TweedLove Cycling Festival named the best yet

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TweedLove 2013 will be remembered for two reasons - the unprecedented wall to wall sunshine and for the international cycling stars that made their way to the Tweed Valley.

Cyclists flew in from Chile, New Zealand, the USA and Canada to pit themselves against the Tweed Valley’s best known names.

The action kicked off on May 24 with a non-competitive mountain bike ride out for teenagers, followed by the launch of the annual photo competition and some skills sessions especially for women.

It was all about enduro on Saturday and Sunday, as nearly 500 mountain bikers made their way to Tweed Green in Peebles for the POC King and Queen of the Hill race. The gruelling five hour stage race saw local talent shine, with Gary Forest of Eshiels and Emma Guy of Innerleithen take the top spots on the podium.

Monday saw the only adverse weather of the week, but a hardy procession of riders still made their way out to take part in the Natural Tweed ride in the hills.

The sun was back in time for the Peebles sprint and Family Ride on Tuesday. Nearly 500 families took to the streets of Peebles to make the most of the closed road circuit that had been laid out for some of the country’s fastest road racers.

The family ride was followed by the ladies sprint, and it was Louise Borthwick of Edinburgh Road Club who was victorious, whilst in the men’s it was junior rider Mark Stewart – who didn’t even pop his winner’s champagne as he’d promised to save it for his mum.

Peebles Cycling Club hosted a Dirt Crit for under 16s on Wednesday night – with over 150 youngsters taking part at Glentress. TweedLove Organiser Neil Dalgleish said the event was one of the festival highlights for him.

“To see so many children on bikes was just amazing,” said Neil.

The action moved inside on Thursday, as the Eastgate Theatre hosted a film night. As well as a showing of the latest Red Bull offering Where the Trail Ends the film and photo competition results were also announced.

In the film category it was From Russia with TweedLove that took top honours, whilst in the photo category it was Chris Ball’s picture of famous cycling photographer Sven Martin that was awarded first place.

There was an old school flavour to Friday night as Glentress Lodges opened up their grounds for the TweedLove Dual Slalom.

The course saw two competitors race head to head down a tight, steep course with a knockout style of racing. There were audible gasps from both the competitors and crowds when none other than rider Steve Peat turned up to throw his hat in the ring.

The Santa Cruz rider is the most successful downhill mountain biker in the history of the sport, with over 50 world cup podiums to his name along with a world champion title. But Peat was saving himself for the downhill race at Innerleithen on Sunday and didn’t push it, with Chris Ball of Dirtschool eventually taking the win.

Another glorious day of sunshine awaited the 600 competitors at the Glentress Seven last Saturday.

The seven hour cross country race was a tough event – even the nine Santa Cruz racers who flew in especially from California were surprised by how tough the course was.

However, the tough race conditions certainly didn’t put Santa Cruz off as they chose TweedLove for the global launch of their new bike, the Solo.

The MacFarlane Hall was the setting for the event, with 150 of the great and good of international cycling packed in to watch the solo launch film, shot in the Highlands of Scotland last month and featuring Steve Peat.

The film was followed by a question and answer session, along with lashings of a rare whisky specially donated by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Tweed Green was the venue for the family day on Sunday, with kids as young as two taking to a specially prepared race course on their balance bikes. There were no winners as such – but every entrant wen home with an ice cream and rosette.

Meanwhile, down in Innerleithen there was a very different style of racing underway, as some of the biggest names in mountain biking turned out for the British Downhill Series race. An international field made their way to the famous trails in preparation for the opening round of the World Cup series at Fort William this weekend. However, it was British talent on the podium with Adam Brayton and Rachel Atherton taking the gold.

Neil Dalgleish thinks this year’s festival was by far the best yet.

He added: “TweedLove 2013 has been outstanding. Not only has the sun shone all week, but we have also welcomed visitors from all over the world and shown them just how special the people and the riding in the Tweed Valley are.

“From the army of volunteers who have given up their time to help, to the competitors and spectators, everyone has commented on what an incredible atmosphere there is here. Our international visitors especially have been bowled over by the warmth and generosity they have been shown by the local people.

“TweedLove is the only cycling festival I can think of that attracts world class athletes as well as young children and families, and that actually reflects the riding community we have here in the Borders. I couldn’t be happier with the way this year has gone or be more grateful for all the support we have received.”

For full results from all the events visit www.tweedlove.com