Glentress takes centre stage in biking stakes

Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence' s (BASE)  Ruaridh McRitchie (left) and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland project manager Graeme McLean help launch the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland at Glentress last Wednesday.
Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence' s (BASE) Ruaridh McRitchie (left) and Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland project manager Graeme McLean help launch the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland at Glentress last Wednesday.
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A new £300,000 multi-use mountain biking centre of excellence last week opened at Glentress, near Peebles, to help the sport, businesses and athletes.

In the next two years, organisers say the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland aims to help businesses launch five new products or services, drive three development projects, support 25 business start-ups, and within five years generate an additional £1.5million in turnover.

The new facility is the work of Scottish Enterprise in partnership with funders, the Scottish Funding Council and Edinburgh Napier University. The cash will go towards academic resources and to pay a business development executive and part-time administrator.

The Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence (BASE Downhill) and Edinburgh Napier University will use the centre as a test and proving facility for mountain bike products, as an outreach sports science support base for the work with elite athletes and for vocational training.

The project’s lead academic, Dr Geraint Florida-James, a reader in sports science at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “The centre will give us a superb opportunity to build on Scotland’s expertise in the science and practice of this exciting and growing sport.

“It will allow us to bring academic expertise to bear on new products produced here in Scotland, while showing international companies that if their product can work in the challenging conditions of the Scottish climate, it will work anywhere.”

And Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) will relocate from the Scottish Cycling offices at the Velodrome in Glasgow to the Glentress office.

The organisation’s project manager, Graeme McLean, said: “The centre will provide a great base to continue to showcase and maximise what Scottish Mountain Biking has to offer, whether it be supporting mountain bike innovation, continuing the sporting success of our elite athletes, driving participation, or growing tourism and economic development.”

Scottish Enterprise’s south of Scotland director, Alistair McKinnon, said: “This is a fantastic addition for Scotland to support one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, with a real focus on driving innovation and business growth.

“Our ambition is to grow the international interest in Scotland as a centre of excellence for the sport, encouraging international brands to use Scotland for product development, testing and launch, and for international teams to use our facilities in increasing numbers.

“All of this will act as a catalyst for increasing tourism revenue across the whole of Scotland.”

Recent economic impact figures show mountain biking generating around £120million annually for the Scottish economy.

Mountain biking is Scotland’s second most popular adventure activity after walking.

Visitor numbers to Glentress have grown from 186,000 to 301,000 in recent years.

The centre will host a mountain bike clinic on Wednesday, July 16.

A centre spokesperson said: “The clinic is open to anyone, whether an existing business or just at idea stage, to attend and discuss the idea for a new innovative product or service for the mountain bike sector. The informal one-to-one meetings will help identify the status of a service or product’s development and allow the centre’s team an opportunity to see how they can help take the idea forward.