Well we're having a happy new year, with the news that work has begun on a brand new 1.5km tarmac cycling circuit in Bath. The circuit, which has been made possible thanks to a £600k investment from British Cycling, will be located at Odd Down on the south side of Bath and is expected to be open by the middle of the year. Andy Stewart (Bath CC) and Jon Arnold (Velo Club Walcot) took part in a bit of ceremonial turf cutting on Wednedsay to get things underway.
The track is part of a larger redevelopment of the Odd Down site, which for many years has been a much-neglected football and rugby venue with its facilities in disprepair. However, the building of a new superstore on land that was partly an unused school playing field has released over £1m of S106 money to redevelop the facilities, backed up by a considerable chunk of money from Bath & North East Somerset council. A new pavillion and full-size astroturf pitch are planned as well as a redevelopment of the grass pitches. There's already a long-established, competition standard BMX track just behind where the circuit will be, and the long term plan is to also include a pump track and a short MTB circuit in the woods behind the playing field. Then we'll just need a velodrome, and we're done...
The circuit is the first of the new facilities to take shape at the site, thanks in no small part to Brian Johnston at British Cycling who's worked closely with local cycling clubs and the council to shape the plans. Dave Cockram, National Facilities Officer for British Cycling, said: "We have been running a national programme to construct safe, off-highway cycling facilities for the last ten years, and the opportunity to build a closed road circuit in Bath was one we welcomed. The city and the wider region have always had a strong cycling tradition, and the new circuit will allow British Cycling and Bath & North East Somerset Council to work together to further build on the extraordinary expansion in all types of cycling participation following the Tour de France and Olympic Games in 2012."
The circuit will be 1.5km in length, and designed so that it can be split into three sections for teaching younger riders and multiple groups. It will be lit with low-level lighting so that it's possible to use the track for training through the winter; racing will be daylight-only though. The local clubs, who've already achieved some success in the last two years with a series of crit races in Victoria Park, are co-operating to draw up a programme of racing. There's scope for all sorts of activity; duathlons have been proposed and the site already has a long history as a cyclocross venue, although in recent years the races have been fewer. The local culbs are also working with British Cycling to train up a number of coaches to train younger riders, and there'll be a youth cycling club, either as a separate entity or as part of one of the existing clubs. There are plans to make the circuit a centre for disability cycling too, with grants being sought to buy and adapt a range of bikes for disabled riders.
Councillor David Dixon, the council cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "This is a great way to start 2013 and we're very excited about getting this project underway. The new site will be for everybody, from children and families to the more competitive cyclist, and we hope it will become a centre of excellence for disability cycling. We're extremely grateful to British Cycling for their generous support and we're pleased to be working with local people so they can get actively involved in the delivery of improvements in their community."
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.