Mountain biking first needs local support say organisers

Downhill mountain biking in the British Downhill Series at Innerleithen
Downhill mountain biking in the British Downhill Series at Innerleithen

The Tweed Valley reaffirms its place as a world-leading mountain bike destination next year as it hosts a round of the World Enduro Series.

And now award-winning organisers Tweedlove are urging the sport’s enthusiasts and local businesses to get involved.

“Plans are being put in place now. It’s a call to action,” said Tweedlove’s Kate Ball.

Tweedlove won the bid to host the UK leg of the EMBA World Series Enduro in the Tweed Valley in May next year.

The company’s co-founder and director Neil Dalgliesh says the event will generate ‘conservatively’ £1.2million. It will cost about £150,000 to stage.

He said: “We have been invited to the top table of mountain biking. We don’t have the finances of the Whistlers or the Val D’Iseres, but we are determined, as a cycling and mountain biking community, that we will put on a show that is every bit as good as Whistler. We are in discussions with FCS and trailbuilders about the best combination of trails to make the most enjoyable event. The great thing is its (the event’s) flexibility. The riding here is every bit as good as anywhere else. The event will sell out: it’s up to us how many we can fit in and what makes the best event.

An estimated 21 pro teams are expected, with more than 100 riders, including Olympians, taking part, plus an additional 450 recreational riders

Kate said: “Although there are these elite athletes, anyone can enter. We will have Steve Peats competing against local guys, anyone who is a decent mountain biker can compete.”

Neil said: “One of the reasons it’s become such a worldwide series is that it represents what most people do on their mountain bike – they have a social time, they don’t kill themselves going up the hill, but generally the most fun is going back down faster than your mate. This is a very well organised version of that – a great day out.”

Kate explained the discipline involves cross-country and downhill riding – and an ability to mend your own bike.

She said: “It’s not just a fitness or technical ability test, it’s to find out the best all round mountain biker. If something goes wrong with their bikes when they are out, they fix it.”

The series – similar to rally car stage racing – was created only last autumn by Borderer Kate’s husband, Chris, and coverage of last year’s series online on YouTube alone attracted more than two million views.

Kate said “It’s a new format and it’s hard to understand how big it’s become so quickly. There is huge international interest.”

She added: “From a spectator’s point of view, people can just turn up and get to see the best downhill and cross-country mountain bikers in the world for free: it’s going to be a fantastic show.”

The contest has support from Event Scotland and may also get help from Scottish Borders Council.

Neil was also at an international trade show seeking sponsorship last month and said: “There are a lot of deals on the table.”

Neil said: “We want everybody to be aware of it and get behind it. If we all get together we can deliver a great event which we can all be proud of.”