The TweedLove Collective January 30, 2019
We are delighted to introduce to you, the kids with the best poker faces in the Valley,
The TweedLove Collective, our epic new race team for 2019!
The TweedLove Collective isn’t about results, it’s about the community and us supporting some of the amazing talent that is emerging here in the Tweed Valley. The team are a bunch of talented young kids who just love riding their bikes and who want to encourage their friends and younger riders to join in on the fun. We are super proud to support the team and equally have them support us as ambassadors of TweedLove.
The team not only have the full support of us but also the guys at Hotlines who will be hooking them up with all the gear they need for the year ahead.
So… let’s put some names to faces!
Name: Sandy Mackay
Most exciting part of being in the TweedLove Collective? I am super stoked to make new friends on the hill and ride with the Collective.
What bike are you riding this year? Currently in deep negotiations with bank of Dad, looking at many “hotlines” for a downhill rig.
What events are you most looking forward to taking part in this year? Enjoyro, mini downhills and hopefully visit my big brother for a race in Canada.
Where is your favourite place to ride? Fort William downhill and Top of the world in whistler are hard to beat but ixs at Innerleithen is my favorite!
Do you have any other hobbies when not on 2 wheels? Rugby, football and bagpipes but not all at the same time…
What are you most proud of to date, on or off the bike? Standing on the podium at fort William on the weekend of the World Cup the year before last.
Any tips you would give someone looking to take up riding? Ride with friends and enjoy the ride!
Name: Ally Birks
Age: 12 (or 14, depending on who’s reading)
Most exciting part of being in the TweedLove Collective? Being a part of TweedLove, who are the best in the business!
What bike are you riding this year? Mondraker Foxy
What events are you most looking forward to taking part in this year? Enjoyro and Kinnoull Hill mini-downhill for the jumps.
Where is your favourite place to ride? The Golfie.
Do you have any other hobbies when not on 2 wheels? Playing football for Edinburgh City FC & cross-country running.
What are you most proud of to date, on or off the bike? Beating Billy at last years Enjoyro & being top goalscorer last season for Edinburgh City.
Any tips you would give someone looking to take up riding? Get off Fortnite and get off the brakes!
Name: Billy Birks
Age: 14, actually 12, but I’m trying to blag an entry into Transcenduro!
Most exciting part of being in the TweedLove Collective? Being a part of something that our friends can get involved with.
What bike are you riding this year? Mondraker Foxy
What events are you most looking forward to taking part in this year? Enjoyro and Innerletihen mini downhill.
Where is your favourite place to ride? Inners for Winners!
Do you have any other hobbies when not on 2 wheels? Playing football for Edinburgh City FC, rugby, running and the odd triathlon.
What are you most proud of to date, on or off the bike? Winning the Innerleithen mini downhill last year.
Any tips you would give someone looking to take up riding? Ride quick!
Name: David Cathcart
Most exciting part of being in the TweedLove Collective? Shredding all year with an epic bunch and having fun!
What events are you most looking forward to taking part in this year? The Family Day, I enjoy seeing the next generation of shredders & I’m looking forward to taking part in the Transcend Festival a full weekend of bikes yeeeeeeeeh buddy!
Where is your favourite place to ride? Les Gets/Morzine and the local trails.
Do you have any other hobbies when not on 2 wheels? I’m into all sport Athletics, rugby, Basketball, Skiing, you name a sport and I’ll give it a go.
What are you most proud of to date, on or off the bike? Getting 97% in my maths test, managing to throw a javelin and not hitting anyone, filling over 2000 envelopes for the Tour o the borders registration packs. Always very proud when I perform well at any sport.
Any tips you would give someone looking to take up riding? Remember chamois butter is not edible…
Name: Phoebe Gale
Most exciting part of being in the TweedLove Collective? The most exciting part of being in Tweedlove Collective is being in a local team with so many different strengths.
What events are you most looking forward to taking part in this year? This year I am most looking forward to racing the Scottish and British Downhill Series and both of the Tweedlove Enduros that I am racing.
