A new cycle circuit in Blackpool, built with the help of funding from British Cycling and the soon-to-be-abolished Cycling England, is due to be completed by Easter as the seaside resort looks to underline its credentials as one of England’s Cycling Towns.
Located in the grounds of Palatine Sports Centre and Palatine Sports College, the one-kilometre track will be accompanied by changing facilities, a car park and a 25-metre swimming pool.
The new circuit will become home to the BYCA (Blackpool Youth Cycling Association), which currently meets in Stanley Park, and will provide a safe environment for young riders to develop their skills and start building their experience in the sport of cycling, including providing stock bikes to members who do not have their own bicycles.
Besides aspiring stars of the peloton, it will also host Go-Ride Racing, a British Cycling initiative launched in partnership with Sky that is looking to attract greater numbers of young people to start bike racing, bridging the gap between school and club coaching and regional competition.
It will also provide a home for Wheels for All adaptive bikes sessions aimed at all ages that make cycling accessible to everyone, whether able-bodied or not, and will give more people the opportunity to experience the fun of cycling, with the Palatine track complementing the existing programme at Stanley Park.
Students at Palatine Sports College will also benefit from the facility, and head teacher Chris Powell commented: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Palatine students and indeed for the Community of Blackpool. I am passionate about engaging students in extra-curricular opportunities and this is yet another chance for them to get involved.
“The Palatine Campus is really developing into something special - the Cycle Track complements the other facilities that we already have on the site,” he continued.
“The timing of the Cycling Track is also fantastic, the London Olympics is on the horizon and hopefully we can use this opportunity to make Palatine the hub of Track Cycling in the North West.”
Councillor Tony Williams, Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities said: “The sports centre is an ideal place to put this circuit: it isn’t in anyone’s way, it is safe, secure and gives the users of the circuit access to the facilities already available at Palatine Sports Centre.
“With it we hope to nurture our cycling talent, which the cycle town initiative has identified across the town, as well as continue to encourage more people to take up cycling either as a sport, a leisure activity or as an alternative method of commuting around the town.”
Ian Drake, chief executive of British Cycling, added “The new circuit in Blackpool looks fantastic. It is another example of the numerous efforts we have made, to develop excellent modern cycling facilities across the UK.
"This excellent community facility will provide people of all ages and abilities an opportunity to enjoy cycling in a safe, controlled and traffic free environment from supporting the growth of our sport at the grassroots and helping us develop future cycling stars.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.