Innerleithen's love affair with cycling ... in pictures

Innerleithen’s love affair with bikes is celebrated in a photography exhibition taking place in the town this week (10-13 August) to coincide with the cycling world championship events in the Tweed Valley.
The 'We Are Innerleithen' exhibition takes place in the town from Thursday to Sunday.The 'We Are Innerleithen' exhibition takes place in the town from Thursday to Sunday.
The 'We Are Innerleithen' exhibition takes place in the town from Thursday to Sunday.

The exhibition, entitled ‘We are Innerleithen’, features specially-commissioned portraits of almost 100 local residents by award-winning photographer Natalie Martin, who was born and raised and lives in Innerleithen.

Mountain biking has been part of Innerleithen’s story since at least the early 1990s, when pioneers of the scene started racing up and down forest roads at Caberston. By the end of that decade, the first official downhill race had been held in Innerleithen, on custom-built trails and the valley’s reputation was established as a top destination for enthusiasts around the globe.

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Natalie said: “These shoots allowed me to interact with and photograph so many different characters, each of whom has made an impression on our amazing wee town. Some of the people featured are recent arrivals who have already begun to influence our community, others are more familiar faces locally, who I've known my entire life and who have contributed so much to Innerleithen. What they all have in common is an enthusiasm for biking and a determination to grasp the many opportunities it creates for business and pleasure here.

Natalie Martin.Natalie Martin.
Natalie Martin.

“I wanted this project to take a creative approach to the portraits, incorporating personal props that would differentiate the subjects and give every image a unique twist. The result was a set of fairly unconventional but fascinating portraits and the images we have selected for the show are the ones that interested me the most. I hope people enjoy viewing this exhibition as much as I enjoyed creating it.”

The exhibition has been conceived and organised by The Hub Innerleithen Community Interest Company (CIC), a not-for-profit enterprise created in 2019 by Pauline Archibald and Carmel Scott, to help residents and businesses benefit from events and developments taking place in Innerleithen.

Pauline Archibald, a trustee of the Hub Innerleithen CIC said: “One of the reasons we created the community interest company was to make sure the Innerleithen community is a key partner and beneficiary when major events like the world champs happen here.

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“Part of that is about ensuring the priorities, hopes and concerns of the people who live and work here are considered and addressed at every stage. But a big part of it is also about extending the warmest possible welcome for guests to our hometown and celebrating the fact that this is an amazing place to visit, to live and, of course, to ride bikes – whether you’re a resident or an occasional visitor.”

Pauline Archibald.Pauline Archibald.
Pauline Archibald.

“Bikes mean different things to different people. For some, they are a means of getting around town quickly in their daily working lives. For others, they are a vital source of freedom, independence, and physical and mental wellbeing. For many here, they are as essential to everyday existence as a pair of shoes. ‘We are Innerleithen’ covers all of the above and everything in between. We were so lucky to secure the services of superstar snapper Natalie Martin for this project and it’s been an absolute joy to watch her work.”

The exhibition would not have been possible without the generous contributions of time, money and hard work by a number of local people and organisations, including George Meikle of Innerleithen Community Council, Dave Cotter at Caddon Creative, The Hub on the High Street, Gordon Bain from The Trailhead Café, Rich Rowe at GoTweedValley, Thomas Fleming Joinery, and Scottish Borders Council, which provided grant funding.

‘We are Innerleithen’ takes place at the Old Foodstores on Traquair Road, Innerleithen (opposite the Trailhead Café) between 2pm-8pm daily from Thursday 10th to Sunday 13th August.