Where is your favourite place to ride? My favourite place to ride would probably be Innerleithen, but its always nice to ride somewhere warm and dusty!
Do you have any other hobbies when not on 2 wheels? When I’m not on my bike I swim and play hockey and netball for my school.
What are you most proud of to date, on or off the bike? I am most proud of winning the 2018 Under 19 Scottish Downhill Championships at Fort William.
Any tips you would give someone looking to take up riding? The advice I would give someone who is looking to take up riding is to always enjoy riding your bike.
Name: Thomas Richardson
Most exciting part of being in the TweedLove Collective? The chance to develop my riding and get more people stoked on bikes with the support of such a great organisation.
What bike are you riding this year? Trek Slash
Where is your favourite place to ride? That’s a tough one. Either the Golfie or Inners would take the top spot for me.
Do you have any other hobbies when not on 2 wheels? I have started to run and walk a lot more this off-season, it’s getting outside and enjoying Tweed Valley without the faff of getting out on the bike at this time of year (my dogs love it too).
What are you most proud of to date, on or off the bike? Probably progressing my skills and gaining confidence on some of the harder trails and features in the valley.
Any tips you would give someone looking to take up riding? Just enjoy it and don’t be afraid of the challenges of improving your skills and confidence.
Name: Cammy Brown
Most exciting part of being in the TweedLove Collective? Good riding with great people!
What bike are you riding this year? Trek Remedy 8
What events are you most looking forward to taking part in this year? The TweedLove Triple Crown.
Where is your favourite place to ride? Lake District and Tweed Valley.
Do you have any other hobbies when not on 2 wheels? Maintaining my bike.
What are you most proud of to date, on or off the bike? My bike and photograpy, watch out Ian!
Any tips you would give someone looking to take up riding? Just enjoy it.
So there you have it, our very own magnificent seven!
We are so excited for the year ahead, watching these guys do what they do out on the trails and just having an epic time.
Keep your eye on the blog to see how the guys are getting on and where you can catch them next.
Also a massive shout out to local legend Ian Linton for his support of the Collective and getting these fantastic shots.
TweedLove’s new kids’ events partner January 23, 2019
In 2013 Jerry and Shelley Lawson set out on a trip to buy bikes for their own two children… a trip which resulted in zero bikes being purchased… So, Jerry and Shelley set about creating quality, lightweight, child-specific bikes that are more fun to ride, easier to learn on and all-round awesome – they created Frog Bikes.
Five years down the line and Frog’s child-centred approach has earned them global accolade; industry awards for innovation and design, an award-winning factory, around 1,800 retailers worldwide and thriving partnerships, now including us!
As well as their epic bikes Frog support our mission of creating a generation of active, healthy and ultimately happy children. So, this new partnership means one thing – LOTS OF FAMILY FUN!
Explore our 2019 calendar of activities below!
Frog Bikes Family Day 2019 | 26th May 2019
Victoria Park, Peebles
Frog Bikes Family Day, Britain’s biggest kids cycle event! An event that’s all about taking part, and even more about having fun on your bike. The Frog Bikes Family Day consists of three fun ‘races’ for kids – seeing how many laps they can do, or going that wee bit faster! Aside from the racing you will also have the chance to chat to the Frog Bikes team about all things bike and even try out some of their award-winning bikes for yourself! Good parents click here
Transcend Festival Family Activities | 7th-9th June 2019 | Innerleithen
The TweedLove Transcend Bike Festival is all about riding bikes and good times for everyone. The Tweed Valley and surrounding area has some of the best MTB trails in the country and is a world class venue for all kinds of bike-riding. So here we have a festival weekend to celebrate just that with equally stoke-filled times off the bike for ALL ages!
