Bath's new road racing circuit to open on Saturday

Local MP Don Foster to lead the first official ride on the new tarmac... but there's already a leaderboard on Strava

by Dave Atkinson   April 23, 2013  

Odd Down circuit (© Andy Stewart)

Bath's brand new road circuit is due to open on Saturday, with local MP Don Foster cutting the ribbon. The first official ride will include representatives from the three local clubs – Bath CC, Velo Club Walcot and Somer Valley – and pupils from Farmborough, St Philip’s and St Martin’s Garden Primary Schools. They will also be joined by 9-year-old Josh Lake and his sister Ellie, 12, from Threeways School who were nominated by the Wheels for All Project, an inclusive cycling scheme, managed by Bath & North East Somerset Council who have responsibility for running the facility.

After the official first ride at 11am the track will be open for two hours to the public, so that everyone can have a go on the new billiard-smooth tarmac. The track has been made possible thanks to a £600,000 grant from British Cycling and the circuit is the first part of a wider regeneration of the Odd Down playing fields, with an astroturf pitch, new changing facilities and improved football, rugby and cricket pitches all in the pipeline. Saturday's session is in advance of the full opening on Saturday 13 July, when a whole series of events are planned for the circuit.

Councillor David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “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. Anyone is welcome – whether from Bath & North East Somerset Council’s communities or the wider South West region. 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.”

So will Don's ride be the very first? Well, no. The lure of the closed circuit has certainly been strong, and it's not really a surprise that there's already a Strava segment and a leaderboard for the new track, so there's been a bit of fence-hopping ahead of the gates opening. From its conception to its completion the Council and British Cycling were fairly clear that it would be a bookings-only facility, with the track costs set at £40/hr (£200 a day) to local clubs and £10/hr (£50 a day) for schools. Event and corporate hires will pay more. That certainly makes it an attractive facility for the local schools to use for cycle training, and means that everyone will just need to chip in a couple of quid (as has worked well at Castle Combe motor circuit) for a training session; the three local clubs have already block booked and a BC coaching course is already booked in for the end of June to train up more local coaches.

The message about the booking-only nature of the track hasn't necessarily filtered down to the local community, however, with some locals expressing surprise on social networks that they won't be able to use it when it isn't booked. The council explains why sessions have to be booked on its website:

“The circuit is a top quality sports training facility and whilst we want to encourage all abilities to use the facility, it has to be done in a safe and controlled way. There is a concern that an open access facility may result in cyclists wishing to race around the circuit, alongside young children on balance-ability bikes with their parents learning to cycle, and subsequently accidents could occur.”

That concern is warranted, though it's worth noting that the circuit sits directly alongside the Tumps BMX track, also managed by BANES, which is open access and, it could be argued, potentially just as dangerous. The circuit is a new facility and as one of less than 20 such dedicated tracks in the UK – and the only one in the Southern British Cycling Region – demand is sure to be high. The first year of the track is being used by the council, and British Cycling, to gauge demand from the various groups with an interest in using it; after that, booking and access will be reviewed.

www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/sport-leisure-and-parks/health-and-fitness/r...

13 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I was hoping that i'd be able to head to the track for a couple of hours after work to get some decent uninterrupted training time in, but as I'm not a member of any cycling club (or British Cycling currently) I guess that means I'm unable to use it at all?

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [171 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 11:42

7 Likes

JonMack wrote:
I was hoping that i'd be able to head to the track for a couple of hours after work to get some decent uninterrupted training time in, but as I'm not a member of any cycling club (or British Cycling currently) I guess that means I'm unable to use it at all?

One way around this would be to join a few Facebook pages of cycling clubs then just go to their sessions. I'm sure they'd be accepting of contributions to the fees! I'm in Somer Valley CC and no sessions have been decided yet. Just keep an ear to the ground Smile

liam.cahill1's picture

posted by liam.cahill1 [41 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 13:27

4 Likes

I would have thought Tony and Dave would have cut the ribbon? Big Grin

I trust you both will be testing it in your Road.CC kit and reporting back....

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1071 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 13:39

3 Likes

JonMack wrote:
I was hoping that i'd be able to head to the track for a couple of hours after work to get some decent uninterrupted training time in, but as I'm not a member of any cycling club (or British Cycling currently) I guess that means I'm unable to use it at all?

So, let's see. You would like to use the facility, and preferably when it suits? But you are not a member of BC or a club, so do you have any form of insurance? Just musing on that as if the place was open access and any kind of incident happens, then "injuries for money" lawyers get hold of it...see where this is going?
Best bet, get in touch with a local club (3 mentioned in the article) pay a few quid to join them and BC, improve skills as well by group riding, and away you go. Looks like this is a sensible option. I can see why the circuit management want to keep it controlled, and actually have people pay to use it, and a few BC new members would make an investment of £600,000 seem all the more worthwhile.
Go on, you know it makes sense.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 18:19

5 Likes

As mentioned above though, the BMX track is free and open to ride any time, and it cost BNES money to revamp recently too.
Now I've crashed both road and mountain bikes - many, many times - and I wouldn't say that road riding is really more dangerous....

posted by edwardbmason [38 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 19:58

7 Likes

Any cyclists up for flashmobbing the opening event?

posted by thelimopit [119 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 21:49

6 Likes

Iwantone.
Manchester please.



Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1345 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 22:18

7 Likes

The similar track that opened up as part of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is free and there are no problems.

