I said a while ago that I planned to resurrect the innovation from Lockdown 1 for these Friday emails of asking others to contribute. You’ve all been very polite about how much you enjoy reading these updates, but luckily for you my riding buddy is not so polite and reminded me that it would be nice to hear from people other than me.
So, today I have asked Dominic to contribute. He needs little by way of introduction for most of you, but I will say this. Our youth have had a terrible time in the last year, but with people like Dominic running our schools, I’m confident they will be OK. Much as the unruly and boisterous riders in the Long 4 benefit from his enlightened leadership on those Sunday rides, so the young people in his charge at Elmgreen will be the secure future of this country. And for goodness sake, can we get him a yellow cap?
Head of Elmgreen School & Long 4 Ride Leader
James has asked me to return to the Friday email 1 year after I wrote about the craziest week of my life, when the schools and the country shut down in March last year. This of course coincides with this week’s reopening of schools and mass testing programmes. If you don’t know me, I’m Head of The Elmgreen School on the Tulse Hill/ West Norwood borders and one time Long 4 rider (still haven’t got the yellow cap).
I’m sure the Chairman is a big fan of Vladimir Lenin and his line;
“There are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen”
This has been particularly true in education in the last twelve months. From the original shutdown to Free School Meals to the exams fiasco, to the original disastrous plan for mass testing at Christmas and the opening and reopening after Christmas, schools have had periods of intense activity and intense scrutiny in the last year whilst families have heroically supervised the schooling of their children. There are lots of surveys out there saying that Heads have undergone intense peaks of stress over the last 12 months (‘poor well paid, job secure professionals’ I hear you cry) and I love my job but it’s fair to say that it’s been a roller coaster, but I also wouldn’t do anything else.
And then they’re back…. and it’s great. I’ve banned the phrase ‘catch up’ and ‘lost generation’. We are talking about recovery and a manifesto for change going forward. I know that the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ has grown significantly and that we have so much to do in the sphere of chronically underfunded mental health support, but we must also see this experience in the context of 12 years of compulsory education or training.
With the right support and recovery for the most vulnerable, parents should know that it really is going to be OK.
This week, we’ve welcomed back over 1000 children and by Tuesday we will have administered nearly 3000 lateral flow tests and the kids have been brilliant. I’d say it took twenty minutes or so for it to feel that they’d never been away. I probably wouldn’t admit it very loudly, but after all the disasters around education in the last year, the roadmap has been pretty clear. We have been given sensible timings and crucially the resources that we have needed. If anyone wants about 5000 masks and boxes of lateral flow tests then I’m your man. Also, I’d say that the exam rationale is probably about as fair as it can be. It goes without saying that I don’t credit Gavin Williamson for any element of the recent levels of competent policy and organisation.
Things aren’t perfect. Teenagers cannot socially distance, goodness knows how they manage at primary. A thousand children walking around in masks is a bit of a challenge (but if a stroppy 15 year old can wear one, I can’t see how anyone else has an excuse, especially if they’ve tested negative about five minutes before), but I didn’t become a teacher to stare at a screen and have constant Teams and Zoom meetings so the last week has been brilliant and I’m sure that for parents it been brilliant too!
I’m not quite sure how it equates to cycling but I would say this. After this week, if I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel then I feel like we are now at least in the tunnel. If this works then hopefully all the experiences we’ve craved and missed will come to pass and we will ride again. I was going to say a beer in Gent next year is my goal but actually a coffee in Win’s garden will do me for now.
Responsible Club Activities
Back to group riding
The committee met last week and we have started making plans for the return to group riding. There is currently some debate over the details of when and how many, but the first weekend we’ll be back in groups looks to be Sunday 4th April. Much more to follow on this and an extensive list of cycling and social activities being planned for later in the year.
If you have let things slide a bit, don’t panic. If you want to do some indoor activity but want some company, there is still plenty on.
In the meantime, there is no reason to be lonely or inactive. There is still plenty to do if you’d prefer to stay inside:
Yoga at Dragonfly
Loving this. Still Mondays and Wednesdays. Look at Katie’s post if you fancy joining in. Check Katie’s post about tickets if you are already signed up.
We are halfway through this set now, but still time to give it a try. The sessions from 6:15pm with Paul are also fully funded by the club. There is no limit to the numbers we can have on these sessions, so register that you’d like to attend on RiderHQ and I’ll be in touch with details.
Zwift Friday meet-ups
Rachel Lynn is developing a strong contingent of regulars on Zwift and will be there again at the earlier time of 6:00 tonight. Look for her post on Facebook to get yourself into the group.
Coffee at Rule #19
Don’t forget to book the steed in for a some springtime TLC. and grab a coffee and cake with Winnie.
Elite/ Penge CC in Spain
2nd to 9th October 2021
Something else to look forward to. A week in Southern Spain enjoying the blissfully warm early autumn between beach and mountains with clean, empty roads, some challenging riding, great company and limitless quantities of Rioja.
Paul Mill and the team at Elite have organised 3 of these holidays for Penge CC before and they are highly recommended. Let me know if you fancy it and I’ll connect you with Paul.
Here’s the link to Paul’s promo video.
Have a great weekend,
James Hanscomb, Chair of Penge Cycle Club.