A BMX champion has been inspiring children, students and staff in Hartford and Castle to get out on their bikes once spring is here.
Lee Musselwhite, a UK champion twice over, has been performing impressive tricks to gasps from pupils as he tours schools and colleges in the area as part of a council bid to encourage cycling and cut congestion.
The Guardian caught up with Lee and his colleague Tom Hooper, from Inspire Promotions, as they showed off spinning and balancing stunts to children at Charles Darwin Primary School, in Castle.
Lee said: “There’s a couple of reasons why getting on your bike is good.
“It keeps you healthy, fit and active and also, if it’s possible to ride your bike to school – if you live close enough and maybe with your parents – you’re doing your bit for the environment, otherwise you have to get a lift and cars put pollution into the atmosphere.“Another reason is that it’s just fun.”
The duo emphasised that safety must come first,and explained the importance of roadworthy bikes, with working front and rear brakes, and wearing a helmet.
Sarah Diamond, from Sustrans, is working with Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) and organised the BMX demonstrations.
She said: “I’m dedicated to working with primary and secondary schools to encourage levels of cycling and walking.
“The council received funding from Access to Education for this area because the congestion is so bad.
“We’re encouraging people out of their cars because it reduces congestion, it’s good for them and the environment and it’s fun.
“Studies show that children perform better in school if they’ve made an active journey.
“It’s very early days, I’ve literally just started the project in Hartford and these are my first events here – but the kids absolutely love it.”
Lee’s BMX tips:
• Safety first. Lee said: “Make sure you’re safe and in an area away from cars and pedestrians.”
• If at first you don’t succeed... Lee said: “It really is a case of practice makes perfect, that’s such an important message.
“Don’t give up at the first hurdle.
“If you’re finding it difficult it doesn’t mean you’re not learning – even as you fall off you’re learning balance.
“Stick with it, believe you can do it and you’ll get it eventually.”
• Know your limitations. Lee said: “Don’t try to be too ambitious – build up slowly.”