Getting the youngsters on track

They went to enrich their leadership skills and left with the makings of a pretty decent track cycling team.

Cambridge Middle School’s 2024 student leaders visited the Grassroots Trust Velodrome last Thursday, finishing the day with a ‘have a go’ session run by head of programmes and coaching Craig Rodger.

“This is one of the top 20 velodromes in the world, so we’re really lucky to have it on our doorstep in Cambridge, let alone in New Zealand,” he told the students.

Craig Rodger directs traffic

Craig encouraged the young leaders to get a team together for the upcoming Battle of the Schools on April 13, a three-rider team sprint event open to accredited and non-accredited riders in years 6-10.

Twelve-year-old Millie Flatt, who had never cycled competitively or ridden at the Velodrome before, said she would consider that.

“I was nervous at the start, but once I got up there it was so fun – I just wanted to go higher and higher,” she said.

Earlier in the day she and fellow leaders took part in a session run by 24/7 youth workers, did some school event planning and heard a talk from New Zealand Olympic cyclist Callum Saunders.

“He told us to follow our dreams,” Millie said. “He said he wasn’t sporty at all as a kid, but when he started biking he loved it.”

Danielle Fuller

Teacher Danielle Fuller, who said she hadn’t ridden a bike since high school, also braved the track with sweaty palms and a pounding heart.

“If I’m going to make them do it I have to do it too,” she said.

She survived the experience – but did take a tumble requiring her arm to be cleaned and wrapped in Gladwrap for the burn.

Principal Daryl Gibbs gave it a shot too.

“It was so much fun,” he said. “You can see why they get addicted to it, these guys that fly around.

“It’s just cool, all these staff have been amazing with the kids today and we have this amazing facility in our backyard. I think there’s this perception it’s only for Olympians, but they’re actually really welcoming to school groups.”

Freddie Fulforth

The team outside the Velodrome. Photo: Danielle Fuller

Millie Flatt just wanted to go “higher and higher”.

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