The success of Southland’s cyclists on the international stage has not been lost on locals as beginners are riding into lessons in record numbers.
Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton said the number of youngsters wanting to start track cycling was “definitely trending up”.
“We can have, at times, up to 18 youngsters in a session taking part in the learn to ride programme, which is awesome.”
The club offers “Wheelers” sessions for children aged 10-14 wanting to have a go and learn how to ride the track.
From there they can progress to the “Flyers” sessions for the same age group but at intermediate skill level.
“Once they have graduated that they can take part in races and move into the Rocket U13 advanced session that we have created to cater for the spillover,” Hotton said.
Cycling Southland had also seen growth in the number of masters and adult riders, he said.
Hotton said there had been a strong history of Southlanders
performing well at cycling.
“Southlanders love to cycle because it’s such a good sport. If you have got two riders, you have got a race.”
Southland had three cyclists at the Rio Olympics, Eddie Dawkins, Natasha Hansen and Pieter Bulling.
Dawkins claimed silver while Hansen was narrowly pipped for a bronze.
The trio would be an inspiration for budding young cyclists in the region, Hotton said.
He said Invercargill having the first indoor velodrome in the country had also continued the sport’s growth.
“It marked 10 years this year [since it opened] and we are definitely seeing the benefits…”
The road racing season has just begun and Hotton said he had seen strong growth in that field as well.
“Sixty-eight riders took part [two weeks ago], including about 15 junior riders. We are also developing coached sessions at Teretonga for road riding for juniors ahead of the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland [in September].”