Game plan for Glasgow
Game plan for Glasgow
This year is the ideal time to visit Glasgow. The Commonwealth Games are coming, bringing high-profile cycling events to the city in July and August. There will be track racing at the new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome, mountain bike racing on the new trails at Cathkin Braes, and time trials on the roads to the north and east. Glasgow city centre will then be the backdrop for the road race, just as it was for the 2013 National Road Race Championships, when over 30,000 spectators watched Lizzie Armitstead and Mark Cavendish clinch the coveted striped jerseys.
You’ll be able to visit – and ride – the new Cathkin Braes singletrack and the wooden boards of the velodrome."
It should be a fantastic spectacle. And you can get a preview if you’re coming to Cycling UK’s AGM in Glasgow on 10 May (see pages 12 and 16). Among the guided rides the day after the AGM, there will be some with a distinct Commonwealth Games flavour. You’ll be able to visit – and ride on – the wooden boards of the velodrome and the purpose-built mountain bike singletrack. You’ll even be able to ride the route of the road race through the city. So bring your bike or hire one when you get here.
Glasgow’s changing face
The sporting spotlight isn’t the only reason to visit Glasgow. The city has made great strides in boosting everyday cycling. Since 2007, when the Commonwealth Games bid was won, there has been solid growth in the numbers of people cycling: a 127% increase overall, averaging 20% growth per year.
Glasgow now has a Strategic Plan for Cycling, with its own ‘cycling tsar’ on the city council. Glasgow City Council endorsed the Scottish Government’s targets of ‘10% of journeys by bike by 2020’, and there is now a Glasgow cycle forum, which engages closely with Cycling UK, GoBike campaigners, Sustrans, and other cycling interest groups.
You can get a sense Glasgow’s efforts for everyday cycling on the back of the Commonwealth Games developments in the council’s YouTube film ‘A Cycling Legacy’: tinyurl.com/pgl3kwn
Aside from cycling, Glasgow is well worth visiting as a tourist destination in its own right. Glasgow was a Georgian mercantile hub and then became the second city of the Empire in the Victorian Age, making ships and trains for the whole world. The city’s hard image in the 20th century changed with the Garden Festival in 1988, a softening that was affirmed when it inherited the mantle of European City of Culture in 1990. Nowadays Glasgow is a city of art, with six Turner prize winners and nine nominees. It’s also a UNESCO ‘City of Music’ – one of only five worldwide. According to TripAdvisor reviews, it’s the best place to shop outside London’s West End, and the third most highly rated UK destination.
Welcome to Glasgow
The local CTC Glasgow Member Group will be leading a selection of rides on the Sunday morning after the AGM. Hire bikes can be arranged. There will be traditional touring rides out to the north and south of the city, into glorious Scottish countryside. A shorter trip will head along the banks of the Clyde to visit the Transport Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid, which was named 2013 European Museum of the Year, then on to the family-friendly and popular baroque Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. For AGM visitors staying longer, there will be a week-long tour of the Outer Hebrides on offer, starting on Monday 12 May.
There will be several Games-themed cycling opportunities on the Sunday. You could try out the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome on a track-cycling taster session. Or you could visit the Cathkin Braes mountain bike trails, which are only 20 minutes away by bike. The trails have a range of differently-graded features, allowing beginners to have a go or challenging experienced riders. Help is being arranged for those wanting to ride here.
The road race course was designed partly to show off the city to a worldwide television audience."
A guided ride will trace the road race route through the city. The course was designed partly to show off the city to a worldwide television audience. This makes following it ideal for a close-quarters tour of the city’s sites of interests. The roads will be open to traffic on 11 May, which does mean some annoying traffic lights and one-way streets. But most of it will still be ridable and will give a flavour of what the elite athletes face. Our ride will be taken at a more leisurely pace, of course!
It’s not a race (this time)
The guided rides will begin at 10:00am outside the Radisson Blu hotel, the venue for the Cycling UK AGM and Annual Dinner. It is about a mile east along the Clyde to get to the road race’s start point on Glasgow Green, near the People’s Palace and Winter Garden. Cycling is allowed around Glasgow Green and through Kelvingrove Park, as it is in all the 90 parks in Glasgow. (Some recent proposals to tighten the regulations are being resisted.)
Another Scottish freedom comes from our access legislation. That required ‘core path’ networks to be set up, mainly to specify ‘desire lines’ for getting around on foot, bike, horse or non-motor boats. In Glasgow, that means we now have a statutory right to go against the flow of the one-way section of Argyle Street and up the iconic pedestrianised Buchanan shopping street, because they are both designated core paths. Cycling among pedestrians is slow at busy times and needs extra care, but the system works well.
Glasgow does have some hilly bits and the race course hunts these out. We should be all right as we will be doing them only once at a touring pace, rather than racing around the 14km (8.7mile) circuit. The men will do 12 laps of this, covering 167km (104 miles), while the women will do seven (98km or 61 miles).
Elite racing cyclists no doubt see a short steep bit as an attacking opportunity and won’t have much time for or concern with the delights of the city flashing by. We, on the other hand, can take our time to enjoy the city, its history and what it has to offer now.
The idea of the ride is to combine what both the City of Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games Road Race have to offer. If either or both of these stir an interest and appreciation, why not come back again in the summer, along with the rest of the world, to enjoy the full show?
This was first published in the April / May 2014 edition of Cycling UK's Cycle magazine.
Watching the games
For full details on the all of the Commonwealth Games events, visit glasgow2014.com. The cycling events run from 24 July to 3 August. Track cycling is on from Thursday 24 July-Sunday 27 July, with tickets (if still available) £90. The MTB Cross Country races are on Tuesday 29 July; tickets are (if still available) £15. The Individual Time Trials and Road Races are free events that you can watch from the roadside, on Thursday 31 July and Sunday 3 August respectively.
Cycling UK AGM rides
Cycling UK’s AGM is on Saturday 10 May at Radisson Blu hotel, 301 Argyle Street, Glasgow G2 8DL, 0141 204 3333, www.radissonblu.co.uk/Glasgow.
CTC Glasgow will host a selection of rides and Commonwealth Games try-outs. Contact secretary John Foster (01555 759102, email@example.com) for a printed rides programme, or visit www.ctcglasgow.org.uk.
All rides are on Sunday 11 May, following the Cycling UK AGM, except the tour of the Outer Hebrides which starts on Monday 12 May.
Assemble at 10:00 outside the Radisson Blu hotel (address above).
As well as the Radisson Blu hotel (see above), there is lots of other accommodation. See www.visitscotland.com/glasgow-clyde-valley for options. If you want budget accommodation, there are a couple of hostels: SYHA, 7/8 Park Terrace, Glasgow, 0141 332 3004, firstname.lastname@example.org; euro hostel, 318 Clyde Street, G1 4NR, 0845 539 9956, email@example.com
Almost everywhere as part of the Glasgow cosmopolitan city culture.
South West Community Cycles, Pollokshaws, West Railway Station, 2092 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow, G43 1AT, 07711 36 55 36, www.southwestcommunitycycles.co.uk/hire/
Billy Bilsland Cycles, 176 Saltmarket, Glasgow, G1 5LA, 0141 552 0841, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gear Bikes, 19 Gibson St, G12 8NU, 0141 339 1179, email@example.com Tiso Glasgow Outdoor Experience, 50 Couper Street, G4 0DL, 0141 559 5466, firstname.lastname@example.org. Cyclonauts, 111 West George St, Glasgow, G2 1QX, 07982 193997.