Young riders saddle up to tackle testing terrain

Tricky trails in the Selkirk woodland for young Borders cycling enthusiasts.
Tricky trails in the Selkirk woodland for young Borders cycling enthusiasts.

Young cyclists are set to converge on Bowhill Estate, Selkirk, this weekend, to compete in the pinnacle event for all the region’s riders.

Children from all Borders schools, P3-S6, will contest the Scottish Borders Schools U18 Cross Country Cycle Championships over a course consisting of some tough, hilly circuits.

P3-4 competitors will race over two lengths of a twisty and technical 1km route on Saturday morning (10.30am start), with the course length and race duration increasing by year group. The afternoon session will feature S3-S6 racers riding a highly technical 1.5km course which focuses on endurance over a set time period.

Organised by Live Borders, Borders Cycling Development Group, in partnership with Scottish Cycling, the action gets under way on Friday with a 2pm Come & Try fun event.

Coming at the back end of the cycling session, this event allows aspiring riders, who have completed the Live Borders Cycle Skool programme, the opportunity to compete in a cycling event, during which they can put all their learning into a competitive environment and test their new techniques.

Chris Bryant, Live Borders cycle co-rdinator, said: “This year, we run a week after the Scottish Championships at Glentress. Not all riders are old enough to be a Scottish Champion but we want our young racers to have the chance to be a Borders Champion. The course is very tough this year, because a lot of the trails are natural in character. It will be a different type of riding to what the regulars are used to and hopefully a good placing will rely on technical ability rather than just fitness.”

Not only are the riders competing individually, but collectively for their specific school, with the top three boys and top three girls from each race carrying points forward into the Schools Championships, currently held by Priorsford Primary School, Peebles, and Peebles High School. Bryant continued: “After we ran our Cycle Skool programme, it is brilliant to see over half our racers aren’t attached to local clubs. We’ve long known all our bike clubs are at capacity but we wanted to ensure all children who were keen to ride had the opportunity to compete, with an accessible event at the end too.

“Now our Cycle Skool riders have a chance to put their new skills to practice. Not everyone wants to race though so we’re having quite a laid back fun event on the Friday, which will allow all primary school aged children a chance to ride a real XC race course.”

There may still be entries available for the Come & Try event on Friday. Anyone interested can go along and enter on the day but places are limited so people would be best to contact race organiser Chris Bryant at beforehand.