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Two Highland projects set to benefit from a share of sportscotland's £8 million Cycling Facilities Fund – £100,000 for a new pump track at Boat of Garten and £40,000 for a mountain bike skills loop at Inverness Royal Academy

By Ian Duncan

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Inverness Royal Academy.
Inverness Royal Academy.

Projects in the Highlands will benefit from funding from Sport Scotland.

They are included in nine community and club cycling projects in Scotland and will receive investment from the £8 million Cycling Facilities Fund.

A new pump track at Boat of Garten will get £100,000 and a mountain bike skills loop at Inverness Royal Academy will benefit from a £40,000 grant.

The Scottish Government and sportscotland have announced the first nine projects to receive investment from a share of £1,554,633.

Sports minister Maree Todd said: "I am delighted to see this investment in community and club cycling projects across Scotland which will hopefully encourage more people to take up cycling for the benefits to their physical, mental and social health. I want us to build on the enthusiasm for cycling this year and see even more people choosing to cycle for recreation and active travel.

“Scotland hosting the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships gives us a great opportunity to use the power of the bike to help meet our transport, health and environmental aims, as well as supporting the events industry through its recovery.

“This funding will support that opportunity by developing accessible community facilities, helping with our ambitions to support participation across all groups, tackle inequalities, and help more people lead active lives.

"As part of Scotland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen thousands of people embrace the benefits of cycling, and I hope that the excitement generated as we build up to this major event will encourage even more people to get active on their bikes”.

With Scotland set to host the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, the ambition is for the Cycling Facilities Fund to provide accessible community and club facilities.

The Boat of Garten project involves the construction of a new pump track which will be suitable for all ages and abilities, from beginners to those progressing in the sport to performance level. The track will be open to the community throughout the year, free of charge, to create more opportunities for participation in sport and physical activity in the local area.

The design of the pump track means it will be fully inclusive and accessible, and Woodland Wheels is hoping to work with Highland Disability Sport to deliver activities for people with a disability or additional support needs.

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “There is a whole new generation of cyclists who have been inspired by the athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Projects like the ones being funded today will give cyclists of all abilities the opportunity to participate and progress in the sport, emulating their heroes, or simply having fun.

“We have been impressed by the ambition and commitment of applicants to the fund and look forward to working with them to make their projects a reality. Delivering this network of accessible, community facilities across Scotland is reliant on partnership working and we are fortunate to have the continued support of a range of partners including the Scottish Government, Scottish Cycling, the National Lottery, and the National Lottery players.”

Nash Masson, from Woodland Wheels, said: “The main aim of Woodland Wheels has been to provide a world class, free to use facility which will engage people with sport and nature side by side. We are very excited to bring a pump track to Boat of Garten, thereby fulfilling a longstanding ambition of the Community.

"Growing up locally with an absence of accessible sports amenities for all, this project has been very close to my heart. It is beyond exciting to see the wheels in motion for a facility that will hopefully inspire the next generation of athletes in Scotland.”

There has been huge interest in the fund, which is open to clubs, education establishments, local authorities or leisure trusts, charitable organisations, community sport hubs and community organisations, demonstrating the real demand for community facilities of this kind.

It has been made possible through a £4 million commitment of Capital funding from the Scottish Government and £4million of National Lottery funding from sportscotland. This significant investment in infrastructure is being delivered through a partnership between Scottish Cycling and sportscotland to ensure projects can have a lasting impact.

Nick Rennie, Chief Executive of Scottish Cycling said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we’re able to unveil the first nine projects that have received support from the Cycling Facilities Fund – these are the first of many as we look to use the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships as a catalyst to get more people on bikes and involved in cycle sport across our cycling communities.

“Clubs are at the heart of everything we do, and they need accessible, fun and safe local facilities to operate from, so this is a welcome boost that will benefit the whole country, and help both current and new cyclists make the most of our wonderful sport.”

The project at Inverness Royal Academy aims to inspire new and existing cyclists to make cycling a sport for life.

It involves the construction of blue, red and orange mountain bike trails, improving accessibility to cycling within a school environment, and will be open to the community for free use throughout the year.

The school aims to support more pupils who face poverty, deprivation, social, emotional, behavioural and developmental difficulties by offering them alternative educational provision through outdoor learning and this project will help them to achieve those aims.

A dedicated facility will enable the school to cater specifically for these groups in a safe, maintained place that they can use as a springboard to other bike disciplines. It also has the potential to develop stronger community links, enable after school sessions without the need to travel, and would be free for those who may not normally be able to afford this type of activity.

Nigel Engstrand, the rector of Inverness Royal Academy, said: “It’s very exciting to receive this funding from sportscotland, helping us realise our ambition of having a purpose-built MTB trail on the school grounds. The Cycle Hub has always been about widening access to cycling, encouraging under-represented groups and spreading the mental, social and emotional benefits of being outdoors and the development of an on-site facility will continue to expand what we can offer.

"The skills loop will develop our volunteers and young workforce too, creating pathways for careers in the outdoor sector. We wish to thank sportscotland and all our other partners for their support and encouragement.

“Our vision for the future is a vibrant facility in the urban environment of Inverness, which is visited by groups and individuals daily. With our young people taking ownership and responsibility for the facility, we hope to inspire them to use it not just during the school day but in the evenings and at weekends, as well as through organised group sessions.

“We are sure our young people will be proud of their trail and loop; will take on the responsibility for it and will develop their technical skills, leadership qualities while enhancing their emotional and social wellbeing.”

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