There is nothing better than getting out on the open road on your bike according to North Berwick teenager Dylan Hughes – and now he is preparing to head to the Bahamas and represent Scotland in his chosen sport.
The sixth Commonwealth Youth Games take place in Nassau from July 18-23 and 41 athletes have been selected to represent Team Scotland at the multi-sport Games.
The athletes, aged between 15 and 18 will compete for Scotland in a number of sports including athletics, beach volleyball, boxing, cycling, judo, swimming and tennis.
And for 17-year-old cyclist Hughes the trip will be the culmination of a lot of hard work – and a lot of miles – on his bike.
“We heard last December that there were going to be places up for grabs at the Commonwealth Youth Games and there would be a few events where would have to show up well to be in with a chance,” he said.
“That really focused the mind and since then I have just been putting in as much hard work as I could to try and make sure that I would be going to the Bahamas.
“When I heard I would be going I was very excited, but I have tried not to think about it too much because then I will get nervous so I have just focused on my training and my school work.
“However, last weekend there was a meeting of all the team and that made it start to feel real.
“To get all of the kit, meet the other athletes and realise that we are representing Scotland on such a big stage is a good feeling and I want to go out there and give my best in the time trial and the road race.”
Hughes lived in Edinburgh in his early years before his family relocated to the north east of England.
It was there he got the cycling bug with Hetton Hawks Cycling Club and started competing, but he also remembers East Lothian having a big part to play in his love of the sport.
“About five years ago I was on my first real road cycle with my dad and my uncle and I was desperate to keep up with them,” he recounts.
“There is a spot in Longniddry that whenever I pass it now I think back to that cycle and how I became hooked. For me cycling gives you the opportunity to see so many different places, you can just get up early and get on your bike and within a few miles or so you can be passing places that you have never seen before and it gives you a real sense of freedom.
“Living in East Lothian now I am so lucky because there are great places to cycle nearby while I have seen quite a bit of Scotland as I am now involved with the Spokes Racing Team who are based in St Andrews and Dundee.”
A couple of years ago Hughes’ family moved to North Berwick and he is just completing S6 at North Berwick High School.
He has been warned about the heat that he will face while racing in the Bahamas next month, but he is just looking forward to the challenge.
Hughes stated: “Every cycling event you go into the conditions are different and you just have to adapt, whether that is in terms of terrain, the weather and such like.
“I see this as a big opportunity for myself and I am determined to head out there and give my all and see where that gets me to.”