In the summer of 2023, Scotland hosted the biggest-ever cycling event in the history of the sport: the UCI Cycling World Championships. From the 3rd-13th of August, over 8000 elite and amateur cyclists from more than 120 countries took part in 13 individual championships.
The power of the bike will resonate around the world as the best riders come together to compete for the rainbow-striped jerseys that winners have worn with pride since 1927.
At the helm of this inaugural event is Chief Executive Officer Trudy Lindblade, who believes that the UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland will have a resoundingly positive and long-lasting impact. By bringing together the most elite, successful, and inspiring athletes in the sport, the event has the potential to be an extraordinary catalyst for change. Experience has demonstrated that those who have the opportunity to witness world-class cycling are more likely to increase their use of their own bike.
Biking is good for our mental health, as well as our physical health. It’s good for the planet as well as being financially accessible and socially positive. By inspiring a transformative, behavioural shift in how many people choose to live their every day, the Championships is a fire-cracker event in the UCI’s ultimate and long-term goal to enable and encourage more people to ride bikes more often. And as cycling is one of those brilliant, mood-boosting activities. Whether commuting to work, bike-packing through the mountains or cycling to a lovely, cosy cafe with a toddler in tow, it doesn’t take long for anyone to realise that life is better when spent on two wheels.
The UCI World Championships will be held in Glasgow and supporting venues across Scotland between the 3rd and 13th of August, 2023. Find out more.
One of the most exciting parts of the event is that it brings a diverse range of cycling disciplines together under one roof – or sky. Some are better known than others, but all demand high skill, tenacity and talent.
The discipline involves doing tricks on a BMX without the aid of ramps and jumps. Often described as breakdancing on a bike, the tricks performed are incredibly intricate, creative and impressive. Guaranteed to make you go ‘whoa’ and ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’, BMX Freestyle Flatland makes for some pretty mesmerising viewing.
Flips, tricks, big ramps and big air – it seems like the athletes competing in BMX Freestyle Park put a pin in gravity for the duration of their run. Riders use ramps, jumps and the park walls to pull off unique tricks with apparent ease. Points are awarded for technique, style and originality. You may as well start watching this competition on the edge of your seat – because that’s where you will end up.
Riders set off to complete one lap of a custom-built course at breakneck speed. There’s high-speed curves, rollers, step-ups, step-downs, and tabletops to navigate, all while trying to choose the fastest racing line to cross the finish first. BMX stands for ‘bicycle motocross’, and you’ll be surprised they don’t have a throttle in this need-for-speed game.
Balance, strength and skill are the aim of the game. Riders must make their way through a technical course keeping their tyres between the flags and navigating challenging obstacles. Complete with time pressure on each section, the riders aim to collect as many points as possible without getting any penalties.
The precision that’s necessary for a clean run is impressive, and it makes for exciting viewing. You’ll quickly find yourself invested in each rider as the clock ticks down and they bounce on their back wheels on high stone stacks. Taking place on Glasgow Green, the atmosphere is sure to be buoyant with expectation and excitement, so make sure not to miss it.
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Cycle-Ball is a sport derived from football and involves players trying to score goals against their opponents. Dribbling, tackling, and scoring points against the opposing team demands great skill. Riders can only use their fixed-gear bicycles to manipulate the ball, with penalties given if a foot touches the floor. To excel in Cycle-Ball or ‘Radball’ as it is also known, you must possess excellent riding skills and have a head for competition. Like in football, whoever scores the most goals wins, so get ready to rumble as teams go head to head to secure the coveted rainbow-striped jerseys.
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If BMX Freestyle is breakdancing on a bike, then Artistic Cycling is the gymnastic equivalent. From balancing on the handlebars to doing headstands on the seat – the athletes’ poise, concentration and core strength is breathtaking. Set to music, with competitors either riding alone or as part of a team, it’s a poetic sport that echos elements of synchronised swimming. Incredibly graceful and impressive to observe, it’s worth getting comfortable for as you’ll be invested from the first handstand.
