IF there was any doubt that cycling fever has taken a firm grip over the nation in the wake of British success in the Tour de France and the Olympics, then it will be banished by next weekend’s events.
The day after a swarm of riders – among them, not least, Sir Chris Hoy – converges on Holyrood Park and surrounding streets for the annual Sky Ride on Saturday, more than 9000 will be making their way here from Glasgow in this year’s freshnlo Pedal for Scotland.
Motivations in the latter vary widely, from those looking to push themselves to the limit to others who just want to promote cycling as a healthy and sustainable way of getting from A to B, or to raise money for charity.
On the saddle will be bikers of all ages, from young families to pedalling pensioners, and just in case anyone finds the going too tough, the inclusion of one team should help everyone feel in safe hands.
The private Spire Murrayfield Hospital line-up will see around 25 medics – including more than a dozen surgeons – saddle up for the 47-mile direct trip from Glasgow to Edinburgh, or the more punishing 110-mile route through the Southern Uplands.
All possible ills and ailments will be catered for, with cycling physicians including plastic surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, consultant anaesthetists, dermatology consultants, ophthalmology consultants, colorectol consultants and urology consultants.
There’s also a level of professionalism amongst them when it comes to two wheels, as they boast mountain marathon runners, ultra marathon runners, triathletes and elite cyclists.
Victoria Brewster, marketing and media executive at the hospital, says: “We have a lot of sports addicts here who are always looking for a new challenge and, more importantly, to compete against each other. We are keen to support the local community and charities whenever possible.
“The team are aged from 22 to 73. They are keen cyclists to varying degrees, but we also have a few who have only just got back on the bike.
“We hope to raise at least a few thousand for good causes.”
A star name taking part is Mark Beaumont, the Capital cyclist who pedalled his way around the world. He says: “I’m really looking forwards to riding Pedal for Scotland. It is the flagship cycling event in Scotland and is such a superb day for all level of cyclists.
“The 110-mile sportive option is great for more competitive cyclists, but most people will still opt for the gentler 47-mile family ride along the canal paths and quiet roads from Glasgow to Edinburgh.”
The event was first run in 1999 with 400 riders, and one man taking part in his tenth Pedal for Scotland is city council leader Andrew Burns. He and fellow councillors Paul Godzik, Cammy Day, Nigel Bagshaw and Chas Booth make up a cross-party but united team.
Refreshments will be served up every ten miles along the 47-mile route, with a free lunch being dished out at Linlithgow Palace. When the cyclists reach Murrayfield Stadium, there will be stalls and food, plus a play zone for youngsters.
Cycling Scotland chief executive Ian Aitken says: “Freshnlo Pedal for Scotland is an amazing day out for anyone who likes a challenge and enjoys good company, great scenery and free food. We’ve got thousands of cyclists participating this year with many in big teams, although with such huge numbers nobody is ever alone along the route, so it’s a very social ride.”
Parts of the city will be a sea of cyclists next Saturday when six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy spearheads this year’s Sky Ride, a 10K circuit touring the Capital’s most iconic landmarks in traffic-free streets.
Councillor Steve Cardownie, festivals and events champion, says: “With the huge success enjoyed by Team GB’s cyclists, I can think of no better time for us to be hosting the Sky Ride in Edinburgh and, of course, I am delighted that our double gold medal hero, Sir Chris Hoy, will be coming home to join in the event.
“The Sky Ride will be a fantastic way for people to see the stunning sights of our city in a whole new way, enjoying a fun free day out with friends and family. I’m sure our residents will join in their thousands to make the event a huge success.”