A LOT has changed in the 182 years since Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the son of a blacksmith, put his mettle into pedals in the Dumfriesshire village of Kier.
Macmillan’s feat - or should that be feet? - of ingenuity in creating what is widely recognised to be the world’s first pedal bike places him in the pantheon of great Scottish inventors such as James Watt, John Logie Baird, Alexander Fleming and Alexander Graham Bell.
Almost two centuries on, Macmillan’s legacy has never been more important. A year from now the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships will mark an historic homecoming for the power of the bike.
The first-of-its-kind event will come to Scotland, with 13 UCI World Championship finals showcasing cycling’s variety of disciplines taking place in 10 venues and locations across the country. The compendium of cycling will feature events as diverse as artistic cycling (gymnastics on a bike) to cycle ball (football on a bike). It will bring cyclists and non-cyclists together to reaffirm Glasgow’s status as mecca of major sporting events and Scotland as a catalyst in the commitment to climate change.
The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow and across Scotland for 11 days from August 3 to 13 as the biggest cycling event in history will be staged for the first time. Over 2600 elite able bodied and para-cyclists will be joined by over 5000 amateur athletes, with 190 UCI World Champions crowned.
The 2023 UCI Cycling Worlds is more, much more than men and women in lycra. It is the latest instalment of elite global competition, following the successes of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and UEFA EURO 2020, delayed by a year due to the pandemic.
Next year’s championships will also be a social and cultural yardstick, nearly two years on from the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 which brought world leaders to the city to commit to reducing carbon emissions and, ultimately, save the planet.
Cycling’s world leaders will come in pursuit of gold medals and rainbow jerseys but the humble bike can also reaffirm its place at the heart of an even more purposeful peloton.
Scotland, perhaps inspired by the indomitable spirit of Macmillan, has become one of the cycling capitals of the world: from Sir Chris Hoy’s imperious status as six-times Olympic Champion, Katie Archibald’s team and individual brilliance, and Neil Fachie’s World, Paralympic and Commonwealth heroism. It is a bucket-list destination for many who want to experience the breath-taking undulations of Glentress Forest and Fort William, the rich history of Stirling and, of course, the history and heritage of Dumfries. Glasgow’s status as a coveted UCI Bike City brings an additional dimension to its existing major event credentials
The Power of the Bike will be brought to bear on the track, in the mountains, on the roads and in the stands and on the pavements lined with well-wishing fans, and the 2023 UCI Cycling Worlds will be the tie that binds the country’s commitments to sporting greatness and climate conscience.
In the past week I have watched the pride with which Birmingham and its people have hosted the Commonwealth Games, and witnessed the unbridled joy on the pitch, in the stands and across the country as the Lionesses won the UEFA Women’s EURO at a sold-out Wembley.
The influence of major events cannot be underestimated. Sport is a passion best shared and so our vision for the 2023 UCI Cycling Worlds is that everyone should feel part of it and be inspired to get on a bike irrespective of how long it’s been since you last rode.
The humble bike has a significant role to play in generating long-lasting behavioural change that will contribute to Scotland, and countries around the world, being healthier, wealthier and greener. We will commit to leaving a tangible legacy through our three event pillars: People, Place and Planet.
We will work collectively with Scottish Government, its agencies, and local authorities to bring a collective civic pride and a long-term purpose to staging this inaugural event.
Delivering a major event against a backdrop of a global pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis adds more complexity for organisers and hosts but equally provides greater opportunity to make a tangible impact.
As an event we aim to set the benchmark for world leading sustainable cycling events by implementing best practices and engaging with event delivery partners on sustainability objectives and setting standards for impact measure.
We will aim to reduce our emissions across all the events major impact areas – transport, energy, venues, food and beverage and water. I am pleased to say that we are a signatory of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. As a short-lived event, it is vitally important we do everything we can to support the Race to Zero and supercharge Scotland’s 2045 net-zero target, right down to the rainbow jerseys being made from recycled plastics and materials. The power of the bike has never been more important and through the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships we aim to put on a show. Macmillan would be proud of the momentum almost 200 years on. The countdown begins now. It’s time to reinvent the wheel.
TRUDY LINDBLADE IS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE 2023 UCI CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS