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Students revved up over initiative

Students around the island have been getting revved up about motorcycle racing thanks to a community outreach initiative launched by the Bermuda Motorcycle Racing Club.

The club has been teaming up with schools to provide sessions for students to explore one of the island's popular motorsports.

It held its first after-school programme at Port Royal Primary School in January, introducing young students to the sport and earlier this month ran a three-day workshop at Whitney Institute with a group of preteen boys as part of their school's Alternative Pathways programme.

Facilitator of the school's Pulse programme, Helen Paynter, reached out to the club in search of an engaging initiative that could deliver hands-on experience to her students.

BMRC committee members and racers C.J. Richardson, Jason Pacheco and Marcus Pimentel visited the school to discuss topics including the sport of motorcycle racing, safety and protective gear, potential career and training opportunities locally and abroad, as well as a full lesson on motorcycle mechanics led by the club's technical team. Students were able to work directly on a functional motorcycle engine including changing the oil, removing the casings and examining the inner components of the engine.

The students were then invited to the club's racetrack at the RUBiS Southside Raceway and were given a lesson on riding fundamentals and technique by one of BMRC's head youth coaches and ex-pro racer, Antoine Richards.

Secretary for BMRC Kristin Divine was present throughout the three-day workshop and described it as “such a fulfilling experience not only for the students but for our club as well”.

She said: “Exposing Bermuda's youth to valuable lessons on bike safety and mechanics while enjoying the rush of this extreme sport is a priceless adventure for our club to explore.

“We were happy to see the boys so engaged. They were eager to volunteer to get their hands dirty and assist with each task. Some brilliant questions were raised and the group were given opportunities to test out their theories on the bikes and engine as a team. We won't be surprised if some of them choose to pursue a career in mechanics after our Friday session — they jumped in, threw on some gloves and accomplished some tasks that many young motorcycle owners have never done to their own bikes before.

“These boys have a head start and will now be a little more prepared to tackle their own motorcycles one day. With most 16-year-olds owning and riding motorcycles locally, offering a safe and welcoming environment to grasp the basics in a fun yet beneficial way is both a positive step for the students and for the sport.”

Ms Paynter's Pulse programme focuses on developing well-rounded people — morally, intellectually, physically and socially through a set of core skills and values including character development, self management and social and co-operative skills.

Ms Paynter said: “To achieve this we were delighted to partner with the Bermuda Motorcycle Racing Club and provide a unique learning opportunity where the students could see the value of what is taught in the classroom with practical application to social and career opportunities. The students were able to discuss the importance of preparation and organisation as well as the value of positive attitude and focus.”

Coleridge Fubler Jr was one of the M3 Whitney students to participate and he encouraged others to get involved. He said: “I enjoyed the whole three-day experience right from the start. As I also raced street bikes at Southside racetrack for a couple of seasons. This experience began with a BMRC instructor coming to Whitney Institute going over basic road safety and track rules.

“The following day we had hands-on learning with changing a spark plug as well as how to change the oil on a street bike, learning that it's best to change oil after two or three race days.

“The last day the class went down to the racetrack to ride the course, set up by the instructor which I enjoyed the most. I really think that more schools should try it because it's a fun family sport.”

Another student Deontae Armstrong, M3, added: “My experience was exciting. I learnt how to change the oil and how the bike runs. I enjoyed riding the bikes and can't wait to go back.”

BMRC aims to expand its reach into the community by providing “a unique sports outlet for youth which is a shift from the typical island sports of football and cricket”. The organisation is currently seeking sponsorship to build on its Youth Riding Clinics and is hoping to import ten new PitsterPro mini motorcycles for the programme.

Ms Divine added: “We hope to make it to all schools. We want to expose as many students as possible to the sport and to the various life skills and early riding exposure that our programme can provide. We also want to show more people that our club is family oriented — it's an amazing opportunity for parents and children to get out and ride together. We have several families who currently do ride together and are able to learn together. We encourage families to get involved with their children.”

The BMRC race season resumes in May. The club is running its Riding Clinics every Saturday for children aged five and over and for all skill levels. The goal is to gain more coaches and motorcycles to offer the sport and training to a wider audience.

For more information on the club, visit www.bmrc.bm.

Whitney Institute students take part in a new educational programme launched by the Bermuda Motorcycle Racing Club. It is hoped the programme can expand into other schools.

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Published February 25, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 25, 2017 at 10:52 am)

Students revved up over initiative

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