Tweedlove – biggest and best

Tweedlove Bike festival.
Tweedlove Bike festival.

IN LESS than three years, TweedLove has become the biggest bike festival with the widest range of cycling events in the UK.

Started and run by local cyclists in 2010 the 10-day celebration in the Tweed Valley, this year will include races and guided rides for fat and skinny-tyre riders, skills sessions, a concert and other cultural events for everyone.

Festival director, and one of its founders, Neil Dalgleish said: “It’s phenomenally exciting.

“We hoped TweedLove would be a success and we’ve just been swept along on a huge wave of enthusiasm from everybody. There is a lot going on this year and the whole community is really getting behind it.”

Cyclists are expected from all over the UK. Four mountain bikers are coming from Spain to take part in one of the races. As usual, some events are free and already some sessions are booked out.

“The bike community seem to be taking Tweedlove to their hearts,” continued Mr Dalgleish.

He added: “I don’t know if there is one particular highlight this year – there are so many different events for so many different types of cycling – maybe it will be the whole thing of being able to immerse yourself in biking and biking culture for 10 days.”

New events include the POC King and Queen of the Hill, a major enduro race in which riders will compete on a series of timed stages in Glentress Forest – including one of the longest timed descents of any UK mountain bike race – for the crown as ruler of the trails.

Sunday June 3 is Bivvy (bivouac) Night when mountain bikers will carry lightweight camping gear and stay out overnight in the Peeblesshire hills.

Following last year’s sell-out women-only rides, organisers are laying on an events programme for ladies, including mountain bike skills sessions and a town centre criterium on Tuesday.

It follows hard on the heels of last year’s successful introduction of the Peebles Sprint, the festival’s first town centre criterium road race.

It’s on again this year, preceded by the popular family ride, when hundreds of children and adults cycle through the car-free town centre.

New too this year is Kidzone, a comprehensive programme of entertainment for children, including a children’s downhill race at Innerleithen, a mini mash-up, a town centre balance-bike race for the under fives, kids cross-country, pumptrack and fun skills sessions.

The overall programme itself has been extended from a week to 10 days this year to include the Queen’s Jubilee holiday weekend. And the Glentress Seven – a seven-hour mountain bike race for teams and individuals in the Peeblesshire forest – is back after last year’s hugely successful debut.

Also making a return are the two big free rides – Skinny Tweed (road) and Natural Tweed (off-road) – led by local cyclists, firm favourites in the TweedLove calendar having been features of the event from the start.

Headlining the festival’s Crank It Up concert night on Saturday June 2 in Peebles Burgh Hall is up-and-coming indie rock band, We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Alpine Bikes are the title sponsors and EventScotland and Scottish Borders Council have also put money into the festival. For more information visit www.tweedlove.com