A lucky group of girls from schools across Glasgow have been selected to show off their pedal power ahead of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

On Wednesday, students from St Paul’s High School in Pollok took part in a thrilling BMX session at the Loading Bay in Port Dundas as part of an initiative to promote cycling among young women.

They pedalled enthusiastically up and down the ramps and around the bowl of the indoor skatepark and freestyle facility.

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The S1 pupils are halfway through the programme, which has seen schools across the city select up to 10 girls to attend an intensive 10-week block of biking - including BMX, mountain biking, road cycling and track sessions at the velodrome.

Many of the girls only learned to ride a bike a few weeks ago in anticipation of the initiative.

Delivered by Glasgow Life, the programme is designed for girls from different backgrounds that are at an impressionable age to help them build confidence, meet new friends, and learn to cycle.

At the Loading Bay, the girls participated in a freestyle session with Jack Mills, the centre manager, and Dasha Polakova, a former elite World Champion BMX competitor.

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Chelsea Reid, 12, and Sophie Watson, 11, told the Glasgow Times that the BMX sessions were their favourite and that they would be keen to come back after their block has finished.

Chelsea said: “I just like going down all the ramps and stuff, and learning to do that has been the best part so far.”

Sophie added that she liked attending with the other girls.

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Mahnaz Noori, 13, learned to cycle just so she could join the programme and has even managed to get her own bike.

She said: “Cycling is a sport that I love so much and it’s really enjoyable.”

Mahnaz described feeling “really happy” now that she has learned to cycle and feels more confident now with her new skills in addition to making friends she didn’t know before.

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She said: “When I’m going out shopping and going to the park now I’m going by bicycle.”

Dasha, who grew up in former Czechoslovakia, said that initiatives like this are important for getting girls into sport.

When she was growing up, her parents thought cycling was just for boys. Without the support of her local community, Dasha said she could have ended up on the streets.

She said: “I’ve spoken with a few girls in each session and they seem to really enjoy it.

“They are all back for more and they really want to be on a bike.

“Everyone has a different background, but a lot of these girls only learned to ride a bike maybe two or three weeks prior to their sessions.

“To throw them into the bowls and the ramps is a bit tricky but they are stepping up to the challenge and I think it’s really important.

“Having the freedom of riding a bike, we really take that for granted when you grow up having a bike, you don’t even think about it.

“But a lot of these girls haven’t had the opportunity to do this, and I think, regardless if it’s girls or boys, learning to ride a bike, it opens every door to your freedom where you can just jump on and clear your head and do whatever you like."

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Bailie Annette Christie, chair of Glasgow Life, said: “I am delighted to be here today to meet the girls and the coaches and see for myself the impact this programme is starting to make after just a few weeks.

“It is so important that we normalise cycling for girls and show them that riding a bike can give them such freedom and enjoyment in so many different forms, with something for everyone.

“By aligning the programme with so many different agencies working in this area, we hope to give clear signposting as to how girls can access more affordable cycling opportunities to continue their involvement going forwards, as well as helping them become role models and leaders to encourage even more girls to get on their bikes.”

The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships will take place between August 3-13, 2023.

The highly anticipated event will take place across Scotland, and will bring together 13 existing UCI World Championships for the first time ever.

Some of the world’s best cyclists will get the chance to race past Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, the Wallace Monument, The Kelpies, and the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond before the finish line at Glasgow’s George Square.