The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships took place in Glasgow and across Scotland between 3rd and 13th August 2023 and was the first to bring all cycling disciplines (minus Cyclo-Cross) together in a multi discipline championship that stretched from Glasgow City Centre to the Borders, north to Fort William, east to Stirling and Edinburgh and within touching distance of Aberdeeenshire when it visited Angus and North Perthshire.
With the world’s best riders in place, the championships could not have gone ahead without the army of volunteers who stepped forward into the various roles and for one member of staff from Live Life Aberdeenshire it was to be a week to remember, with a trip back to her home area of Dumfries and Galloway, and week of meeting the elite riders of Para Cycling.
Last month, I was fortunate enough to have volunteered at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, and I was based at the Para Cycling events in Dumfries. My role was as a female Chaperone for the Anti-Doping Team and although I had previously been assigned a different role, I was excited to learn about the testing procedure and how it all worked.
Our first day on site was a training day where we got to know the other volunteers, as well as the sites we would be working at. We were also issued our uniforms and accreditation and my pass gave me access to all areas, as anywhere the athletes could go, I could go.
On my first day on shift, we had the process explained to us and I was fairly nervous, as the testing process is something I know very little about and I wanted to make sure what I did was correct. We had a really great Doping Control Officer (DCO), who put us all at ease and trusted us to get on and do the work required.
At the start of the day the DCO was advised by the office who, from which races, were to be tested so we organised ourselves and divided the races up between ourselves. There were other Chaperones who were more than happy to help, and to provide support and advice if we needed.
First off was the Women’s B Individual Time Trial which was for visually impaired athletes, where they race on tandems with a sighted pilot in the front. There were two British pairs for this race who eventually finished second and fourth, with the Irish pair taking gold.
Next up was the C4 category which featured none other than Dame Sarah Storey, who is the most decorated British Paralympic athlete. She was totally awesome and comfortably won, so it was my job to chaperone her!
Post race we had to go to the medal ceremony, so I had time to chat with her and found out that she has links to the North East of Scotland. Prior to her cycling career, when she was a swimmer and along with her family, she would visit the North East on holidays, where they would stay in a cottage in Banchory and went swimming at the Stonehaven Open Air Pool.
Sarah was used to the process, so she made me feel really comfortable and even found out where would be best for me to stand when she was receiving her gold medal and rainbow jersey. That is the closest I will ever get to being on a podium and I had a tear in my eye when the national anthem was played.
When Sarah came off stage, she did an interview which happened to be conducted by her husband Barney, and she was then greeted by her parents, who she introduced me to along with her children. We then headed back to the Anti-Doping cabin to finish testing process.
For my next shift I was helping out with spotting the riders we needed to test, as there were no women’s races that afternoon and all too soon it was my last shift at the Women’s Road Races. This time I took the B category in which the British pairs came in third and ninth respectively. It was again won by the Irish pair who had stormed the race after having to change a wheel.
The top British Pair of Sophie Unwin and her Pilot Jenny Holl did really well as they’d already secured three gold medals on the track, so they now had a silver and bronze added to their collection and I got the opportunity to congratulate them at the medal ceremonies.
For the Women’s B race. Sarah Storey again won convincingly to take another gold medal, but we had swapped around our Chaperone roles to ensure we had different athletes this time, but I did get another chance to chat with Sarah and the passion and drive she has is outstanding. I have no idea how she fits everything into her day to day life.
All too soon it was time to say our goodbyes. I met some wonderful people over the week and had the best colleagues with everyone looking out for each other and always quick to lend a hand when you needed one. I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with and would certainly volunteer again in the future.
The athletes were the stars of the show. There was such a wide range of teams there, from those who had the luxury and well equipped team buses to those who just had a hire van and pretty much everything in between.
Most of all, it was wonderful to see them all striving for success in a sport they love, and I now have much more appreciation for Para sport. They are all heroes. The experience is one that I will remember for a very long time and I’m so proud to have played my part in the success of the event.
Carol Wilson, Administrator with Live Life Aberdeenshire
(All photos courtesy of and with the permission of Mick Unwin)