- Frog Bikes Transcend Kids Adventure Zone
Enter if you dare, you may never want to leave! A mini festival within itself, designed with kids in mind. Whether its riding the pumptrack, trying out a new Frog Bike, getting an epic face paint or taking on the Frog Bikes Demo Fun Loop there is something to keep everyone entertained. Leap on in and experience the fun…
Sunday, 9th June
Join hundreds of riders of all ages at our legendary annual event. For 2019 we will make our way from Peebles along the Tweed Valley Railway Path, a picturesque route following the River Tweed for much of the way, finishing at the Transcend Festival village, outside Innerleithen.
Open to everyone, just bring a bike and a helmet. Join the parade
TweedLove’s 2019 Enduros January 17, 2019
TweedLove’s 2019 Enduros –
here’s the lowdown
VALLELUJAH ENDURO 2019
23-24 March 2019 | Glentress
A Tweed Valley enduro adventure.The first event of the TweedLove Triple Crown series and a chance to ride away the winter blues. The course as usual will be kept under wraps until the event, but the stages will provide an awesome day out – and something a wee bit different. Event HQ is at the Peel cafe concourse.
TRANSCEND EPIC 2019
7-9 June 2019 | Transcend Festival, Innerleithen
Oooft. Limited numbers of available entries won’t stop this being the most talked about enduro in the UK this year. It’s this country’s first two-day, multi venue, uplift-served enduro adventure. You’ll ride thousands of metres of descent on some of the best enduro terrain in the land, on a trip taking you the length of the Tweed Valley forest park and back again. It’s a ‘name’s on the tin’ kind of weekend – it’s gonna be EPIC!!
7-8 June 2019 | Transcend Festival, Innerleithen
Go ‘full enduro’ at Transcend! The second event in the Triple Crown series – a top notch TweedLove enduro course and race is centre-stage for the big Transcend weekend. Awesome trails, braw cake at the feed stations and a load of top bants from your pals, all in one fabulous day of riding**, so you can fully enjoy all the the festival craic afterwards.
*OK we can’t guarantee the quality of bants **optional practice on Friday
TRANSCENDURO BOOST 2019
9 June 2019 | Transcend Festival, Innerleithen
A slightly lighter helping of enduro, but still with all the flavour. You’ll get round the whole thing in 3-4 hours so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the festival. If you’ve had a bigger day and/or night on Saturday you can still race on Sunday without worrying you’ll be biting down on a full scale Tweed Valley enduro.
Sunday 9 June 2019 | Transcend Festival, Innerleithen
TweedLove’s ‘entry level’ enduro race for younger riders and people wanting to take their first steps towards enduro racing. Not quite ready to take on the full-on steeps and gnar of the legendary Tweed Valley enduro trails? No problem – this is the one to go for.
BEMBA National Enduro Series – Round 5
King & Queen of the Hill
18-19 August 2019 | Innerleithen
This event is a UK enduro classic, and one of the most popular enduros of the year. In 2018 even DH legend Danny Hart joined the start list (and won!). The big news is that this year King and Queen of the Hill is also round 5 of the BEMBA National Enduro Series. This means that not only will you be able rack up those final Triple Crown points but you can also gain points for the national series.
Photos: Ian Linton
The Whyte Gisburn induction – and the Cyclocross Bug October 31, 2018
TweedLove Race Team rider Callum Thornley hits a different kind of dirt, on a different kind of bike
I knew my brand new Whyte Gisburn had arrived at Alpine Bikes, and when I got the call saying the bike was ready I was ecstatic to see it. In person, the frames paint job is glorious and the carbon SRAM force cranks look amazing. It was dark once I was home but a quick sprint up and down the street was enough to tease me – I couldn’t wait for the weekend to get on the bike.
It was race day at Lochore Meadows Scottish CX round 2. After spinning round the course and checking out the features, I hopped on the rollers and got stuck into my warm up. Got a decent, start sitting 3rdinto the first set of loose, muddy flat corners. Then, as we returned into the start/finish arena after the start loop, I got caught in a pile up. I fell onto muddy grass so there wasn’t any pain, just annoyance. Lost more than a minute, eventually made it up to the group fighting it out for 3rdbut the leader was long gone. Attacked the group on the last lap but got outsprinted for 3rdand ended up 4th. What an eventful great fun race.
