Record-breaking long distance cyclist Mark Beaumont has revealed reading a story in The Courier as a boy set him on his chosen path – and the homegrown talent hopes Fife’s new Cycle Park will inspire others to follow in his footsteps.
The 35-year-old, originally from north Fife, was just 11 when he read about the exploits of someone cycling across the country and admits to being given a new outlook on Fife.
Beaumont is now a household name, having twice smashed the circumnavigation cycling world record.
Reflecting on the moment he became enraptured by cycling 33 years ago, he said: “You can imagine what could have happened at that point if my parents had turned around and said ‘Don’t be stupid, that’s crazy’ — there’s no way I would have had the confidence two decades later to try and cycle 18,000 miles in less than 80 days.
“There’s a lot to be said about giving kids at that age the confidence to build a skill set, build confidence and do what they are interested in.
“At the age of 12, I recruited a friend and we spent three days cycling across Scotland and it grew pretty organically over the years until I left university and cycled around the world the first time.
“So who knows what might happen on Fife Cycle Park, with the kids just having fun?
“It’s such a great space and year on year, even if very few of these kids become professional cyclists, even in terms of their lifestyle, their health, the time they spend in the great outdoors…it has to be a good thing.
“To have such a neat set-up where you can really do so much, I just hope the community engage with that and gives it the use it deserves.
“A lot of work now needs to be done to make sure that people of all ages and all abilities get here and use it because we need to see this utilised a lot and then replicated elsewhere across Scotland.
“I would have loved to have had this when I was little.”
Beaumont is already looking ahead to his next challenge on June 15 when he will attempt to break the hour record for riding a Penny Farthing on a velodrome – a benchmark which has incredibly stood since 1881.
“After doing around the world in 80 days and the rigours of ultra endurance over the last three years, I’m just having fun on the bike now and doing some daft stuff,” he said.
So could one of the next generation of young Fifers enjoying the new cycle park potentially go gunning for his records in years to come?
“I’d love to see someone beat my record – I’m not precious about any of them.
“If one of these kids has what it takes physically and psychologically to be a professional cyclist then fantastic, but even if it just becomes part of their lifestyle and the way they commute to their other job it doesn’t matter.”