Cycling: Falcons soaring high on the optimism of youth

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The Edinburgh Falcons cycle speedway team are making strides in their bid to promote the fast-pedalling sport, with the development of the club’s junior riders proving the overriding success of season 2011.

Club chairman, Tommy Lee, however, is also relishing the prospect of making further advances into the local school community in order to boost participation in a sport which sees riders use bicycles without brakes or multiple gears.

Lee said: “Our cycling coach Gavin Kennedy got involved with the Active Schools initiative and started to put the word out on the sport. Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline have actually started a cycle speedway club. We then received contact from Liberton High where a number of pupils came down to our home track at Redbraes Park last week and tried it out. They all seemed to really enjoy the experience so we are delighted with the response. We want to channel this more into the city’s schools and make a case for kids to come and try cycle speedway.”

With a positive vibe attained from the recent session involving Liberton’s students, and Tynecastle High’s “Come and Try It” session in the book for early next year, the club has already had internal discussions with regards to staging an inter-schools competition.

“It would be fantastic if these plans go ahead for next year as I think it would help promote the sport to a greater audience. If we could get regular competition between secondary schools, for example, then that would be great. We want to appeal to as many youngsters as possible.”

With youth a firm priority of the Capital’s alternative speedway team, this season in particular has seen a batch of emerging talent filter into the Falcons B squad. Taking this aspect into consideration, in addition to a welcome return of Polish star Robert Bandosz come spring next year, Lee is quietly confident 2012 will provide an opportunity to better this season’s third-place finish and mount a serious challenge for the UK Northern League title.

“One of the high points from this season has been the performance of our junior riders,” Lee said. “We even had one rider receive his first Scotland cap so that shows the talent we have with our younger riders. I think if we can have our strongest team out next season consistently then I believe we will have a really good chance of winning the league.

“We want to keep the ball rolling with developing our younger guys to a standard where they’ll go out and win races.”

An uncertainty has escalated over the future of Edinburgh Monarchs motorcycling speedway team beyond tomorrow’s final home fixture against Glasgow Tigers. A keen supporter himself, Lee is hopeful the Monarchs can ride in the British Premier League next year as he reveals the Falcons have established a positive rapport with directors at the West Lothian arena.

“A lot of our riders go through to Armadale on a Friday to watch the Monarchs and we’ve had a lot of promotion in their programmes so we have a good working relationship. But you hear these rumours so often you don’t know what to believe.”

With league fixtures now at a close, the Falcons are now anticipating one final hurdle of the season with preparation under way for the national indoor cycle speedway championships in Manchester next month.

Lee added: “The team have started training at the Jack Kane Centre to give them a feel of what it’s like to ride indoors. We’re hopeful of taking a few teams down, with junior and veteran competitions happening, so we are all looking forward to it.”