Great 2012 leads to exciting 2013 plans

With the end of the year nearing, many organisations such as Cycling Southland are reviewing the good, the bad and the ugly from the year that's been and planning for next year.

Fortunately for cycling there has been plenty of good and, aside from some bloke Armstrong, not a lot of ugly.

While the flagship events, including our recent Tour of Southland and the UCI Juniors Track World Championships, are the big, shiny things most people remember, the work I am most proud of is at the club and entry levels of the sport.

To see the numbers coming through our beginner programmes on the track and road is heartening. It is a real focus for us in the year ahead, with an aim of continuing to make it easier for people to get on a bike with us and then to develop their skills.

The cornerstone of this is our soon-to-launch Pedaling Pathway. This is our new road rider education and development programme. It will help those new to the sport, and those a little more experienced, to achieve cycling goals - to whatever level they aim for.

We are also aiming to significantly expand our hugely successful Learn to Ride programme in Southland primary schools. This is a wonderful partnership with Sport Southland and KiwiSport and our good mates at the Southland MTB and BMX clubs and it is at this level that our team is really making a difference.

During the six weeks of the programme, kids who have hardly been on a bike are throwing away trainer wheels and experiencing a newfound confidence, having a heap of fun along the way. We can't wait to get to more primary schools next year.

Short story is there are some exciting plans to capitalise on the high profile our sport has enjoyed in the past year so, be warned, you can expect to hear plenty more from us to join us for a ride.

★★★ The latest UCI World Cup round in Glasgow at the weekend showed the four-year changing of the guard that accompanies the Olympic Games cycle has already started. The most notable examples were New Zealand's sole representative in Scotland, Dylan Kennett, 17, riding his way to fourth in the men's individual pursuit yesterday, and Britain's Elinor Barker, who, like Kennett, shone brightly at the Junior Worlds in Invercargill in August, partnering with world and Olympic champions Laura Trott and Dani King to win the women's team pursuit gold on Saturday.

We'll get a first-hand look at the new wave of talent at the elite and under-19 track nationals at the velodrome from January 31. That will be a fitting way to start another new year.

Nick Jeffrey is chief executive of Cycling Southland.

The Southland Times