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About Me

WHAT IS A SKILLS ACTIVE ASSESSOR?

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Janet Stark is not a normal mum, according to her kids, and that’s okay with them.

Most mums are not out loading up the truck in the mornings, and heading off to take lucky mountain bikers around the beautiful trails of Auckland.

Janet qualified as a mountain bike guide and cycle skills instructor through Skills Active, and is the owner of http://www.cyclecoach.co.nz. She also recently became a Skills Active assessor, which means working with keen bike-riders who are completing national qualifications, just as she herself did a couple of years ago.

Asked what’s great about her job, Janet says it’s the looks of delight on people’s faces as they navigate the world on two wheels.

“I just love seeing people gaining confidence on their bikes. But it’s the smiles in particular – I love seeing someone grinning away as they are riding a bike.”

Pedal power has been Janet’s preferred form of transport ever since she was a toddler, and her parents gave her a trike which used to get around everywhere – including off to the park by herself, before anyone had noticed. Later on, when she was busy with kids and life, Janet formed a group called Spokeswomen with some friends, aimed at carving out a bit more time in their schedules to go cycling.

“We met regularly on Fridays. During that time, I found I was quite good at guiding, and getting people on bikes,” Janet says. “So I thought, ‘I wonder if I can get a qualification?’ And that is how I stumbled across Skills Active.”

That was five years ago. As growing numbers of friends and acquaintances asked Janet to take them out for rides, and the word spread, a successful business was born.

On a typical day, after checking the weather report, Janet is off to work. That might mean helping people develop their cycling skills in one-on-one or group coaching sessions, or leading cyclists on expeditions around the trails or in the city. In the afternoon she can often be found cleaning her gear and her bike, and possibly fitting in another coaching session.

Although Janet is thrilled to have earned her cycling qualifications, it wasn’t always easy, due to a shortage of assessors that specialise in the discipline.

“It was a very frustrating process for me, particularly the mountain bike guiding certificate. There are not many mountain bike assessors, and there were even fewer then,” she says.

“My assessor was great but he was running a successful business and he was busy with that. Trying to get time to be assessed was difficult. All I could think was: ‘Why don’t I do this? I’m still growing my business, and I can add this into what I do.’”

Once she completed her qualification, Janet’s assessor advised her to clock up some more experience, and then complete her assessor training. In July this year, Janet completed her registration period and is now assessing her first two trainees.

Assessing adds a whole new level of fulfilment into her work, she says.

“One of my trainees is starting her own business, a very similar one to mine, down in Rotorua. It’s very rewarding, because she is using that knowledge I’m passing on in her own business. It’s not someone doing it just for the hang of it; she’s got a goal in mind.”

Janet wants to see it become easier for bike-lovers to earn their qualifications.

“I’m stubborn, so there was no way I wasn’t going to finish, but it was really frustrating at times. So I want to be part of making it better.”

She says she would never have been able to complete her two qualifications, train as an assessor, and build up her business, without the support of her fellow Spokeswomen, who helped her get the practice she needed, and gave her a sounding board for her ideas.

“And then, for me, it’s been my family – they have been fantastic. They have always given me the time and space I needed, and said to me, ‘You’ve got this mum. You don’t have to be a normal mum – it‘s okay if you go cycling!’”

For more information on cycling qualifications in New Zealand please contact Janet on info@cyclecoach.co.nz

Written by Esther McLaren Communications Advisor for Skills Active NZ for the Assessors Month Newsletter 

MY BIKE BESTIES

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Introducing you to the Spokeswomen

A number of years ago when our kids were little, three of us decided to start riding regularly together on a Friday. From here more women joined and the Women’s PCBC Social Cycling Group was born.  We renamed ourselves the Spokeswomen and become a little more organised with regular rides, outings and weekend trips away.

Find us here http://www.pcbc.co.nz/ladies-rides/

This group very quickly became the highlight of my week (and still is present day).  We laugh, ride, go on adventures, crash, laugh some more, buy new bikes, visit lots of cafe’s, encourage, dream, support and just have SO MUCH FUN.

The group keeps me centered, they are my glue and the reason I started on the journey to become a Cycle Coach. They helped me discovered I was good at guiding, encouraging others to ride –  THEY BELIEVED IN ME.

The best way to enjoy cycling & improve is to find that group that gets you.  You will find that you will ride more and go on more adventures than you ever thought possible.

What group do you belong to?  

Haven’t found one yet – find one as it is totally worth it.

SO WHAT BIKES DO I RIDE??

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Giant Brava
I am not really a roadie kind of girl and just couldn’t quite bring myself to purchasing a road bike. Instead for Christmas 2013 a Cyclocross bike sat under the tree. She loved the West Coast Wilderness Trail and has been in many CX races around the North Island.

She is one very shiny pretty bike, comfortable to ride on the road and gravel.  I have even taken her on a few easy mountain bike trails.  Now, she mainly sits on my Wahoo Kickr for 2 x weekly training sessions.

Would I buy a road bike now?  Probably only because they go faster on the road.

Giant Obsess Advance – Harriet
At the time (2014) I was training for the Whaka50 and my Avanti Montari had seen better days. I tried out the Obsess and knew this was the one.  Since then we have been on many adventures together. The longest day rides have been on the Waikato Rivers Trail and in the Whakarewarewa Forest.

Harriet now spends more time on gravel and tarmac exploring the city and off-road options. She is often with me on Cycle Skills Sessions and on the Explore by Bike Guided Group Rides I offer. She has changed colour since I purchased her due to a crack in the frame, which Giant replaced thankful.

Giant Pique Advance
She’s pretty and I love her to bits. Buying the Pique at the end of 2016 was a bit of an impromptu decision. I had been looking at new bikes for a while and had even been along to some demo bike days, but had put the thought of purchasing a new bike aside.

After a bit of bad family news, I went out and rode my Obsess to think and decided on the spot it was time. Rang Pete at Planet Bikes and she was mine. She was totally built for trails like the Heaphy Track and Timber Trails. Say hi next time you see us on the trails. She will be with me for all mountain bike coaching and Bike the Trails Group Rides plus the Women’s Cycling Retreats.

So, what should I buy next…….
Road bike
Touring bike
Full Sus with more travel
All these options are so tempting……..