Lessons learnt from my first CX race: don’t be scared to lower the tyre pressures as I was skidding about everywhere on 25psi, on a wet grassy course, and don’t crash on the first crucial corner!
Good solid week of training on the CX bike and I confirmed to myself the Whyte Gisburn is now my absolute favourite bike to ride and I definitely have the cyclocross bug. 2ndCX race last Sunday, round 2 of the British National Trophy at Irvine Beach. Arrived Sunday morning and walked the course with my Dad. It looked mega: 2 sand pits, 2 hurdles and endless off camber. Got back to the car, pinned the number on, sorted the tyre pressures and got into the usual warm up.
Not doing the 1stround at Derby wasn’t my wisest plan as I was gridded 79thout of 80 under 16 boys. But nevertheless, with my elbows right out, the whistle signalled the start and after the first lap I was somehow sitting top 20. The game plan was to recover on the flats and destroy the climbs and more technical sections. It was all going to plan, I was sitting 8th going into the last lap and then midway through I punctured my rear tyre. I rode as much as I could then with the flat and ran the finishing straight. I didn’t think I would achieve top 30 so a potential top 10 before the flat and a 16thplace finish was a huge surprise and an exciting result.
I’m now buzzing for the rest of the winter and can’t wait to get out on the Gisburn for my next ride or race. The thing that really stood out for me with the Whyte Gisburn is how much it rode like a mountain bike on any technical sections. In the sand pits, which caused so much trouble to many riders, the bike felt so in control and just like my MTB! Then when it hits the flats and the climbs, it rides like a road bike. So far, mega impressed with the bike and I’m now officially addicted to cross!
HUGE thanks to Whyte Bikes for sorting out the bike, and to Tweedlove and Alpine Bikes for the continued support.
Callum Thornley (15)
No Such Thing as a Dry Race September 10, 2018
by TweedLove Team Rider CALUM JOHNSON
The Whyte King & Queen of the Hill was the final race of the 2018 TweedLove Triple Crown Enduro Series and this was going to be the most technical of the lot. Beginning up Caberston Forest for 3 steep and physical stages. Then crossing the valley to Traquair Forest for the final 2 stages of gnar. After a day of practicing in classic Scottish weather the trails were running perfect but I knew that was all about to change as I heard the rain lash down as I fell asleep.
Sat at the top of stage 1, nothing could of prepared us for the colossal amount of mud that awaited us. After dropping in I was immediately taken aback by quite how wet and slippery stage 1 was. The already tricky corners with no support were only made more difficult by the layer of slick mud which had coated the whole trail top to bottom. Stage 2 was a more watered down repeat of stage 1 where the thinner trees and steeper terrain allowed for mud to get washed away only to be replaced with plenty of off camber-roots to keep things interesting. As stage 2 was the longest and most physical stage of the day I conserved my energy and focussed on carrying speed and riding clean, which couldn’t of gone any better until the final corner where an awkward root would catch me out. Stage 3 had previously taken the victory of hardest stage in practice however to my great surprise and relief last nights rain had completely changed the conditions and boosted the grip levels allowing me to let the brakes go slightly and attack the stage.
It was a long transition up to the start of stage 4 at the top of Traquair Forest on the other side of the glen, but that was definitely made a whole lot easier by a good group of boys to ride up with. Stage 4 had definitely snuck the win for hardest stage of the day by combining steep, tight trails with wet clay covering each corner. Unfortunately my front wheel decided it didn’t fancy staying in the rut on one corner and instead took a more direct line straight down the hillside. This resulted in an unwanted tree hug and a very sore shoulder, but that wasn’t going to stop me making it to the top of stage 5. A mix of old and new DH trails wound their way down to Innerleithen. Cautious of the slippy conditions and now very aware of how quickly things could go wrong, I cruised my way down the final stage.
