It’s a big year for TweedLove as the young cycling festival hosts the first and only UK leg of the World Enduro mountain biking series this summer.
The man behind the event, co-founder Neil Dalgleish, said: “We have the opportunity to give a great welcome to the world’s best mountain bike riders, and if we get it right, we can really put the place on the map as a significant international destination for years to come.”
A few years ago, the 50-year-old social sciences graduate and mountain biker Emma Guy from the “still-missed” Hub cafe at Glentress staged a few events, including a film night alongside other organised local bike rides.
“It worked really well. and it just felt like it was the right thing to be doing,” said Neil. From that evolved the first volunteer-supported TweedLove in 2010.
“There’s just such an amazing group of positive people who love their biking living here,” said Neil.
The dad-of-three has lived in the Borders or Edinburgh area for most of his life, apart from two years in North America – one as a teenager in Vancouver, which he describes as “an inspiration”.
His career started early when he became involved in the student newspaper and student politics: “It was fantastic fun and I developed a big interest in communications and how to get messages across.
“I paid rent for my flat at uni by working in Pennel’s bike shop in Peebles two days a week. Cycling had a great scene about it then (early 1980s) and it still does now. Back then I never thought the Tweed Valley could become such an amazing destination for riding bikes – it’s fantastic.”
He’s worked in graphics, on music magazines and in design, creating album covers for Scottish bands in the late 80s and 90s. He was with EventScotland for several years on the brand and positioning of the likes of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Mountain Bike World Cup.
“I learned a fair bit about how events work and how to communicate with customers. I’d long had ideas about events I’d like to do and how I would do them, so moving into organising them was a fairly natural transition.”
He now runs his own design and communications company, Hillside Agency, and Hillside Outside, an events organising business and “pretty much where the buck stops for TweedLove”.
Neil bought his first mountain bike in the mid-80s, but remained more interested in skiing, skateboarding and climbing before becoming smitten.
He told us: “Above all it’s fun. When you get it right it just feels so good, and when I’ve managed to ride a lot I love the feeling of fitness. Going downhill fast on a bike puts a smile on your face and the constant challenge in raising your skill level is undeniably addictive.”
Asked what he was most proud of in his life, he said: “My children, because they’re great.”
What does he still want to achieve?: “Get faster and fitter, which is getting harder all the time and requires getting that tricky old work/life balance sorted, and spend lots of time with my family, hopefully having great adventures. I’ve got a big bucket list which gets bigger all the time.”