My first ever visit was to participate in a ‘Winter Wet n Wild’ race in Innerleithen. I was just 12 years old, riding a hardtail with 100mm of travel and v brakes. Coming into the bomb hole, I crashed!!! My brake lever dug in and jammed full of mud - my first ever race was far from successful and I had a DNF to my name.
From there on, we’d visit the Valley to ride the downhill trails of Traquair Forest using the uplift service and to ride at Glentress. These were the early, humble days of the scene and the Freeride Park was the place to be. Machine-built jumps, berms, and drops - this was the spot for honing those core MTB skills!
From there, I discovered trail riding - this was way before Enduro was a thing, it was like aggressive cross country - I was doing it to train for downhill racing and we’d head out for a lap of Glentress’ red or black. To me, this really felt like an adventure and then all of a sudden there was a new movement suited to this style of riding, and competitions began to flourish.
Some were time trials, all-out efforts for upwards of an hour and others were multiple stage races, similar to what we now know as, Enduro racing. Hand-cut trails were starting to emerge, they were built with the purpose of being raced on and you’d hear about them through the grapevine, there were no apps or maps, you’d quite literally have to sniff them out.
Downhill, however, was still the main theme of the Valley and the Scottish racing scene was at an all-time high. Innerleithen had just hosted a round of the European DH Cup. It was a big deal, a new track was cut in, wooden features constructed and racers came from around the world to compete.
After that, was when I remember the evolution of the Golfy beginning…
The network of trails was small, it was a locals-only thing with a handful of passionate diggers building and if you wanted to ride here you really had to be in the know. The Golfy gave me a new MTB experience, riding there really felt like a proper day out - you’d see almost no one, the climb was challenging but the descents made it oh so worth it. Loamy, loose, fast, technical, and tight are just some of the ways I could describe them.
These early trails are still on the hill today and remain as classics. It was when the Enduro World Series in 2014 and 2015 came around that it helped establish the Tweed Valley as a destination and the secretive hand-cut trails then became recognised.
Over the last number of years seeing how the scene has evolved has been amazing - it’s become community-driven and as a result, the trail network is world-class and is only going from strength to strength.
The Tweed Valley has evolved to become Scotland’s premier MTB destination and is recognised worldwide as a first-class location for mountain biking. From endless km’s of trails to big mountain epics to downhill and even gravel riding - there’s something in the Tweed Valley for everyone and the trail network is incredible.
I guess summing this up, what I’m saying is, it’s easy to take what we have now for granted. It’s been a process, the dedicated and passionate locals have shaped what it has become and I couldn’t be more excited to see the continued evolution of the Valley.
With major events on the horizon and the continuing success of the TVTA and trails associations across the country, it’s never been a more exciting time for Scottish Mountain Biking.