Over 2000 riders from 18 countries took to the streets of East Ayrshire at the weekend for the first ever Tour of Ayrshire, a qualifier for the Gran Fondo World Championships.
The beautiful Ayrshire scenery and challenging rural roads made the event really enjoyable for the riders, many of whom were first time visitors to Scotland.
However it was the warm welcome from the people of East Ayrshire that had people talking.
Multi World Champion and cycling hero Graeme Obree said: “The support the Gran Fondo riders received from the outlying towns and villages was spectacular. Young and old came out to cheer us on and for me that really added to the event.
“The route was challenging and the high winds slowed us down a bit but when I came back onto Grassyards Road, I couldn’t believe it was over already. It was a fantastic event.”
Marjin from The Netherlands also really enjoyed the event. He said: “The course was fantastic; the organisation was great and the volunteers were second to none. I have had a wonderful weekend.”
Kris from Sweden, who has attended hundreds of cycling events across Europe, said it was the best event he had attended. He praised the support from the local people and event organisers Golazo Cycling for delivering an excellent event.
And it didn’t stop there. Riders from across the world voiced their appreciation for the welcome they had received, the glorious scenery and the challenging course.
Closer to home, Diane Frew from Kilmarnock said: “Brilliant local tour with a great buzz and a few tough climbs thrown in. It was great to see so many people from all different walks of life attend the event. Very well organised and would gladly do it again. Huge thanks to everyone involved in making the day such a success.”
Avril Thomson from Glasgow loved the event. She said: “The banter from everyone who came out to support the event was fantastic. It was also brilliant meeting people from across the world who had journeyed so far to participate.”
The weekend was delivered thanks to a strong partnership between event organisers Golazo Cycling, East Ayrshire Council, the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and the emergency services.
Jason, an experienced medi biker, normally covers events in Wales and England. It was the first time he had worked in Scotland and was impressed by the warm welcome he received from the local community. Jason received special thanks from a family in Newmilns who he assisted after their child suffered a serious asthma attack. He was there in minutes and administered medical assistance meaning the family avoided a trip to the hospital. The family who had just left church were incredibly grateful to Jason. They said: “We’ve just come from church and we know who sent you to help.”
The event was supported by an army volunteers or Tour Makers who gave up their time and worked incredibly hard to ensure it was a success.
Janice McAvoy from Galston was volunteering on behalf of Calum’s Cabin, a local charity that operates in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Janice earned £100 for the charity for two days of volunteering and had an absolute blast in the process. She said: “I really enjoyed working at the event. Everyone I spoke to had nothing but praise for the race.”
Carol Nicol from Kilmarnock’s 37th Ayrshire Scouts was volunteering on behalf of the Scouts. Six Scouts from Kilmarnock will be heading to Namibia in July to build a school and Carol earned £100 towards the project for her volunteering efforts. Carol said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and was proud to represent Kilmarnock as a volunteer. It was wonderful that my organisation also benefitted from my volunteering.”
In Cumnock, the Spring Fling celebration event was a huge success. Janice Hendry, Chair of the Cumnock Action Plan Group said: “As the day went on the sun came out and so did the local community. We had a flash mob, an Easter bonnet parade and an Easter egg rolling competition. The children put a huge amount of work into their bonnets and all of their eggs were beautifully painted.
“Vibrant Communities and Cumnock Juniors ran a very successful ‘Beat the Goalie’ and we had a rodeo bull, which was very popular with young and old alike.
“I would particularly like to thank the ten local businesses and all the residents who took part in the treasure hunt in the week running up to the big race. It was great to see everyone coming together as a community.”
Local businesses also benefitted from the event. The Fenwick Hotel reported that the Tour of Ayrshire had a positive impact on their business both in terms of accommodation and also the restaurant. They said: “It would be good to see this return next year as it has brought a lot of people to the area.”
Katie Johnston from the Park Hotel said: “We certainly felt that the Tour of Ayrshire was good for business and were delighted to host the Tour of Ayrshire organisers from Golazo Cycling over the weekend of the event.”
Stagecoach buses praised the organisers for the smooth running of the event. Both Ayr and Kilmarnock depots worked hard to keep services running, where possible, throughout the weekend.
The overall winner of the Gran Fondo race was Jamie Wilkins and the full list of results is available from the Tour of Ayrshire website