up with a set of handbuilt wheels and original Shimano running gear. Utilising Shimano 600 friction shifters and rear mech and a Dura Ace chainset, this bike was certainly at the upper end of Holdsworth’s range and it still feels great to ride. Updated in our workshop with new cables, bar tape and Schwalbe Delta Cruiser Plus tyres. A true vintage racing bike, lightweight and in excellent condition. Onsale for the very first time on Friday 1st December at 1pm, priced at a competitive £240.
If you are looking for the ideal gift for the significant cyclist in your life, Cycle Training Wales can provide you with a gift voucher for Christmas which can be redeemed against any of our maintenance courses. Click here for more details.
I have done many MTB races and events over the last few years and have always really appreciated the time and effort put in by the marshalls. With that in mind and with a delayed start to my own racing season this year, I decided to volunteer at last weekend’s Battle on the Beach race in Pembrey. Continue reading The other side of the tape