Olympian opens new facility
Glasgow City council yesterday opened Scotland's first fully developed series of city park mountain bike trails and Olympic gold medalist Chris Hoy was on hand to help celebrate.
Hoy rode part of the inaugural race route on the specially created circuitswith the Haghill Dirt Dawgs school mountain bike club and members of the West of Scotland Special Olympics team. Graded to suit a range of abilities, the three circuits in Pollok Park provide trails suitable for everyone from new and returning cyclists looking to develop control skills or improve their fitness through to experienced mountain bikers out for a blast of adrenaline without having to head into the hills.
Cycling Scotland, Glasgow City Council Land Services and the Scottish Executive were all partners in the development of the trails, which they hope will encourage more developments around Scotland in order to boost cycling confidence and ability. Councillor James Todd commented: "The aim is that people will increase their cycling skills and improve their health. This is also a great opportunity for people to get on their bikes and have fun. And with someone of the calibre of Chris Hoy as a role model, we will hopefully encourage Olympic stars for the future."
Hoy, 28 - who took gold and broke the Olympic record in the men’s 1km time trial to add the title to his world and Commonwealth championships - urged Scottish children yesterday to help the country shake off its "sick man of Europe" tag, saying, "Scotland does have a poor health record and if I can start influencing the next generation into getting active and out on their bikes and eating healthy food, it is a step in the right direction.
"I would be really touched if I could influence someone else to take up sport and become the next Olympic champion.
"I started my cycling career between off-road and BMX and I have real affinity for this kind of facility.
"It is fantastic, especially so close to the city centre but where there is no traffic around. Even if they do not want to go on and compete at any level, they can just enjoy it and it will have health benefits."
Erl Wilkie MBE, Chief Executive of Cycling Scotland offered his endorsement both to Chris and to the circuit.
"I am very pleased to be here today at the opening of the 3 mountain bike circuits in what can only be described as one of the city’s finest treasures Pollok Park. First though I would like to congratulate Chris Hoy in winning a gold medal in the 1km time trial at the Olympics. This is surely the finest example of what is possible if, as Chris did, you start young.
"This facility will help to do several things: first it will give people a chance to experience a sport which is exhilarating exiting and unlike other sports one that can be incorporated by people of mixed ability, as part of a healthy lifestyle. It may also help people to consider using a bicycle for other parts of their lives whether as a further leisure pursuit or even to carry out their daily journey to school or work.
"Second it will be the catalyst for young people to take the first steps along a development pathway towards fulfilling their full potential in sport as clearly demonstrated by Chris.
"Thirdly, by attracting individuals, families and even larger groups to come to Pollok Park to participate in a sporting activity they can also benefit by enjoying the other diverse facilities in this incredible place to the full. Whether this is a countryside experience or cultural and historic. The fact too that this facility has been created in a location served by the Glasgow Cycle Network, National Cycle Network, and has excellent public transport links ensures that it is available to the people of Glasgow with or without access to a car.
Partnerships and planning
"It has taken partnership to create this very fine network between the Scottish Executive, Glasgow City Council – Land Services and Cycling Scotland. This partnership will extend to the organisations that take the lead in providing activities such as Culture and Leisure Services, Education Services through the active school coordinators, ourselves and the Scottish Cyclists’ Union who will coordinate and provide training. For it is only through establishing meaningful partnerships that we are going to break away from the traditional constraints and create a culture of co-operation to help make the necessary changes to the attitudes of the public towards a more sustainable environment.
"In a week where it was claimed that 11 year olds were at risk of heart disease I hope the people of Glasgow will recognise that much is being done to provide the opportunity for health and enjoyable activity in this beautiful and easily accessible location."
For more information see www.cyclingscotland.org/.