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Sprocket Rocket 2011, An Unqualified Success Story

posted 30 Aug 2011, 03:01 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 30 Aug 2011, 15:49 ]
Limbo Practice at Sprocket Rocket
(By Shay O'Toole) 
Last Monday night, August 29th, saw the summer programme for the junior Wheelers draw to a close. For the last five years we have been steadily building this section of the club and since 2006 we have grown from a steady group of 15 kids in Ladestown to what we thought was a record breaking crowd of 80 kids last year in Belvedere. However, this year we signed up to the Cycling Ireland/Subway sponsored Sprocket Rocket programme, and all hell broke loose.

Earlier this year fourteen adult Wheelers went on a Sprocket Rocket coaching day to enable them to be “Rocket” leaders. Then, in May, we held the registration day at which we were prepared for up to 100 kids to sign on, but how wrong we were. On the advice of the people in Cycling Ireland who were astounded at the response in Mullingar, we were forced to close the books at 150. Whilst this boded very well for the sport in general and also for the reputation of Lakeside Wheelers, it posed major logistical challenges. For starters, where were we going to bring this army of young Wheelers on Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes even the Stabiliser gang?  Our Youth Officer and Sprocket Rocket coordinator, Robbie Kenny, was never known to back down easily so he and his team set about putting in place a system that was sprung into action on June 13th and by God did it work!!!

Thankfully a venue was secured and we are indebted to Fr. Paul Connell in St Finians College who gave us full access to the massive grounds of this impressive site on the edge of town. For anyone who did not witness Sprocket Rocket “Live” you have missed out on an amazing spectacle. Just imagine the scene where you are faced with 150 energetic kids on their bikes, all of them at different ages and abilities and now, it’s up to YOU to teach AND entertain them at the same time?  Yes, as I thought, most of you would probably opt to have a go at sorting out the Health Service or the National Debt, but not the “Rocket” team.

Seriously, this was a huge undertaking and one which turned out to be an unqualified success story for Lakeside Wheelers. Over the course of the next ten weeks (only two sessions cancelled due to weather) these kids (and their parents) turned up and WERE taught and entertained to the extent that the improvements in their cycling was clearly visible from start to finish. The programme consists of putting the kids through a series of exercises to make them more secure, confident and skilful on their bikes. On two occasions we took the session to different locations to avoid any potential monotony. During National Bike Week we brought the complete squad along the canal tow path from the Green Bridge to Ballinea and back and then two weeks ago, we brought them to the shores of Lough Ennell for a blow out. Something like the IRFU going to Carton House, maybe not, but these diversions served their purpose!

Sprocket Rocket 2011 - Final Leg

On the final night Robbie and the team organised a small cyclo cross route for the older riders and a games session for the younger ones. Due to the exposure from word of mouth in Mullingar the Westmeath Examiner sent over a reporter to experience and record what we were all about, so thanks to Oonagh Darcy. Thanks also to Wheeler, Kevin Monaghan who turned up at short notice to take some photos and catch the party atmosphere.  We also had music, goodies and last but not least, everyone got their Sprocket Rocket kit bag and T-Shirt.

It is important to note that throughout the entire programme there was not one injury recorded which is testament to the professionalism and dedication of the team, pure Lakeside Wheelers!

So that’s it for this year and judging by the response from participants, and from those not lucky enough to sign up in time for 2011 we could easily have a waiting list for next year. I think a rest for the “Rocket” team is well due for now and I’m sure in a few weeks there will be a review of how things went and where to go from here. I have no doubt that Lakeside Wheelers and Mullingar will see several budding cyclists emerge from this programme so the future is certainly bright.

The full list of Sprocket Rocket coaches is Robbie Kenny, Jimmy Marshall, Muirna Walsh, Paula Murray, Noel Delaney, Craig Sterrett, Billy Cunnane, Nigel Scarff, Sean Gaffney, Jacinta O’Brien, Eddie Tyrell, Clem Bartley, Michelle Culligan/ Collentine and lastly, our club President, John Boyhan, Arthur Dempsey, Paul McCool, Vera McCool, Steve Franzoni and Dave Byrne.  You all deserve a well earned break so on behalf of the Lakeside Wheelers committee, thank you and well done.

Participants in the final leg of Sprocket Rockeet 2011 on Monday evening.
Participants in the final leg of Sprocket Rockeet 2011 on Monday evening.
More pictures of Monday's event here.