Kyle Academy - Gets in the saddle!

Kyle Academy in Ayr launched three new exciting free mountain bike trails and pump track in the school grounds.

The mountain bike trails provide different challenges to encourage novices and to keep more advanced cyclists motivated. The pump track is an undulating manmade landscaped area which gives cyclists the chance to cycle off-road in a challenging way in safety

The new cycling facilities were funded by the Climate challenge Fund, which is administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful, following a successful bid for £45,000 made by students from Kyle Academy's Eco Council and Bike Club.

The Kyle cycling facilities have been built on the hill behind the school in a wooded area, so that it is not within view for local residents as there has been extensive planting of the woodland as part of the project with a total of 24 mature Scots Pines were planted to conceal the track. In addition 563 saplings, 480 of which were provided by the Princess Anne's Jubilee Woodland Trust, have been planted in the area including Rowan, Alder, Birch, Willow, Beech and Cherry, the species that are already present. The mixed woodland will reduce the school's carbon emission and support wildlife.

A very special cyclist, Graeme Obree, was at the official opening of the trails and pump track. Known affectionately as The Flying Scotsman, Graeme is a Scottish cycling hero, who has set many world records and was inducted in to the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. His life and cycling achievements were made into a film, aptly named The Flying Scotsman.

After seeing the mountain bike trails and the pump track Graeme Obree said: "This is what cycling is all about getting people out and about in the fresh air having fun.

"I was pleased to see that there are different routes, something to suit novices and very experienced cyclists. The students all appeared to be having great fun and I am sure that members of the local community will too.

"Kyle Academy is truly a centre for cycling excellence and a great example of what can be achieved by young cyclists."

Councillor Margaret Toner, Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder said: "Many young people from Kyle Academy enjoy cycling and they wanted to provide fun cycling facilities to encourage their peers and others to take up the activity.

"This community based project, adjacent to the banks of the River Ayr, will promote cycling in a safe, beautiful and challenging environment for individuals, families and friends to enjoy. Each trail is clearly signposted so that cyclists can plan their route to suit whatever their cycling ability.

"Pupils and staff now have great incentive to cycle to and from school, which will cut down congestion around the local community, reduce carbon emissions and is a great way of improving mental and physical health. The mountain bike trails and pump track will add another dimension to their cycling challenge."

David Gunn of the independent charity, Keep Scotland Beautiful, who administer the Climate Challenge Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: "We are pleased to support this worthwhile project and look forward to monitoring its progress. £10.3 million of CCF funding is available each year until March 2015 for a variety of schemes aimed at reducing local carbon footprint, from projects to encourage people away from their cars like this one, to the installation of energy efficient measures in community owned buildings, local energy efficiency advice projects and community growing spaces."

Here is what some of the students who have tried out the mountain bike trails and pump track think:

  • Robert Cooke S3 said: "To ride the cycle trails is really exciting because there are lots of bumps and jumps."
  • Kenneth Burns S3 said: "It's addictive! You just want to keep doing it again and again."
  • Callum Steinlett S3 said: "Awesome! Makes the community grounds brilliant!."
  • Fergus Smith S3 said: "It's kind of scary at first but it's really good fun."
  • Jamie Watson S1 said: "It's amazing, it really encourages you to try cycling in a safe place."
  • Owen Gibbons S3 said: "It's a rush like no other!"
  • Sam Kerr S1 said: "There is choice between the pump track and the trails, it's a huge outdoor gym!" 
  • Ronan McCallum S1 said: "Being on the trails and cycling downhill makes me feel free!"

Kyle Academy actively promotes sustainable modes of transport which include walking to school and has built cycling into the physical education curriculum. Kyle Academy is a recognised Cycling Friendly School, they have embedded opportunities for cycling to be included in the curriculum and have established a loan bike system for pupils to borrow bikes. Families can also borrow bikes from the school to use at weekends and school holidays.

Students from the school Bike Club are working with the Council's Community Safety Officers, Active Schools team, Strathclyde Police and Ayr Burners Cycling Club to develop a comprehensive programme of cycling activities and workshops over the Easter holidays and in the summer term.

View a headcam of the cycle trail at Kyle Academy.