Building confidence through tailored training

This article was published in 2021, in Magazine 152.

Outspoken Training wants to empower more people to cycle and its mission to build riding confidence begins with its very own employees! We spoke to the team to find out more.

A montage of 3 pictures of adult learners riding with instructorsOutspoken Training exists to encourage more people to cycle, equipping them with the skills and confidence to ride for more of their everyday journeys. Managing Director Kieron McNab says the company believes that cycling has the power to transform communities by creating fitter, healthier and less congested neighbourhoods. The more journeys that are made by bike, the better communities can tackle the challenges they face including climate change, air pollution, rising obesity and mental health. Many people will be aware of the work their instructors do teaching children through the Bikeability programme for schools, but they also offer two-hour one-to-one sessions for individuals to help them reach their cycling goals. Some participants may be looking at getting a bike for the first time, some may be rusty riders looking to return to the saddle and others may be regular cyclists looking for route-specific advice or training on a different type of cycle, such as a cargo bike.

Cycle Skills sessions are particularly popular with individuals who’d like to start cycling to work. Instructors work with clients to determine the best route for their commute and boost their confidence in using cycling infrastructure and roads along the way. When Outspoken’s Personnel Administrator, Sophie, started in the role in summer 2021, a Cycle Skills lesson was top of the induction list! Kieron says: ‘We believe it is important to encourage and support employees with cycling to work. Aside from cycling often being the quickest mode of transport, it is an easy way to energise yourself for work, de-stress and reflect whilst having fun exercising. As an employer, we feel it is important to support employees to be more active, build cycling into their everyday lives and help them switch off from work. We believe this makes them enjoy work more’.

Sophie standing with her cycle by the work stands at Outspoken TrainingSophie’s two-hour skills session was conducted by Nikki Searle, who has over two decades of experience as a cycle trainer and was named as one of Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling for 2020. She says: ‘One-to-one cycle training can be transformative. We work with riders to understand the benefits of improved cycle control, good observation and communication skills, and knowledge of strong lane positioning. See and be seen is the Bikeability motto and the instructors emphasise the merits of these skills throughout the course.’

As a rusty rider coming back to cycling, I found the atmosphere very supportive and positive. I now feel more confident in exploring new routes. I noticed a big difference cycling home from work that day!

Sophie said: ‘As a rusty rider coming back to cycling, I found the atmosphere very supportive and positive. Nikki started me off-road to check and develop my bike handling skills. She then took me on roads that I initially found a bit daunting, but I had complete faith that if Nikki suggested it, then I could do it. Before my lesson I avoided roads and mainly used cycle paths, but Nikki made me realise that there is nothing wrong with using quieter routes and that I am a better cyclist than I thought. I now feel far more confident in exploring new routes with more traffic and more complex road situations. I even noticed a big difference cycling home from work that day!’

Nikki added: ‘Sophie was a pleasure to train. She was keen to learn, though doubting of her existing abilities. She swiftly proved her great Bikeability off-road Level 1 cycle control skills. As I took her through the stages of the Level 2 elements, on-road, it was great to watch Sophie’s confidence and assertiveness develop as she cycled with other
road users’.

The Camcycle team also benefited from cycle training over the summer, to build confidence riding the fully-loaded Camcycle stall bike. Communications and Community Officer, Anna Williams, said: ‘My training with Gary gave me the skills and techniques I needed to use the cargo bike with confidence in all traffic conditions and on a range of different cycleways. I learnt how best to handle heavy loads, how to manoeuvre safely when cycling, walking and parking the bike, and received advice on countering a few bad habits I’d picked up too! It was a really enjoyable and useful session and I’d highly recommend training to both beginner and more experienced cyclists’.

Find out more about Outspoken Training and book your own Cycle Skills session at outspokentraining.co.uk