Europe’s largest cycle park has opened today near Gravesend, Kent, the occasion marked by the first Sky Ride to take place in the county, giving some 3,000 cyclists the chance to explore the facilities of the 43-hectare Cyclopark.
Those include a six-metre wide, 2.9 kilometre road cycling circuit that could potentially be extended in the future to 5.8 kilometres, a 340-metre BMX track, and 6 kilometres of mountain bike trails.
Bryan Sweetland, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Waste, said: “Cyclopark is a fantastic new attraction for Kent that will attract hundreds of thousands of people – from dedicated cyclists and athletes to families looking for a great day out.
“By careful development of the site we have been able to include a wide range of exciting and state of the art facilities. In addition to the world-class track, mountain bike and BMX cycling facilities, we also have a skate park that was designed and built by well known specialists, a football/basketball pitch area, a children’s adventure playground, and an attractive café providing great refreshments.
“There are few facilities that can compare to this in the country,” he continued. “Opening before this Olympics we expect Cyclopark will draw in thousands of visitors, bringing tourists and their cash, to help regenerate this part of Kent.”
Among the events taking place during a fortnight of celebrations to mark the opening of Cyclopark are the cycling final of The Kent School Games cycling final, the South Region BMX competition, the Gravesend Cyclopark 10K race, and a British Cycling Go-Ride Holiday programme coinciding with school half-term.
“The opening of Cyclopark is a clear demonstration of how Kent County Council, as a community leader working with other visionary partners, including British Cycling, The Colyer Fergusson Trust, central government and the European Union, can provide local residents, the people of Kent and the south east with a truly fantastic facility,” said Cyclopark’s Chief Executive, Laurence Tricker.
He added: “Cyclopark will be one of the best cycling and multi-sports centres in the country.”
Finance for the £8 million facility was raised from a variety of sources including the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, British Cycling, the Homes and Communities Agency and the European Union, as well as Sport England, whose Chair, Richard Lewis, said: “I’m delighted our National Lottery investment has helped deliver a truly iconic facility for the people of Kent. It shows how we are transforming the places where people play sport.
“This year’s Games gives us the opportunity to inspire a generation to create a sporting habit for life and with facilities like this, we will deliver a lasting legacy beyond London 2012.”
British Cycling’s Chief Executive, Ian Drake, added: “We know that state of the art multi-disciplined Traffic Free Cycle Sport Facilities provide the best environments for potential cyclists of all ages and abilities to give the sport a try.
“That’s why there is no better way to mark the launch of Cyclopark than hosting events for all ages and disciplines and giving people at a local, regional and national level the chance to explore this fantastic new facility.
“Cyclopark will benefit hundreds of thousands of people in Kent for years to come and is a key part of a lasting legacy from Britain hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
You can download the Cyclopark brochure here.
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.