Junior mountain bikers have been busy enjoying the Isle of Man’s first dedicated race track since it opened over the weekend at Archallagan plantation.
The facility is the brainchild of the End2End Mountain Bike Challenge Committee who have developed the race track, fitness trim trail and a separate children’s playground. The race track is to give young cyclists somewhere to hone their skills; the wider facility will give families a safe place to go to enjoy spending recreational time together, and also create a lasting legacy from the event which now attracts more than 1,700 racers every year.
The Junior Race Course and Playground was created in just one week by 130 staff from Zurich International Life, who took time out from their day jobs to build it from scratch. Zurich has also funded the project.
The cycle track covers one kilometre through hilly terrain, and features a number of jumps and berms. It was created using more than 80 tonnes of slate, which was put into place by hand by Zurich staff using just shovels and wheelbarrows. There are six pieces of fitness equipment along the course, which are designed for runners to use whilst accompanying their children around the track.
The playground is based on a design by four year old Harry Beattie, the nephew of Zurich employee Ruth Bailey, who entered a competition run by the life company to suggest play feature ideas. It is built of natural materials typically found within a plantation, with the exception of 200 tyres which form part of a series of tyre mounds for children to practice their climbing skills. The Children’s Centre played a fundamental role in finalising the design and overseeing the building of this.
The facility is the first of a planned series of six developments at Archallagan by the End2End Committee, who are also looking to install graded cycling trails for mixed abilities, a skills centre and further play areas, as well as open up access to the plantation’s lake.
Since Zurich was established on the Island 32 years ago, it has been a prolific supporter of community events and local charities. The development of Archallagan forms part of the company’s local Commitment programme, and was co-ordinated by Head of Compliance, Claire Cope, and Finance Manager, Ian Delooze.
They commented: “Last year we asked our staff how they wanted to support the Manx community in 2014, and the overwhelming answer was that they wanted to become involved with a legacy project that benefitted younger people. After months of planning and organisation behind the scenes we have had an amazing week building the junior race course and playground and achieved so much. It has really demonstrated just how all of our staff have pulled together in true ‘One Zurich’ style.
“This legacy project will benefit so many people across the Island’s community and I’m proud to say it’s down to the dedication and hard work of our staff that we’ve added these facilities for local residents.”
Kate Evans, Chair of the End2End Mountain Bike Challenge Organising Committee, is delighted with how the first phase of work has gone. She said: “Archallagan plantation is such a well-used family facility and so being able to develop it and build the Island’s first dedicated junior mountain bike race track and playground is fantastic. The End2End is such a popular event and so it’s important we build on this by providing a legacy that will benefit future generations of cyclists and racers. It’s vital we help children to hone their skills from an early age, or simply provide somewhere they can go with their friends and families to enjoy themselves.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Zurich International Life staff for their hard work over the last week – they have done a fantastic job as well as some seriously physical labour! It’s been great to see what can be achieved when everyone comes together to work as a team with a clear goal in sight.
“I would also like to thank the Children’s Centre and DEFA for their support throughout the development work, and the companies who supplied building materials and equipment to us at a reduced rate, and hope this is enjoyed by children and their families for many years to come.”
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