Once I had put my timing chip in I was delighted to have placed 3rdin a packed field and only a second from 2ndposition. 13thplace in the overall was also a great way to end my first year of racing the TweedLove Triple Crown, even taking the junior Triple Crown title as well. A massive thanks to Alpine Bikes for going above and beyond to let me borrow a bike as mine was being nursed back to health after an untimely frame crack. Also big thanks to WTB for maximising the little grip out on the course, VOID Cycling for letting me show off their awesome kit, Whyte Bikes for their constant support and fnally to the TweedLove Crew for putting on a brilliant series and for never being able to do enough for me.
Photos by IAN LINTON
Whyte King & Queen of the Hill – Ben Balfour’s race report August 30, 2018
Chain reactions and lessons learned
Saturday morning started off in Alpine Bikes with me attempting to fix my bike. With it sorted and in tip top condition with a fully stretched chain and bled brakes I set off; at the early time of 12 o’clock. With everyone coming down off the hill looking puzzled at my clean kit I felt it best to pick the pace up. I went through the stages forgetting the last as soon as I got to the next. Lucky for me I had brought my go pro to look over the footage that evening. Not so lucky I forgot to do that!
I was one of the last riders to practice the stages meaning they would be in the same condition for race day – or so I thought until I saw the forecast for the heavy rain that night. I managed to crash at the very end of the last stage with a set of skin gloves on. Apart from that practice was insane fun! I felt so stoked at the end of the day and I was ready to race – or so I thought..
I woke up on Sunday looking forward to riding some fresh trails some of which I’d only ridden once before until I looked out the window at the rain. Today was gonna be spicy. Stage one was down New York New York which had recently had some work done to it. I felt stiff as usual and it has only occurred to me now I should probably do some proper warm ups before my first stage. I felt I put a solid run down apart from wanting to feel a bit looser.
As I lined up for stage two I felt pretty calm trying to remember the course then shortly remembering I hadn’t actually ridden it in practice. Good idea… There was a sprint at the start that was gonna be fun. 3.. 2.. 1.. I put the power down and heard an almighty crunch. Had I run over an adder?
The pedals went slack as I looked down to realise I was missing a chain. Adrenaline and stupidity told me to leave my chain behind. I quickly realised I was going to have to get down this stage somehow. In an attempt to pick up speed I decided to kick off the ground with my foot. Which got me nowhere. The clock was ticking, and frustration was high. I managed to pick up enough speed in the forest to get overtaken by Tom Wilson on a flat section. I knew I’d lost 20 seconds of time now. I managed to stick on his tail on the techy section until I came around a tight corner that I didn’t expect. I managed to get my wheel stuck on the wrong side of the tree which was just what I needed. From that stage I had lost 26 seconds from winning pace which I needed to make up. When I got to the bottom I realised what a good Idea it had been to have left my chain at the top. By this time my chain had been ridden into the mud by about 20 riders and the marshal couldn’t see it.
TweedLove Race teammate Calum Johnson kindly gave me a chain link for my non-existent chain. As I doggy paddled along to the event village I realised this would be the end of my race. I was going to miss my stage times and get a time penalty. On the plus side I think I got everyone I passed going up to stage one pretty stoked on how muddy they were about to get. After kindly getting my chain fixed for free by the guys at the Shimano tent, I had a generous 15 minutes to get to the top of the next stage. I started sprinting up until I realised I would need a motor bike to reach it to the top in time. Now I was riding on my own I had time to reflect and I decided I would carry on riding for the fun of it.
After remembering there was a food station at the bottom of stage three I was pretty keen to get to the bottom. I managed to stay supper loose down jawbone, almost too loose in some sections. I also sampled every cake at the food stall to keep me going for the last two stages. Barts Trail on stage four was pretty scary but I managed to put in a solid run. The final stage was amazing fun especially the new last new corners. Overall I managed to take second; 0.3 seconds off the win with a time penalty of 5 minutes which bumped me down to 8th. Ill probably take from this race that you need to fix your bike before practice day ideally, and check your chain stretch. But that’s racing.
