Scotland's first ever National Cycling Conference kicks off today with backing from Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont.
Mountain biking has seen a massive rise in popularity in recent years, with Scotland now recognised as one of the best destinations in the world for mountain biking. Currently, the tourism market benefits by £119 million a year, with a potential for a further £36 million a year identified increasing the market share to £155 million per year.
Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont, explained how his local cycling roots in Perthshire lead to the desire to cycle around the world – a journey which was watched by millions and captured in a BBC documentary.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Mark Beaumont said: "The first step in cycling around the world was from the farm where I grew up in the foothills of Glenshee. Around the forestry tracks and Perthshire roads, it was a great start and training ground. Everyone has to start somewhere and people will be amazed at how many good routes are available right at their doorstep. Where there are none, that’s where we need to start to develop, focus, and grow this activity, which also has massive offshoot benefits for Scotland. I’m inspired that a national framework has been developed to do this and look forward to grass roots development sowing the seeds of worldwide success.”
The conference, which has delegates from as far afield as Canada, is organised by the Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland project. The project, which has partners from the worlds of cycling, events, enterprise, tourism and the environment, sits within the governing body for cycle sport in Scotland, Scottish Cycling.
Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland project manager, Graeme McLean said: “Mountain biking in Scotland is a massive success story and it can only be improved by highlighting the routes close to where people live. To do this, we plan to involve local people and community groups and set up regional development clusters. These clusters will enable local people to identify sustainable routes in their area and promote mountain biking to a wider audience. Grass roots are the frame on which development is built.”
The Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland project will be setting up development clusters around Scotland and will hold free consultation evenings in each of the regions to engage further with local people. Anyone interested learning more and getting involved in the project should visit the website www.developingmountainbikinginscotland.com