Scottish Commonwealth mountain biker Rab Wardell and champion cross country rider Rob Friel got off to a flying start when they launched the only mountain bike track of its kind at UK’s largest windfarm.
The bespoke site at Whitelee Windfarm was designed by the experts who created the Beijing Olympics mountain bike course and the trail for the upcoming Glasgow Commonwealth games.
The new trails were created in response to strong public demand for improved mountain biking facilities in the area.
Set within a former borrow pit created during the construction of Whitelee Windfarm there are trails suitable for all levels of rider. For the less experienced a pump track and skills loop will promote skill development. There are 3.5km of intermediate blue-graded tails and a number of red-graded trails with more technical riding options and the opportunity to ride over boulder gardens, long beams and drop-off features.
There is also a picnic area and a viewing area with wet weather shelters.
The creation of this type of facility is part of the national strategy to grow mountain biking in Scotland. The project which cost £194k was led by East Renfrewshire Council on behalf of Whitelee Access Project partners along with South Lanarkshire Council and East Ayrshire Council. Additional grant funding came from the East Renfrewshire LEADER 2009-2012 programme. Close co-operation with windfarm operators Scottish Power Renewables has enabled this innovative project to be developed in the unique setting.
At the launch Rab, who competed in the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and Rob were joined on the site by students from Kilmarnock Academy, and the expert riders gave the youngsters a tutorial in riding the trail.
The track is free to use and open all year.
Multiple Scottish medalist Rab Wardell said: “The mountain bike tracks are a fantastic addition to the ever-growing mountain bike facilities in Scotland. The location of the trails means that they are accessible for a high percentage of the Scottish population. The design and build of the trails offers a great opportunity for newcomers to learn with progressions as they improve. It's a brilliant facility.”
Champion cross country rider Rob Friel said: “These trails are a great new facility in a unique and inspiring location. They offer children and those new to mountain bikes a great fun and manageable course just a few miles drive south of Glasgow. For the experienced rider these grippy trails will be ridden faster and faster, plus there is a pump track and a skills area to refine your technique. If you are keen it's only a few miles pedal on quiet lanes from Glasgow or Kilmarnock. Personally I'll be riding between Whitelees and the Commonwealth Games track to get a great training ride in from the city.”
Councillor Vincent Waters, environment convener said: “Mountain biking is one of Scotland’s fastest growing sports but until now most trails have been in remote parts of Scotland. There was a strong public demand for more accessible facilities and we wanted to make mountain biking a sport for all by creating a track on our doorstep. This site is just 10 miles south of Glasgow and easily reached from Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and surrounding areas. The new track will add to the network of roads across the 215 turbine Whitelee Windfarm already popular with cyclists.”
The trail is located just 500m from Whitelee Visitor Centre. The trail is located just 500m from ScottishPower Renewables Whitelee Visitor Centre, which incorporates a comfortable Café, available to all visitors, including those using the mountain biking facilities.
Note to editors:
Mountain biking is one of Scotland’s fastest growing sports and a 30% growth is predicted over the next five years *source Tourism Intelligence Scotland.