Fierce storms put the brakes on TweedLove Bike Festival

High-performance action from Glentress (images by Ian Linton/Keith Valentine)
High-performance action from Glentress (images by Ian Linton/Keith Valentine)

Almost 3,000 people descended on the Tweed Valley for the first week of events in this year’s Shimano TweedLove Bike Festival – with the elements playing a considerable role in more ways than one.

Saturday saw 800 cyclists take on the legendary seven-hour mountain bike marathon, the Odlo Glentress Seven, well recognised as one of Scotland’s most popular mountain bike events, and this year celebrating seven years since the first race.

Local father and son pairs team, Corran and Crawford Carrick-Anderson, took eighth place overall against a strong field of athletes and riders from all over the UK and abroad.

The weather played a big part part in the results, with solo riders battling the high temperatures and a demanding course,

However, the top riders still clocked up over 120km and 4,000m of climbing before the race came to a sensational end.

The forecast thunderstorms arrived later than predicted but came suddenly, with deafening thunder, torrential rain and forked lightning hitting fields next to the event village and the forest itself.

The race was stopped and all staff and riders evacuated from the trees immediately. No one was injured but the race stoppage and a power cut caused TweedLove organisers challenges with timing equipment and results calculations.

The Islabikes TweedLove Family day also took place in Victoria Park in Peebles on Sunday, with nearly 400 children taking part in fun cycling races, and demonstrating the unprecedented local interest in cycling among local young people.

The event was a sell-out success, with families now attending from all over Scotland and England.

There has been a significant focus on children’s events for week one of the festival, with the TweedLove Short Circuit and Dirt Crit races, both held last week at Glentress, attracting over 700 riders and spectators between them.

There has also been a very popular series of local ride-outs, with visiting mountain bike fans joining local riders to explore the trails around Innerleithen, Selkirk and Peebles.

This social and welcoming aspect of the festival spirit was crowned on bank holiday Monday with Natural Tweed, where 200 riders took part in a free to enter, 50km cross country ride taking in the Meldons, Lyne, Stobo, Ladyurd, Manor and Cademuir.

Last Friday, runners took to the Glentress cycle trails at the inaugural Odlo Glentress 11 Trail Run, taking them on a tough, closed 11km loop around the forest in temperatures of 27 celsius.

Local sports nutritionist and personal trainer, Ruth McKean, took a popular win in the female category with a time of 54 minutes – only five minutes behind the fastest runner of the day, Nick Harris-Fry.

The TweedLove Bike Festival, now in its eighth year, is now the UK’s biggest cycling festival with over 40 events taking place in and around the Tweed Valley spread over a three-week period.

Organisers were delighted with the sucess of the opening stages and, for the second big weekend, June 9-11, TweedLove will also include a ‘mega bike demo’ on Tweed Green.

Many of the world’s top bike brands provide the public with the opportunity to try out top of the range bikes – some worth up to £10,000 each – on the trails of Glentress and country roads around Peebles.