South Ayrshire's 'Alps' - Scotland's first road cycling park opens website
Includes mapping, ideas for rides, events and KOM

South Ayrshire has begun work to create Scotland's first ever 'road cycling park' with the launch of a new website designed to promote enjoyment of the area.

The site, www.ayrshirealps.org, has been created with support from the local council, and the aim is to emulate trail riding centres but on the road, with a network of signed hill climbs, complete with maps and riding ideas, supported by organised events.

16 climbs, from the mildly exerting to the fully exhausting, are available within a 15 mile area - which is renowned among local riders for its lack of traffic and beautiful scenery.

It's also a favoured spot for the pros to get in a bit of off-season training; Mark Cavendish and Chris Boardman have been spotted riding there.

Information is available on the site of all the climbs including downloadable GPS files, journey planning details, details on local facilities and the option for cyclists to log on and register each climb they complete to complete for the KOM.

It's also full of invaluable local knowledge, including this gem: "In much of the park area the mobile signal is very poor. Those in the know will insist than you can get two bars when standing by the third pillar under the awning of the McCandlish Hall in Straiton (providing it is not raining) but otherwise it is a bit hit and miss."

Mapping is provided in the form of a ski-style 'piste map' - easy for even the most inexperienced navigator to read and pointing out the most exciting areas to visit.

South Ayrshire Councillor John McDowall said: “The site showcases the fantastic cycling in and around the South Carrick area, with 15 categorised climbs that will inspire people to get out their bikes, settle into their saddles and experience the Ayrshire Alps. Cycling is an environmentally friendly way to travel whether it is for competitive cycling, to improve mental or physical health or to and from work.”

The concept for the park came from Christopher Johnson, a local race organiser. He told us: “I was speaking to partners in the Council about creating a legacy from the cycling events in the South Carrick area when it struck me that there is nowhere else in Scotland that offers the same fantastic road cycling.

"Within a fifteen mile radius we have an amazing selection of testing hill climbs, on quiet roads and in beautiful scenery − far more than even most local cyclists are aware of. It is not unusual for me to cycle 40 miles in the park and come across less than 10 vehicles – that’s one for every four miles travelled.” 

To celebrate the launch of the Ayrshire Alps, the Ayr Roads Cycling Club will host a cycling festival on 17 and 18 August 2013, to include road racing, audax, and a youth race in Girvan.

<p>After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.</p>


robbieC [60 posts] 2 years ago

Great idea BUT, I hope some of the investment goes on special signs aimed at car drivers. French cycle routes do this but UK ones do so only rarely - the safe passing image from rule 163 of the Highway code would be a good start.

I guess locals could be OK about this but bloke with a caravan and tourist drivers could be a significant problem. I live in a rural area and many drivers rip along lanes fast cos they are allowed (national speed limit is 60mph) and chance of getting caught is low. They could experiment with lower limits - 30 mph like on urban roads where there are two lanes and 20mph on narrower roads.

700c [780 posts] 2 years ago

I wish the organisers every success, but 'Ayrshire Alps'?! A bit misleading, perhaps. They aren't remotely alpine!

What next, the 'Highland Himalayas'?  3

miuzikboy [59 posts] 2 years ago

Nice, but the website is borked. Can't sign up for the mailinglist and links to the maps 404.  20

bikerdavecycling [73 posts] 2 years ago

I'm liking this. I fancy somewhere different to ride and want a weekend away and I'd heard this part of the world was good riding, but you never know what are good roads and what are not. Good idea, hope it works for them - and they've a special rain cloud removal machine.  4

JonSP [61 posts] 2 years ago

Interesting idea but I definitely agree with robbiec.

Actually, realistic speed limits on rural roads would be a cheap and effective way to encourage cycling everywhere.

ragtag [191 posts] 2 years ago

Great idea - hope it works and doesn't just die with a reduction in funding at some point. These things are fine to get off the ground but continual improvement and development will keep people coming back.

There has to be more than a website though to make this work. It is still really only a concept. Surprised they haven't gone in with some manufacturers to boost the effort. along the line of something like Giant 365 in Rutland. How about some accomodation and transport partners? Help to line up services to support cyclists and local businesses (plus get them to do some marketing too). No transport information and the link for accomodation sends you to Visit Scotland, which doesn't mention it.

a_to_the_j [117 posts] 2 years ago

anything to promote cycling is welcome, however, this sort of thing has been in France for years and years.
no mention from the council on prioritising pothole fixing or decent tarmac on these routes or traffic calming, traffic awareness, gritting etc.

nothing apart from a website that actually needs money to implement then.
...and of course we'll see if in the years to come the signs are still there and everything maintained.
i do hope this is a council CULTURE change, not just trying to make a quick buck from tourists to visit and spend some cash.

bambergbike [88 posts] 2 years ago

With Robbiec too. All rural roads should have speed limits low enough for locals and tourists to ride or walk on them withoput fearing for their lives, but roads that form part of designated and heavily promoted walking and/or cycling routes should be considered "green roads" and have signs reminding motorists that the road forms part of a cycle route or network.

Was on a road like that in Germany two weeks ago when I was overtaken considerately by a motorist and then came around the next corner to find his car sitting in the road with the engine off. The driver was standing next to the vehicle waiting for a hedgehog to finish crossing the road ...