Nostalgia: Fast track to free-wheeling fun

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LATER this month, North Berwick will play host to the latest craze in cycling – “fat biking”.

Originally designed for the harsh, frozen wilds of Alaska, the so-called fat bikes can be pedalled through rough terrain and snow.

Bruce Biddle and Ray Bilney race towards the finish in the 1970 Commonwealth Games road race

Bruce Biddle and Ray Bilney race towards the finish in the 1970 Commonwealth Games road race

The bikes are well-suited to East Lothian’s sandy coastline and look set to become the latest in a long line of permanent fixtures on the Lothians’ 
cycling scene.

The region has hosted various biking events over the years, with both professionals and amateurs taking part.

The 1970 Commonwealth Games, which were hosted in Edinburgh, provided a number of opportunities for fans of the sport to get 
involved.

Crowds lined the streets in July that year to watch New Zealander Bruce Biddle and Australian Ray Bilney race towards the chequered flag at the finish of the 102-mile road race held as part of the Games. Biddle, then 21, pipped his opponent at the post by a matter of inches.

Canadian cyclist Jocelyn Lovell entertained the Royal family and spectators at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games that year by doing a circuit of the track at Meadowbank Stadium on a child’s bike with stabilisers.

Meadowbank Stadium also welcomed its newly reopened velodrome track back in May 1981.

A voluntary workforce of young cyclists, including 21-year-old Edinburgh University student Susan Downes, helped to repair the track 
surface.

Even Prince Charles has been involved – in a small part – in the Lothians’ cycling scene. Visiting Craigroyston Community High School in March 1983, he was helped by members of the Pilton Circus troupe to practice his unicycle skills.