Athlete’s review of the Bathgate to Airdrie cycle path that our Nordic Training Group
The Bathgate to Airdrie Railway Path is fairly accurately named. Taking in Armadale, Blackridge and Caldercruix, the path, which is part of the much longer national cycle route number 75 follows the route of the railway line between Bathgate and Airdrie. Off-road, paved and 27.3 kilometres in length, Snowsport Scotland’s Nordic Training Group set out one Saturday this October to see how much of the route they could roller ski.
The Nordic Training Group is a new initiative being run by Snowsport Scotland this year. Participants aged 12 – 16 who were not part of Nordic clubs, but engaged in other sports applied to take part in the programme. Snowsport Scotland are running 12 monthly training sessions for the group. The sessions are geared towards developing skills and fitness for cross-country ski racing.
Four members of the Nordic Training Group were joined by Snowsport Scotland’s Cross-country Skiing Pathway Coach and parent helper, Liz (on borrowed bike, which thankfully did not have a cheese grater saddle) at Bathgate Train Station to set out on their roller ski adventure.
From the station, the group had a little bit of a walk / double pole to get to Morrison’s where they were able to access the cycle path. Stopping just before Armadale for lunch, the group made their way 11.5 km to Blackridge before catching a train back to Bathgate.
Here are the group’s reviews of the trip:
“My favourite section was the big long straight stretch of smooth tarmac next to the keyhole [between Bathgate and Armadale]! I would warn people there are some big puddles and it’s very windy at some parts. The terrain was pretty flat most of the time and sometimes it was quite steep. It was very smooth!!! I think the train worked perfectly especially as it took us 3 hours whereas the train took 2 minutes.” – Fraser
“I really, really enjoyed [the route]. It was hard work but a lot of fun (type 2 fun for some of us in the sporting world). Every so often we would stop and focus on certain skills like: skate 1, stopping and balance. The terrain was useful for things like skate 1 and stopping. There were beautiful uphills and glorious downhills. Even if there was a huge pile of dog poo waiting at the bottom for the unwary.
When working on the balance exercises the path was silky smooth, Bliss. One of my favourite bits was the long section with the ‘gates’ at the bottom. This is where Jack and I decided to take a quick pit stop and cheer on the rest of the group.
Advice I would give to someone doing the route is to have a positive mindset and a pair of shoes for the walk back to the train home. This is a great route for building endurance and technique.” – Hannah
“My favourite part was the Armadale to Blackridge section. The tarmac was smooth for skiing. I think people should watch out for the mini-jungle because that was really slippy!
Some of the track was flooded and rough I would recommend the track for both [skate and classic] techniques.” – Jack
“I enjoyed the long, smooth section between Armadale and Blackridge because it is not too difficult to ski but also has a mix of uphills and downhills. The weather was good and it was not too busy, which also made the day very enjoyable.
I think people should watch out when they fall into the side of the path, especially on downhills or at high speed because there is a high risk from dog poo at the side of the path.
Other than this, I would also be careful of the leaves, especially at this time of the year, and the slippy bits at the side of the path because it can cause your ski to slip.” – Douglas
More details on the Airdrie to Bathgate Railway Path: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/airdrie-to-bathgate-railway-path/
See more of what the Nordic Training Group have been up to #SSSNordicTG
Liz Rauscher photos