Photo: Ian Linton
IMPORTANT – Help stop the tree disease August 15, 2018
We’ve heard from Forest Enterprise Scotland that the horrible tree disease we’ve all been dreading has reached Innerleithen’s Traquair forest. It likely means that a lot of trees will come down (which may or may not have impact on trails – as yet unclear) but the big thing for now is that we need to stop this going any further – it’s VERY important so PLEASE DO THIS.
- Before coming to the forest, make sure your bike, shoes, kit and dog are all clean.
- You must clean your bike after practice on Saturday, and after racing on Sunday.
- There is a free bike wash at Icycles on both days if you have your number board on your bike. There is also a free bike wash at Glentress Peel car park.
Here’s the word from the folk at Forest Enterprise Scotland:
It’s great to welcome everyone to the Tweed valley and we hope all competitors have a great time riding the trails this weekend. However, we’d like you all to be aware that we are dealing with the P Ramorum tree disease in the Tweed Valley so as a preventative measure please can you clean your bikes before you arrive and before you leave to help prevent the spread of the disease.
What about riders’ clothes?
Yes they should be cleaned as well/will carry the disease also – It’s difficult to expect bikers to clean kit Saturday to Sunday – but as long as they understand that they need to clean their kit before heading to the next destination or arrive with clean kit etc.
What is the disease?
Phytophthora ramorum, orP Ramorum for short, is a disease that affects a number of shrubs and which also kills larch trees.
Larch trees are an important species for timber but also a very common sight in our Scottish landscapes and on the National Forest Estate.. (They’re the ones that make the valley forests glow orange in the autumn. – Ed)
The disease has been present in Scotland for many years and whilst we can’t eliminate the disease entirely, we can slow the rate of its spread by felling the infected trees, and those around them, as quickly as possible.
Because P. Ramorum spores can be spread from tree to tree on footwear, dogs’ paws, tools, equipment and bicycle and other vehicle wheels, we can also help slow the rate of spread by taking a few minutes to ‘Keep it Clean’ and making sure that we don’t bring mud or debris from one forest into another.
If the concern is more about folk leaving here with the germs, is there equal concern about folk coming from elsewhere too?
Yep they should bring clean bikes and clean gear – because if they’ve been riding at Ae for example where there is a big area affected by PR then they come here with a dirty bike there is every chance they will spread the disease.
From zero (riding) to hero – Ben Balfour July 20, 2018
Our third TweedLove Race Team member, Ben Balfour, has spent the best part of the last year off the bike through injury but, with the prospect of taking on the UK’s best at the British Champ’s he managed to get back on the bike and enter the British Champs. With the Whyte King and Queen of the Hill race fast approaching we can’t wait to see if he can back up his success. Now over to Ben for his tale of going from zero time on the bike to smashing the British Champs…
After the best part of a year off my bike due a prolonged wrist injury that had dragged on I was super excited to get back to riding. I wanted to channel this frustration that had built up over this time into my efforts at racing and training. I really had no idea how I was going to do but I wanted to give it my best shot. I first got back on my bike properly three weeks before the race, spending a lot of my spare time riding the Golfie trails. I felt excited to come back to racing but had last minute doubts to whether I was up to it. Had I overdone it and would a long weekend racing put me right back to where I was a year ago?
Practice on Friday and Saturday was amazing fun. The stages were running super quick, and I felt loose on the bike. There was an excited atmosphere and I was looking forward to racing on the trails the next day.
Race day came too quickly with my 6am start and the usual last-minute rush to get all my bike and kit ready. Anticipation built as I cycled along the cycle path early Sunday morning wondering how the day would go.
