CYCLISTS saddled-up to celebrate the opening of Scotland’s first inner-city bike park in the Capital.
Volunteers and funders witnessed the unveiling of the £200,000 Skelf Bike Park at Crags Sports Centre.
Five years in the making, the track is the culmination of a mass community effort by more than 100 helpers.
“We’ve had people digging, cutting down trees and moving rocks,” said Skelf committee member Craig Turner, 35.
“It’s great to see so many on the track. One of the things about mountain biking is it’s very difficult in the city – this is giving kids something to do.”
Excavation work to prepare the track site had unexpected benefits – revealing long forgotten Hercules Street and the site of Scotland’s first deaf school.
“We plan to keep this neighbourhood spirit alive to build a community garden and growing project – to make it a woodland retreat for everyone,” said Craig.
Former UK mountain bike champion Lee Craigie took an inaugural spin around the 900m track, designed to top competition standards.
“We’re hoping to rent bikes to people who don’t have them because the track is for beginners as well as people with more skills,” said Craig.
Funders behind the scheme included the Commonwealth Games 2014 legacy fund, the Scottish Government and city council.
Minister for Sport and Public Health Aileen Campbell said: “Events such as the Olympics and Commonwealth Games have taken biking in its different forms to a whole new audience which is great as we look to get people involved in physical activity.
“We’ve provided funding for the Skelf Bike Park because that’s exactly what the project will do. I hope people across Edinburgh, regardless of their experience, will come to this park and get involved.”
Live music and food stalls marked the grand opening yesterday, while a heritage trail app research by schools was also launched.
The committee also have plans to landscape the site and install bird and bat boxes in a bid to create a nature haven.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s sport leader, said: “The council is delighted to support this unique new facility.
“Edinburgh has a fantastic cycle network but we also need facilities which offer a safe, fun place for young people to develop their biking abilities. The Skelf Bike Park will provide this and, importantly, will be free to use.
Councillor Lewis said “an exciting time for cycling in Edinburgh” will see a new velodrome and off-road track at Hunters Hall park and the return of the Tour of Britain in September.
Tory leader and ward member Cameron Rose said of yesterday’s event: “It was impressive to see so many people, young and old, at the opening launch. It’s got a lot of potential to be well used.”