From start to finish, competitors will be pitted against one another on a rough, arduous and technically demanding course. There will be gruelling climbs and bone-rattling descents. The athletes must be calculated and considered: burn out too soon, and you’re toast, hang back for too long and risk being left behind. With four disciplines to look forwards to in August, you’ll be popping on your shades, setting up your camp chair and getting ready for some serious competition as athletes give it everything they’ve got.
Fancy riding the Championship trails yourself? After the last flag has been waved and the final cowbell struck, the trails will be opened to the public. Located at Glentress, an award-winning mountain biking destination located just an hour outside of Edinburgh, test yourself on the XC or enjoy a mellow pedal through the leafy forest. With a buzzing cafe on site, walking trails, and wildlife hides, it’s a lovely destination for all.
It’s the ultimate test of endurance on a 100km course that takes on rocks, roots, mud, fierce climbs and techy descents. Everyone sets off at once, with the professional riders leading the charge and anyone else who fancies a gruelling race that will test both body and mind bringing up the rear. Where spectators gather in snaking lines along the race route and competitors dig deep, it may be a marathon to pedal, but it certainly isn’t a marathon to watch.
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Downhill Mountain Biking is an electrifying sport. From the starting gate at the top of a mountain, riders set off with one objective in mind: to be the fastest. Descending at breakneck speed (reaching around 80km/h), competitors must navigate rock gardens, off-camber corners, steep chutes and big drops. A lapse in concentration, a rogue sniper root, or a sudden mechanical can result in big crashes and dashed hopes. Riders must be focused entirely as they choose the fastest lines while holding their nerve as they race to the noise of capacity crowds.
In 2023, the Championships will be held in Fort William, in the shadow of Ben Nevis, with the reigning British National DH Champ Greg Williamson hoping to secure the rainbow stripes in front of his home crowd. An event not to be missed; once it’s all over, you can ride the race route yourself, as well as a flowy blue or rocky red, all accessible from the top of the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola.
Probably the most iconic cycle sport, with the first officially recorded race dating back to 1868 – all that counts in road racing is who crosses the line first. Split into multiple divisions, including para-cycling disciplines, riders must be tactical, race-savvy and have an unrelenting desire to hold gold in rainbow stripes.
Often with only a mere breadth of a second separating the top-level athletes, every little counts. Aerodynamics is everything, so you’ll be sure to see lovely legs smooth as butter, teardrop helmets, skin-tight suits, and bikes built for breathtaking speed. With lung-busting climbs, thrilling descents and a crowd poised for heartbreak as well as glory, get ready for the excitement of sprint finishes by athletes seemingly immune to pain, punishment and lactic acid.
‘Gran Fondo’ is Italian and can be roughly translated to ‘Big Ride’. In this instance, it’s a long distance road ride encouraging mass participation. There have been several qualifying events worldwide, with the top 20% of riders being invited to race in Scotland. While the fastest riders will have their eyes fixed on gold, the rest will be racing against themselves, hoping to beat their personal best while also having a thoroughly good time.
The circular route will begin in Perth (a town north of Edinburgh, on the banks of the River Tay) and wind its way through the rural beauty of Aberfeldy, skirting the edge of the Loch Tummel. The race covers 160km and climbs over 6000 feet. It’s geared towards community, inclusivity, and those not of the faint of heart.
Leaving the grazing sheep and black slick of tarmac behind, let’s step into the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. The 250m cycle track, made out of Siberian Timber, is the perfect stage for the 2023 Championships.
As with any professional sport, competitors must keep their heads in the game and their eyes on the prize, focusing on performing to the very best of their ability. Sure to involve thrills, spills and nail-biting conclusions, get ready to observe the best in track racing in eleven exciting events.
The UCI World Championships in Scotland make for the perfect reason to visit in 2023. With multiple Wilderness Scotland adventures heading off both before and after the Championships, combine a brilliant and highly memorable holiday with us and the biggest event in cycling the world has ever seen.
Aug 24, 2024
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