However the track at Bellahouston Park is somewhat problemsome with a mix of dog walkers, rollerbladers, runners, (suicidal) kids on bikes and football training on the grass in the centre making it pretty useless for any sort of training.

posted by euanlindsay [80 posts]
24th April 2013 - 8:28

8 Likes

doc wrote:
JonMack wrote:
I was hoping that i'd be able to head to the track for a couple of hours after work to get some decent uninterrupted training time in, but as I'm not a member of any cycling club (or British Cycling currently) I guess that means I'm unable to use it at all?

So, let's see. You would like to use the facility, and preferably when it suits? But you are not a member of BC or a club, so do you have any form of insurance? Just musing on that as if the place was open access and any kind of incident happens, then "injuries for money" lawyers get hold of it...see where this is going?
Best bet, get in touch with a local club (3 mentioned in the article) pay a few quid to join them and BC, improve skills as well by group riding, and away you go. Looks like this is a sensible option. I can see why the circuit management want to keep it controlled, and actually have people pay to use it, and a few BC new members would make an investment of £600,000 seem all the more worthwhile.
Go on, you know it makes sense.

I see where you're going with the whole insurance thing, and it's completely understandable, I was just under the impression it would be open for public use.

Not sure why you're assuming I dont have any group riding skills because I'm not a member of a club though. Other than this, joining a local club offers literally no benefit to me, I've been cycling around 4 years and in that time have spent many hundreds of hours riding on my own and as much time riding with others. In fact, I've just got back from 5 days in the Algarve covering just under 700km with about 16 other riders, and we had absolutely no accidents what so ever.

I have no interest in riding with a club, I just want a place where I can do threshold training safely, simple as that.

All the gear and no idea!

posted by JonMack [171 posts]
24th April 2013 - 9:06

2 Likes

Stop whining, you can barely get a club booked session at hillingdon or hog hill, get out on a practice session or get out racing, sadly these facilities are not ten a penny

posted by georgee [139 posts]
24th April 2013 - 11:43

6 Likes

Quote:
Just musing on that as if the place was open access and any kind of incident happens, then "injuries for money" lawyers get hold of it...see where this is going?

the bmx track just has a sign that says 'at your own risk', basically. i can't really see why you'd need insurance to ride round a traffic-free circuit.

my feeling is that most people who actually want to train will be more than catered for by the regular training sessions that'll be held on the track by the clubs. it won't be free, but then it won't be very expensive either. you may or may not have to join the club to train at their session – i don't think any of the clubs have said how their sessions will work yet – but if a club membership and a few quid a week is the price of regular, structured training on a dedicated facility then that doesn't seem too onerous to me. YMMV.

the open access question will take longer to resolve but there's surely room for a couple of open, free sessions a week for everyone to just have a pootle round. they'd need volunteer marshals to satisfy the council i expect, but there's plenty of people willing to do that locally. me, for starters. i wouldn't expect that to happen overnight though

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7433 posts]
24th April 2013 - 12:21

5 Likes

I take a stronger line on this than Dave I think it's bang out of order that you need to be a member of BC or a club to use the track - it was very much promoted as being an open facility that the people of Bath and their kids could use (like the BMX track next door) - not just something for clubs and BC to monopolise.

Fine for a proportion of the sessions to be given over to clubs, but a proportion should be for everyone else and on weekdays during the day and in the morning anyone should simply be able to use it for free at their own risk - like they can the BMX track. The argument about safety is frankly bollocks - if the council were that concerned about the mix of people cycling and walking on expensive bits of infrastructure in their locality they'd have marshalls down on the nearby Two Tunnels cycle path which at the weekend already hosts a potentially toxic mix of dog walkers, small children on and off bikes, novice cyclists, roller bladers, and cyclists riding at inapproprite speeds all in a much more confined space than the road circuit.

The council's solution to

"concern that an open access facility may result in cyclists wishing to race around the circuit, alongside young children on balance-ability bikes with their parents learning to cycle, and subsequently accidents could occur”

effectively seems to be telling young children and their parents to sling their hooks, unless they want to get together and book a sesssion. Very inclusive in a town where finding a flat bit to teach your kids to ride is a a struggle - I suppose they can go down to the Two Tunnels of a Sunday afternoon… it's much safer there.

As for the argument that that BC put up the money so they should get to call the shots, well where did British Cycling get the money from… erm not their members I'll bet. If it was BC's money their wouldn't have been a deadline for it to be spent before the end of the financial year. My guess is it came from Sport England or was direct funding from the Government - either way the facility was taxpayer funded - British Cycling's role was simply to decide where the money was spent. Obviously I'm happy to be set straight on this if that wasn't the case.

Locking out all but affiliated club cyclists hardly sits very well either with BC's aim of championing cycling for all. The simple fact is that the vast majority of regular cyclists don't actually belong to a club or want to belong to a club.

I suppose the best thing for us non-club cyclists to do is forget it was ever there cos it's not for the likes of us. Even if we helped pay for it.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4147 posts]
25th April 2013 - 18:37

6 Likes

I'm a bit slow in making comment, only because I wanted to get a reaction from someone who has seen and ridden the track.

The thought occurs that as there is a BMX track right next door with free access, there are going to be two reactions to the two pairs of locked gates; the first will be the accusation that road riders are elitist and that the track is perceived as being 'not for the likes of you!' and the second is that riders will just climb over the surrounding low level fences and ride the track anyway.

It seems BaNES and BC are very keen to highlight this facility, but not for the great unwashed masses to use it!

posted by Grubbythumb [45 posts]
29th April 2013 - 7:30

4 Likes