ONE of Britain’s largest celebrations of cycling has kicked off in the Capital – and this year promises to be bigger and better than ever.
Now in its fourth year, the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling will see more than 60 events take place over the next week, from family-friendly workshops to film screenings to “mystery” night-time adventures.
Highlights include an evening with adventurer, writer and filmmaker Dave Cornthwaite, who will share tales from more than ten years of adrenaline-fuelled escapades – including skateboarding across Australia and riding a tandem bicycle from Vancouver to Las Vegas.
Festival director Kim Harding said he expected between 10,000 and 15,000 people to get involved over the course of its ten days.
He said the jamboree offered “something for everyone” – from seasoned pedal pushers to complete novices.
And he argued the growth in cycling presented a lucrative market that Edinburgh would be wise to plug into, with cycle tourism worth around £44 billion across Europe every year.
“What we’re seeing now is we’ve got visitors coming from further afield,” he said.
“We’re seeing more international visitors. We’re trying to raise the profile – we would love to become an international festival.”
Mr Harding, who is also one of the brains behind cycle protest march Pedal on Parliament, helped launch the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling in 2013 after witnessing the genuine enthusiasm for the sport across the city and beyond. Since then the gala has grown bigger every year and now attracts visitors from as far afield as Germany and California.
Among this year’s most anticipated events is the Edinburgh Night Ride, which will see hundreds of cyclists take to the streets under the cover of darkness to conquer 60 moonlit miles.
Starting late on Friday evening, riders will be led on a mystery route through East Lothian at an easy pace, before heading back into town to finish with breakfast.
Organisers promise a “magical experience” suitable for anyone over the age of 16. Tickets cost £25 and include two meals.
Meanwhile, filmmaker and adventure cyclist Jenny Tough will host an event at the Royal Society of Edinburgh tonight to share stories from a life on the edge – including a film about her circumnavigation of the Baltic Sea.
Ms Tough has travelled solo across six continents, paddled through the South American jungle, run marathons on four continents, hiked throughout Asia, trekked in Patagonia and dived with sharks.
Edinburgh Festival of Cycling launched last Thursday with the SEStran Commuter Challenge – which pitched cars, buses, trams, trains and bicycles against each other in a morning race across the Capital – and will run until Sunday.
For the festival’s full programme of events, visit edfoc.org.uk.