Cyclists on the Isle of Man will benefit for years to come from a legacy project being created from the annual End2End Mountain Bike Challenge.
Next month employees from Zurich International Life will spend one week building a new junior race course, fitness trim trail and play area in Archallagan Plantation as part of a vision that’s been created by the event’s organising team, the Manx Mountain Bike Club. It has designed a multi-phase plan to develop the plantation for cyclists of all abilities and local families to enjoy, at the same time providing a much-needed facility for the Island’s junior racers who are currently limited in their opportunities. Later plans for the site include graded cycling trails for mixed abilities, a skills centre, further play areas and access to the plantation’s lake.
Zurich is facilitating the creation of the first phase at Archallagan as part of its local ‘Community Commitment’ programme; in addition to providing the funding, 125 of its staff will be involved in the building programme over a five-day period.
The development of Archallagan has been in the pipeline for over a year, and is the vision of the End2End Mountain Bike Challenge Organising Committee who were conscious that, despite the fact the event has become so successful, it was providing no lasting benefit for local residents. Following a review of spending, the Committee pledged to create a lasting legacy from the event’s growing success, which now attracts Olympians as well as more than 1,700 riders from the Isle of Man and overseas, and give locals a dedicated facility to practice their cycling skills all year round. The profits from the 2013 event – and all future events – will be invested into developing Archallagan.
Kate Evans, Chair of the End2End Mountain Bike Challenge Organising Committee, said: “Archallagan is a popular place with people of all ages and already has many unofficial mountain biking tracks. Younger children will be able to use the play area with their parents, whilst their older siblings can use the race track close by.
“The play area is close to the Start/Finish of the race track, which is purpose built, and so it means mums and dads can supervise their children there, whilst knowing brothers, sisters and friends are safely out enjoying themselves. This is very much a family and community facility, and it will certainly provide a much-needed hub for junior mountain bikers and racers who can hone their skills or just have some fun in a secure environment.”
Zurich has been a prolific sponsor of the Manx community since it was established here 32 years ago and, as part of its charter, the company’s 220 Island-based staff are committed to supporting a large number of charities, events and organisations, either through fundraising and donations or by volunteering their time and skills. Its CEO, Clive Baker, is delighted Zurich is backing the Archallagan legacy project. He said:
“Our staff are very passionate about how they can make a difference to Island life and so when the opportunity to become involved in creating the first phase of the race track and playground presented itself, it was an easy commitment to make. So many of our staff will themselves be able to benefit from the new facility at Archallagan when it is open, not to mention the wider community, and we can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get stuck into the building work.”
The design of the play area within the new facility has been led by Chris Gregory, Play Development Officer at The Children’s Centre, who commented: “We were delighted to be asked to take part in helping with this development and are looking forward to working with all of the parties involved. We know how beautiful the Island’s plantations are and, by developing some natural play features, we will be an adding yet another incentive for families to go out and enjoy these naturally rich and fascinating environments.”
The development has been given the full support of the Island’s Department of Economic Development. Head of Tourism, Angela Byrne, said: “Isle of Man Tourism is proud to be associated with supporting the End2End Mountain Bike Challenge. It is fantastic that the event is now in a position where it is able to improve the facilities for mountain-bikers of all abilities at the Archallagan site. This is a great legacy project for the sport.”
The junior race track and play area will be open for use at Archallagan Plantation in mid-May.