Mud, sweat and cheers
ICM is proud to help the career of one of motorcycling’s top achievers, Ben Milward, and to show support for his family’s business, ‘In Chains’ motorcycling specialists. An established star of the Motocross racing scene, Ben is now giving something back to the sport by teaching both adults, and local and disadvantaged children how to ride – and how to adopt a healthy attitude towards life.
Against a backdrop of family motorcycling history, Ben has taken part in racing since the age of seven. Now 23, he is keen to pass on his vast knowledge and experience to adults and the younger generation by regularly teaching groups of children how to ride safely and competitively, whilst also offering one-to-one mentoring and coaching to a 13-year-old boy from Northern Ireland, and also a local foster child.
Along with twice-weekly teaching classes and race preparations, around once a month Ben teaches a group of 12–17 year olds from a local school for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.
“I’ve always wanted to teach, it’s the next best thing to racing and adds another string to my bow,” explained Ben. “At college I studied Leisure and Recreation, and then started helping my friend with coaching and it took off from there. And, at the end of the day, I just really enjoy having fun with the kids – I try to make the lessons as enjoyable as possible and we have a really good time.
“Happy people learn more. I teach one technique, then the kids can go off and practise it – and towards the end of the day they’re piecing together everything that they’ve learnt and are almost fully-accomplished riders!”
It’s not only children who benefit from the sport. Adults of any age can also gain a great deal of confidence from motorcycling by learning the different techniques and rules, and Ben often teaches groups of work colleagues on corporate days out – a great team-building experience.
Benefits of the sport
Ben, who is an ACU affiliated coach (Auto Cycle Union – the British governing body of motorcycle sport) and first aid qualified, cites ‘self-discipline, structure, health, fitness and fun’ as being just some of the benefits for children learning to ride.
“Kids often benefit from structure in their lives and these lessons give them something to look forward to and focus on. And because not all children are academically gifted, this offers them the perfect opportunity to excel at something outside of the everyday school curriculum,” he explained.
In order to ride well, a bike needs to be in the best condition possible and this requires the rider to be self-disciplined – after every ride the bike needs to be cleaned and maintained, and before every ride various safety checks have to be completed.
Motorcycling also promotes and encourages a healthy lifestyle in terms of physical and mental health, and attitude. “Riding is a very tiring activity, both physically and mentally. This is why I encourage all my pupils to eat, drink and sleep well in order to be able to keep up with the demands of the sport,” Ben said. “I’ve also noticed that when the kids adopt healthy eating habits they cut down on the amount of additives and preservatives that they consume and this has helped a few to control their energy levels and mood swings.”
This advice is mirrored at a professional level – and helps racers cope with the inevitable ups and downs of the sport. “As well as the highs, there are lots of disappointments that come with racing. If something goes wrong or I make a mistake on a lap, I can only blame myself; I have never blamed my equipment or my bike unless there was a serious mechanical failure. But mistakes spur me on to improve and this can only be a good thing!” he added.
The benefits of motorcycling have been recognised and appreciated for many years. The ACU, of which Ben is a member, is the body that sets the sport’s rules and standards, and was founded over 100 years ago in 1903. The organisation offers an insight into the growth of the sport, from the motorcycle’s use in both the World Wars – during which the ACU trained and provided despatch riders – to the group’s growth in the inter-war and post-war years when motorcycling became known as more of a competitive sport. In fact, it is the post-war period that the ACU attributes with British competitor success and the country’s standing in the sport today.
As well as this long history that is associated with motorcycling and the many benefits to health and wellbeing that it offers, the sport also has a strong focus on the family, who often act as a support mechanism for the rider. It’s not unknown to have many different generations of the same family at each race meeting or event – as Grandad cheers on his grandson, while Dad and sister help maintain the bike before and after the race, with mum taking care of all the details!
This focus on family has been a very prominent part of Ben’s career. ‘In Chains’ motorcycling specialists was set up in 1995 and is now run by Ben’s family, with his parents Nigel and Eileen Milward as the shop’s current owners. It is very much a family business and Ben also works in the store and workshop, offering his expert knowledge and advice to anyone who asks for help. The Milward’s dedication to the sport is evident during the racing season, when the store sometimes has to close a little earlier than usual in order for the family to travel to the various races that Ben is competing in!
|Name : Ben Milward
Age : 23
Lives : Salisbury
Racing involvement : Motocross
Length of career : 16 years
Recent achievements :
- 2007:Although Ben achieved some good positions in the British Championships and DEP Championships, he was unfortunately unable to finish the season due to a knee injury.
- 2006: Came 25th – his best result to date – in the British Championship MX2, and 3rd in the Remedies Bar.
- Appeared on the television series Big Bike, Little Bike, to explain the differences between two types of bikes.
- Holds an ACU Coaching Certificate.
Bikes: In 2008, Ben will be riding a 450 4t stroke for the British Championships and a 250 2t for the DEP Series.
Future plans: Ben hopes to compete in the 2008 British Championship rounds, the DEP series and the British Four-strokes, and will travel to California to compete in its annual ‘Day in the Dirt’ competition.
Ben continued: “Once people become involved in racing, they very rarely leave because as soon as they start, it simply becomes a lifestyle for them.
“There’s no better feeling than being with 40 other riders on the line-up at the start of a course, feeling the adrenaline and the anticipation of the race. My most memorable racing moment has to be back in 2004 when I beat six times World Champion Dave Thorpe and won the race by at least half a lap. Moments like that – or jumping a jump that you didn’t think you could, or beating your arch opponent – make racing brilliant.”
For further information about the various classes that Ben offers both to adults and children, or to find out more about the ‘In Chains’ business and to shop online, take a look at the store’s website at www.inchains.co.uk.
Remember – it’s never too early or too late to learn, anyone from the age of six to 60 can have a go! It takes around one day for beginners to become confident with the bike, and around two to three days to be racing competent.