Saddle Sore – Reviews, Rides & Rablings – Cycling Blog

Sky Ride Leaders Course – Level 2

If the level 1 course was a soup of people, then in the period until the level 2 course that people soup had been left to boil so most of the sweetness, subtlety and balance evaporated, leaving a finicky, boring, disagreeable reduction with the odd burnt bit that you had to pick out your teeth. Maybe I had a lack of tolerance because there were no biscuits this time or maybe they really were a punctilious pack of pedants.

The venue had changed from The Stacey Centre of the previous course to the more modern Mountbatten Centre on the West side of the island. It was an icy morning (minus 4 so I heard) and the weather for the afternoon looked decidedly unfriendly. I locked my bike to the empty Sheffield stands outside reception with my eclectic collection of 5 cheap locks (I must buy better locks) and made my way up to the room, where I found everyone else’s bikes warm, safe and secure. The course was led by Howard of Sky Ride Leader Training Level 1 fame.

Oliver, the Road Safety Officer for Portsmouth City Council arrived a little late and after his apologies he made the mistake of telling everyone who is was and what he did. Cue the constant barrage of un Sky Ride related queries and complaints about the roads of Portsmouth that Oliver, too his credit, dealt with positively.

A morning of theory was to precede lunch (for which I remembered my Scotch Egg this time) which was to be followed by a recce of a section of a route that we would later ride as a whole.


For the theory we discussed what makes a quality ride and what we’d need to take into consideration when planning a Sky Ride. I should perhaps mention that the level 2 course is solely about the planning of routes for the Sky Rides. Then followed by what tools we have at our disposal to best plan and plot the routes. A lot of thought and time goes into planning these rides so those who actually go on the rides better appreciate it!

At around 11:30 we were put into pairs and asked to plan a section of 1.5 hour ride. It made sense to do a lap of Portsea Island, Andy and I got the section from Bransbury Park to the Watersports Centre off the Eastern Road – probably the easiest part. After a 14.3 mile round trip we got back to the Mountbatten to write-up the route card and polish of the Scotch Egg.

When everyone was ready we embarked on the route as a whole with each pair leading their respective section. By now the unfriendly weather was well and truly upon us and it made for a pretty miserable ride. I was wearing my Swrve trousers which are water and wind resistant – they made a valiant effort but after an hour and a half of tempestuous conditions I was soaked from the waist down. My torso was covered with an Altura jacket and remained mainly dry – I had two damp patches: 1 looked liked I’d been consistently dribbling, the other like my navel had been leaking.


Having completed our route which was as good as it could have been considering the weather we lugged our bikes up to the room for one last time to be greeted by Jo from British Cycling.

While I sat in my soggy pants, Jo passed on some tips on how to use the online Sky route planning tool that Tommy had shown her. I think she must have some sort of crush on this ‘Tommy’ and not a sentence leaves Jo’s lips that doesn’t include that beloved name; “Tommy has a very hard job”, “Tommy will be able to answer that”, “Tommy has such dreamy eyes”.

The final thing was to assign the routes that will hopefully be coming to the Portsmouth public this summer. This assignation was made quite challenging because it seemed necessary to contest the starting points at every given opportunity. Eventually Jo did manage to get the routes allocated so keep an eye out on the Sky Ride site.

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