As I started off down Morning Glory, twenty seconds ahead of team mate Callum, the reality hit. I was RACING! The top few corners felt rusty as I warmed up, and I made a stupid line mistake causing me to hit the next corner very hard and tight almost bottoming out. Losing valuable seconds and feeling my wrists buckle I thought that might have been the end my day. But as I rode out of the corner I felt no lasting pain. There was a small fire road sprint that took it out of me. The rest of the stage felt good. Someone in front of me had a pretty bad crash causing him to have to unfortunately pull out. As I sped out the bottom of the stage one I was already looking forward to getting up to the second stage; Fools Gold.
Stage two and three both felt super good and my wrists were feeling strong but already I could start to feel arm pump at the bottom of stage three. I hadn’t done many full out laps in an age… it was catching up with me! Stage four was down Water World which was the most technical stage of the day. All I wanted to do was stay on my bike because I knew I couldn’t make much time on the steep terrain; but of course, that didn’t happen! I managed to hit a tree with my brake lever crushing my finger between it and the bars. I was all good apart from my finger feeling like it had punched a tree. On the fifth stage I had a shocker and managed to come off the banking of a corner because I came into it too hot. At the bottom of that stage I was sure I had no chance of a podium position. But my goal had only really been to get through a long day. I put that behind me on stage six which was by far my favourite stage of the day! With the tight corners at the bottom running so quickly. Such a good stage to finish on!
When I got my times back I was completely shocked to find out I had won! This reality only really kicked in after I had gone home for a nap and came back for prize giving. Junior British Enduro Champion 2018.It was too good to be true after the disappointment of a full year off my bike.
My prolonged injury downtime forced me to discover new activities. Hill running proved the best substitute for fitness. It took me into new place and, although the adrenalin fix wasn’t there, the bonus was nothing more than trainers for kit, no bike to wash and maintain and a much-reduced laundry load! I now appreciate being able to ride my bike so much more, but I also appreciate the value of cross training. Over doing any one thing makes you more prone to injury. For me I shall keep mixing it up and every bit of hard on your body riding will be quality time.
I really want to thank Neil for believing in me and keeping me on the team, and also Alpine bikes for race support!
Photos: Ian Linton Photography
A day out at the Brits June 19, 2018
British champs on home turf, what could be sweeter. TweedLove, would be hosting the 2018 Whyte British Championships and it would be my first race against the best that Britain has to offer. I was going off early with the rest of the juniors in my category. I was looking forward to my first taste of racing on a bigger stage and buzzing to see how I would fare. It was going to be a long day with 53km of riding and 1600 metres of climbing which lay ahead of us and I couldn’t wait!
The day started with a quick blast along the cycle path to wake up the legs before steeply ascending up through Traquair Forest to stage one; MORNING GLORY. The top section was slick! A narrow trail of rocks and roots with just enough moisture to threaten a slide out when at race pace. After dropping onto the top fireroad a lung-busting sprint led you into the steep stuff. The game plan was to ride smooth and take it easy as it was the first stage, easier said than done. I was glad to reach the bottom with no major mistakes however it was gutting to have passed my friend and competitor Tormid Doherty who had hit the deck and fractured his collar bone into four pieces! Hope you heal up quick and get back riding soon mate.
Straight out of stage one and right back up to the top for FOOLS GOLD. The top section was similar to the last before crossing the fireroad onto a fast straight with fun gap jumps and step downs. I was riding fast, maybe too fast! Just before entering the final descent down the new goldrun turns, I clipped a pedal. Nothing major just enough to pick up my back wheel and send it of to the side. I now had my front wheel on the trail and my back wheel skidding alongside me. I was sliding sideways down the steepest section of the stage straight towards a tempting tree. I didn’t lose too much time but it was annoying to already be behind after only doing a third of the stages.
It was a long transition from the bottom of Traquair forest to the top of the moor up Caberston where SCOTLAND THE PERFECT STAGE awaited us. This was the longest stage of the day taking us from the top of the hill right to the bottom. It was also a very physical stage even though there was not a huge amount of pedalling to be done. A full body work out is an understatement. Unfortunately stage 3 followed the same trend as the 2 previous. Multiple small crashes and mishaps followed me down the trail as I overcooked turns in the tight, steep Golfie corners.
