Bendigo is a city of cycling culture and with a heritage that takes account of the many local family names being written in history books at national and world class events giving Bendigo its cycling pedigree. We can be proud of those that reached such dizzy heights, setting in place foundation stones through their experience to be learnt from and built on. Cycling is no doubt a tough sport, and only a chosen few have the intestinal fortitude and support to make it consistently at the higher levels. We see many athletes come and go in cycling that possibly could have made it with the right encouragement and support.
Some years ago Tim Decker and Dean Murphy reflected on this very point and how there is limited pathways for cyclists whether it be locally or at state or national institute level. The existing pathway is that if you are successful at some point in time in cycling at a National level you may get an invitation to join an institution but there is limited opportunity and many fall just short. Tim had been the head cycling coach for the Bendigo Bank Academy of Sport and had seen success in Zak Dempster, Glen O’Shea, Jamie Crass, George Tansley and Jessica Berry, to name but a few.
Tim was fortunate to be recognized for his developing talents as a coach and was invited to undertake some junior coaching opportunities with AIS, VIS and NSWIS and attended junior world cup and championship events. At these international events was where it was gleaned what other countries were doing in having a succession path for their juniors to have some longevity in the sport. Out of this insight and reflection on the regional Victoria talent pool, RACE “Regional Academy of Cycling Excellence” was birthed right here in the city of cycling heritage.
Prior to RACE limited opportunities existed for cyclists through the Bendigo Bank Academy of Sport structure from entry age groups of under 11’s, 13’s, 15’s and 17’s. Age group progression from under 19’s, to 23 and then into elite competition had no succession pathway structure, but is now central to the structure of RACE in developing athletes. The Statement of Purpose for RACE is to:
- help all members be the best they can be
- provide access to world class cycling coaches
- assist with providing access to health and well being education
- provide a structured mentor program for all members
- provide assistance to attend races both local, interstate and internationally.
RACE is an incorporated body with a Board of Management that oversees the strategic planning of the Academy and seeks a series of sub committees of members to make recommendations for board approval on the operational tasks to fulfil RACE’s purpose. While RACE is only in its infancy the backing of board members coaching staff, managers and leadership, mentors and committee members places many years of experience linked together, building a foundation that can hold firm for many years to come.
RACE’s philosophy is to have a holistic approach in partnership with athletes and their existing support networks of family, coach, club membership and other athletes that are around them and required to assist their development. RACE’s purpose in development of the athlete is measured and success is not just making winners but assisting and facilitating athletes to be able to progress to the highest level that they can as a person both on and off the bike. This can include supporting education, employment, and life skills within the sphere of influence being able to secure and Network within our community across Regional Victoria which RACE seeks to cater for. It is the Board’s desire that athletes passing through RACE gain experience that allows the athlete to join International Teams or to make it to State and National Institutes, and represent Australia at Commonwealth Games, Olympic and World Championships as leaders, coaches and athletes.
Like any not for profit incorporation sponsorship is the critical link in getting kit for the athletes to be well presented at events. The securing of long term sponsors is the hope and dream for the future and the cost is not meagre by any means to cover the spread of ages groups. Sponsorship under pins gaining access to the level of the sport that is required for RACE to be recognised as a vital link in the future as being a feeder of athletes into the higher levels of the sport.
See you on the road soon God willing