On the evening of 12th June author Carlton Reid will be giving the first talk at the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling. Earlier in the day there will led rides and the first qualifying rounds for the “How fast can you fold a Brompton” competition. Reid will be talking about his forthcoming cycling-and-motoring history book and explaining why motorists ought to be thanking cyclists, not running them off the roads! The cyclists of the 1880s and 1890s were instrumental in getting roads improved, the first cars were built around cycle technology, and the first motorists were mostly cyclists, too.
This year’s festival – which part of Bike Week – sees the UK’s first Women’s Cycle Forum, as a part of the Women on Wheels day on 14th June. The organisers of this event got tired of the old hand-wringing debate about “why don’t women cycle?” – usually conducted by male cyclists with reference to their non-cycling partners, so they decided to hold a panel debate and networking event with an all-women panel. (Men are nevertheless welcome to join the event and the debate).
Also as part of the Women on Wheels day, there will be a Bike Curious Family Workshop for families who would like to get cycling with their children but don’t know where to start, or who want to move from a baby-seat to a trailer or tagalong. A workshop at Sciennes Primary School will help them get pedalling with children on board.
There will be a dramatic reading of the play “Marco Pantani- The Pirate”. Stuart Hepburn will lead attendees on a journey through the darker side of professional cycling, as he tells the story of one of the greatest Italian riders who was tragically found dead and drug-ridden, in a lonely hotel room at the early age of 34.
The Festival also features the Scottish première of “Half the Road”, a documentary film that explores the world of women’s professional cycling. It focuses on both the love of the sport and the pressing issues of inequality. With footage from some of the world’s best UCI races and interviews with Olympians, World Champions, beginners, coaches, managers, officials, doctors and family members, the film promises to offer a unique insight into the drive, dedication, and passion it takes for a female cyclist to thrive.
Naturally, there will also be lots of rides at the festival, including hill climbs, with opportunities to tride on Arthur’s Seat and Corstorphine Hill. There is also the opportunity for follow in the tyre-marks of Sir Chris Hoy at the Meadowbank velodrome, where Sir Chris started his career. Off road, you can Trial the Trails at Gypsy Brae Mountain Bike Tracks, or for the under 18s, compete in the first Edinburgh Schools Mountain Bike Competition at Liberton High School. There are also a wide range of rides at a more leisurely pace.
The Original Edinburgh Night Ride is also back after last year’s successful first staging of the event. The 2013 ride was described as a “magical experience.” The ride starts at 11pm on 20th June and is a scenic journey through East Lothian, passing through Dunbar and ending back in Leith for breakfast. The event is sold out, but there is a waiting list.
The Edinburgh Festival of Cycling is a community-based Social Enterprise and was made possible by Sustrans, Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative, City of Edinburgh Council, Spokes and SEStran, as well as a number of smaller sponsors.