Stage 4; F.E.A.R. also known as my living nightmare. An early crash had sent me out the front door and headfirst down the steep and slippery hillside. By the time I had clambered back up the trail to retrieve my bike I had already been passed by fellow racer Tom Wilson who had started 20 seconds behind me. I attempted to follow Tom as we ventured down the valley towards Walkerburn. But no later than 30 seconds after I had got back on my bike Tom also crashed followed by me ploughing into the back of him causing a tangle of legs, bodies and bikes. When I eventually reached the bottom of stage 4 I knew I had some serious work to be done if I wanted to rectify my mistakes and try to come away from the British Champs with a good result. Unfortunately Tom had reached the end of his race as he had totalled his back brake rendering it useless.
It wasn’t far to climb before we reached the penultimate stage; BORN SLIPPY. An oldschool track that was new to the majority of racers but would be just as challenging as the other stages. A series of loose, rocky corners led you into the steep trees towards the bottom of the hill. Unfortunately it had taken me up to this point to realise that time could be made up by staying on my bike and being smooth. Luckily for this stage I followed those tips and made it to the bottom clean and in control.
After blasting along the cycle past for the second time in the day we climbed up the last ascent of the day towards THERE’S NO OTHER WAY. I had been looking forward to this stage as it was the stage I was most comfortable on and excited to race down. To make things even better there was a new addition of corners to take us from the end of the first trail down to Peebles.
After finishing the day with 2 strong stages I had done just enough to secure 3rdposition in the junior E1 category. Although not my best form all day I am still pleased and proud to say that I’m up with the fastest in the UK in my first year of racing enduro. Congratulations to my TweedLove RT teammate on taking the British championships jersey after being off the bike for the best part of a year! And also to my riding buddy Polly Henderson earning the champs jersey convincingly infront of a world class field and even taking 3rdin the overall. Thanks so much to the whole TweedLove crew for putting together an amazing event and creating a great racing atmosphere. I’d also like to thank Void for keeping me looking good and kitted out, WTB for supplying me with components to help me race my best, alongside Whyte Bikes and Alpine Bikes for all their support.
Pics by Ian Linton
Liz Read – Finding my Gritopia May 17, 2018
Keen gravel rider and friend of TweedLove, Liz Read has been taken out on a preview lap of the Gritopia route and she absolutely loved it! Here’s what she had to say about it:
“I was lucky enough to preview the TweedLove Gritopia route before it’s announcement, and what a route it is!
It provides some absolutely stunning views, as only the Tweed Valley can, along with some rowdy descents which left me wanting more – even the climbing was fun! Honest…
The route starts with a familiar climb up some traditional mountain biking trails – sometimes this climb can feel a bit of a slog, but on the gravel bike things moved much faster, which was great! I also hear there may be a few unexpected surprises here…
Once at the top there’s a fast flowy descent, which left me grinning from ear to ear, what a cracker on the gravel bike, it is fast and long. By now I was starting to get well off the beaten track and after a bit of a breather came another extremely pretty climb, generally a fairly mild gradient, riding past little streams, buzzards, some picturesque ruins and lots of fabulous views. As the kilometres ticked up, I began to feel I was on a proper adventure, far from the usual routes within the valley. Smooth forest road laid the way for a fast descent onto a tarmac section. Gravel bikes come into their own on this type of ride – ticking off the distance without the drag of an MTB.
Now to a different corner of the valley for a bit more climbing to get to the top of the forest, and that’s all the climbing done. There was no time for switching off yet though – fast paths and techy descending here, but all very rideable and SO MUCH FUN…
For a 60km ride this packs a good punch – I can’t believe there is so much to explore out there that I’ve never ridden before…
Grab a ticket for this event, its an absolute belter of a route, guaranteed to put a smile on your face!”
So, as Liz says, get over to http://tweedlove.com/2018-event-info/gritopia-2018, get yourself a ticket, and find your Gritopia on Saturday June 9th.