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October 10, 2012

If you can’t take Muirhouse to the mountain…

Ever since the Forestry Commission began to appreciate the potential benefits that widening levels of access to the forest estate generate for the general public, facilities for mountain biking in particular have expanded rapidly. But access to these facilities, some of which are rated as being of world class quality, is denied to many who live in urban areas and who have no access to a car. Hats off then to this youth project for bringing the mountain to Muirhouse.


Evening News, 24th September

A NEW mountain bike track being built in Muirhouse will make a “lasting contribution” to the sport in North Edinburgh, supporters have claimed.

The circuit, to be sited at Gypsy Brae recreation ground, was given the green light following a Dragons’ Den-style pitch by community activist Peter Airlie to a panel of investors including representatives from coffee shop chain Starbucks, Edinburgh City Council and other businesses.

In addition to a £2000 investment, the pitch secured support in kind for the new sports facility, including a 50-strong workforce taken from State Street Bank and Scottish Gas 
Networks, who will roll up their sleeves and join a community bid to install the track over two days. 

The council also pledged to donate 40 tonnes of hardcore material which will form the terrain for the family friendly circuit, while the whole plot is being rented for just £1 a year. Organisers intend to construct a more technically advanced course in the future.

It is hoped that the new Cyclone Mountain Bike Track, launched by Muirhouse Youth Development Group (MYDG), will encourage more people to take up physical activity in one of the most socially deprived areas of Edinburgh.

Speaking about his bid for funding, key organiser Peter Airlie said: “I had to walk into a room with about ten people and do a pitch in front of them. 

“I’m quite happy to talk normally but I’d been expecting about two 
people from Starbucks so it was quite nerve-wracking, but everyone seemed to like the project so I didn’t really need to talk them into it.”

Mr Airlie explained that many local youngsters had expressed a desire to try their hand at mountain biking but a lack of facilities prompted him to investigate setting up a community course in 

“We do the cycling proficiency and one of the big things we always get is, ‘Where can we go mountain biking?’” he said. “But that’s Glentress, and it’s an hour-and-a-half away so the idea was to bring a mini-Glentress to the city so they can cycle straight from their door. 

“It’s off-road so it will keep them healthy and out of trouble because the track is in the middle of nowhere where there’s nothing to do. It will give them a chance to go somewhere without being in danger.”

Jonny Kinross, social enterprise manager of MY Adventure – the commercial arm of MYDG – said: “Peter Airlie’s Cyclone Bike Track project is radical and creative and probably the envy of many a politician and strategist, having successfully got together council, community projects and big business at a national and local level to make a lasting contribution to mountain biking and cycling in North Edinburgh. 

“This will raise the profile of the community across Edinburgh and create something the whole city will benefit from.”