The ‘crossroads’ of cycling academies: an after-school activity, hand in hand with the school calendar, with licensed children

15 May, 2020

Just like the iceberg from which you can only see a small extension protruding from the waters while a large part of its mass remains submerged, so it happens in cycling. More or less known is the situation of its apex, at the professional level, and you can sense it at the amateur level where the talents of tomorrow are forged in their leap to professionalism. With similar problems, however, little is said about the state of affairs in other categories. And especially in the Cycling Academies. In institutions that coexist and depend on school activity, on their calendar, the various restrictions brought about by the measures put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic have somehow led to a double confinement. And the members of the Plaza Eboli Cycling Academy are no exception.

The one promoted by the Alberto Contador Foundation is one of the 33 cycling academy in the Community of Madrid, according to official data from the regional federation. Between them, there are 648 children between the ages of six and fourteen, divided into the categories of promise, beginner, youngster and child. For all of them, the exceptional circumstances derived from the expansion of the coronavirus have meant the interruption of the classes in a face-to-face way, with the consequent impairment in the fluidity of the teaching activity, and in an automatic and parallel way also the end of the extracurricular sports activities.

Cycling academies goes hand in hand with schools. If one activity stops, the other is condemned to do so. “After the sine die suspension of classes was announced on Wednesday 11 March, we opened the school on that Thursday so that they could collect the material and answer some questions,” recalls Alvaro Garcia, the head of the academy.

With the restrictions on mobility imposed by the State of Alarm decree, beyond the progressive relaxations that are being put in place for the sake of what is announced as ‘the road to a new normality’, the active practice of cycling for young people has also stopped. Cycling is also not an easy activity to keep active for many of the children at school, says Garcia: “Many of the children don’t have a roller at home. In some families that do have fathers or mothers who practice this sport, the children have one. But it doesn’t happen in all homes, logically and as is normal”.

However, the current situation is somewhat strange in that they have a license, but they are still children. “Are they cyclists? Are they children? In this case their condition of children prevails, because they could go out for a ride for an hour; but being federated the truth is that they could go out, as any person attached to a federation, to practice sport in the schedules arranged for it”, explains García. The general trend in terms of respect for the regulations has been to respect them. Abraham del Caño, who is responsible for school academies in the Madrid Federation, goes even further in praising the attitude and behaviour of all regional school cycling: “They are being the most responsible”.

“We are going hand in hand with the schools and until they come back to the activity, we won’t either. From my point of view, until September there will be nothing,” continues García. “From the prism of school careers right now there’s no talk of anything. Is it possible that there will be a career this year? It’s very difficult to say anything about it. It depends on many questions. Right now everything is very much at a standstill. When you can return to the activity it will be necessary to see how you become, in what conditions, what will be the starting point …”, says a Garcia who emphasizes an idea: the races are neither a priority nor an obligation, the priority in these ages is the sports practice itself.

That the regular activities of the School have stopped, however, does not mean that its inner life has ceased. “Contact continues to exist, we talk to the families to see how we are doing, how things are going and what will happen in the coming months. Everyone, children and family members are in perfect health. We have some parents who work in the health world, but everything is going well. Right now the main thing is public health for everyone. What we do do is solve doubts. Fernando, one of the monitors, is an agent of mobility and in this sense he is helping a lot to clarify what can be done”, contributes an Álvaro García who, in his conclusion, launches a reflection: “I am not in favour of restrictions to do sport within a municipal area, because in many cases this implies that you end up confining people to four, five, six streets, you end up concentrating them in some way. And it’s a bit absurd”.

(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)

📸 Atila Madrona