You might have seen them, cycling out on the lanes or chatting amiably over coffee. They are all shapes and sizes and all ages, wearing all kinds of different kit, but they all seem to be loving life.
Have you wondered what inspired these women to take to two wheels and become part of Stockton Wheelers Women’s section, or indeed how the group first came to exist?
Jayne Woods is the Ladies’ Section Ride Leader Stockton Wheelers Cycling Club. Here Jayne tells her story and gives an insight into her journey into coaching.
Having had a fairly inactive childhood and, by her own admission, not having a ‘sporty bone in her body’ Jayne has not enjoyed a typical pathway into Sports Coaching. She only started to get involved in coaching in her early 40’s.
“It started when my son began to ride with the Stockton Wheelers Junior section. I saw how much work others were doing to support the club and thought I could help out.
I started as a Welfare Officer, more comfortable with paper work than with two wheels! However with the support of others, including my husband, I became more practically involved in the junior sessions and was encouraged to take a level 2 coaching award. Initially I worked with the under 7 yr olds and gave additional support to any children with special needs.”
Jayne recounts hearing some of the other Mums down at the track talk about the sessions and how they felt they had missed out through not having had the opportunity to cycle. Seizing the opportunity to start something new Jayne suggested some group rides for the Mums and any other women who wanted to get involved.
“It was a long slog turning those initial suggestions of interest into reality. Women can be very negative about themselves and often lack confidence in their own ability. I have had women tell me they are too slow, too fat, too unfit, too time pressured or don’t have the right kit to have a go at cycling. I’ve spent hours reassuring new riders. We all start from a certain level and the only way to get better and more confident is keep doing the activity.
As a group we are a pretty supportive bunch and all work to encourage the ‘newbies’. Experience tells us that self-belief takes time to develop. It’s not about being the best, it’s about being the best you can be!
It is clear how much time and effort Jayne puts into leading the weekly rides. She plots routes that are achievable but offer the right level of challenge. There is usually a shorter and longer version to accommodate different abilities. She checks that the all important café stops can cater for the size of the groups and will be open at the right time.
As well as ‘weekly rides’ Jayne has co-ordinated annual challenges for the section, giving people something to aim for. These group adventures really help with group bonding as well. Over the last few years the group have achieved Coast to Coast rides across England and Scotland, they have battled London to Paris and have pedalled ‘The Way of the Roses’.
Many of the women taking part would not have even contemplated these challenges without Jayne’s encouragement, support and enthusiasm.
When speaking of her inspiration to coach it is clear that Jayne thrives on the achievements of others. This comes across as one of her main motivations as a coach.
“My husband has motivated me and supported me, especially in the beginning when I was the one with self-doubts. Now I think my biggest reward is the achievements of my fellow rider and friend Gillian. She has progressed from a very tentative rider to someone with ‘Can-Do Attitude’!. Gillian has pushed herself through every challenge and has supported others along the way.
It is great to see that confidence and ability blossom.
As a whole the group are happy to accept any challenge (within reason) I put on. They have a belief that they can succeed however daunting it might appear at first. I think this stems from the encouragement, support, fun and camaraderie I have built up which now has a life of its own.”
Jayne is very clear that the rewards of her coaching work both ways. The women she works with get a massive amount from her but she obviously enjoys her involvement. As well as leading the group she is an integral part of it.
“I love to see riders enjoyment of the sport and time riding with us on whatever level. I still enjoy my own cycling, I find it really invigorating and as clichéd as it sounds it really does help with your mental well being! I’m a very positive happy person and I like people to feel the same as me. I love life, I hope that I help others to love life too.”
Would Jayne encourage other women to get involved in coaching and leadership? Absolutely she would, but this comes with the warning that it is not always easy and the adage of ‘not being able to please all of the people all of the time’ is certainly relevant.
“Don’t think it is easy, do it because you really want to. Be positive, confident, flexible and tolerant. Be ready for all sorts of characters. Smile and be honest and tactful.
Posted on 10th June 2019