Skip to main content

The Scottish Mountain Bike Gathering 2023 - The Lowdown

The Scottish Mountain Bike Gathering 2023 was held at Comrie Croft on the 5th and 6th of October and brought together folks from right across the mountain bike industry and community. With a packed programme, interactive sessions and ride outs, we'd like to thank every single person who came along, and made this such a successful event.

Scottish MTB Gathering 4096 2

We hoped that this would be a pretty special event, and it was. From the group rides and swim spots, to the superb presentations and panels, the food, the awesome company, the Awards, the music, (and dancing), pretty cool event partners and the venue absolutely added to this being the most sustainable, inclusive and community focussed Scottish MTB Gathering to date. Here is a wee taster of what went down!

Images - Finlay Anderson

Scottish MTB Gathering Andrew Donaldson

Andrew Donaldson - Founder Comrie Croft

Welcome to Perthshire and Comrie Croft from event partners, Comrie Croft. Andrew shared the story of the evolution of Comrie Croft from a struggling farm to a unique tourism offer that has sustainability and mountain biking at its core.

Scottish MTB Gathering Graeme

Graeme McLean - Head of Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland

Graeme was able to share an update on the progress, on behalf of the members of the MTB Consortium, on the implementation of the 2019-2025 Scottish Mountain Bike Strategy and the key themes and action areas that collectively the community, land managers and owners, businesses, national agencies, Local Authorities, and riders will all play a part in delivering.

Scottish MTB Gathering Graeme

Associate Professor Tom Campbell - ENU

Sustainable mountain bike trails: Tom's presentation illuminated the need for research into the impact of trails and for delegates to consider that if we truly want a sustainable trail model we need to consider what people (riders) want to ride alongside the more established pillars of sustainability: environment, social and economic.

Caper small

Cairngorm Capercaillie Project

Carolyn Robertson, Cairngorm Capercaillie Project and Emma Holgate Glenmore Lodge and Badenoch and Strathspey Trail Association presented on the Capercaillie Trail Feathers Project.

A really interesting but challenging project, which is seeing local mountain bikers develop their plans into something which can achieve the projects objectives. Awesome to see mountain bikers have a voice in a wider conservation effort.

As a community who care about recreation in the outdoor environment we have opportunities and responsibilities to protect the places we love to ride.

For more on this - watch this space - as a pretty special film that the Gathering delegates were shown, will be released shortly.

Further reading -

Riding trails for capercaillie: Tales from a Mountain Bike Trail Intern

New Powers to Mountain Bikers to Help Save the Iconic Capercaillie

Capercaillie Emergency

Scottish MTB Gathering Graeme

Panel session

How sustainable is mountain biking in Scotland? What actions will help us collectively improve?

Panel Speakers:-

Doug Blease - EnviroCente

Lauren McCallum – Protect Our Winters

Stuart Chalmers – Forestry and Land Scotland

Tom Campbell - Edinburgh Napier University

An insightful and thought provoking session building on Tom's earlier presentation.

Scottish MTB Gathering Aneela

Aneela McKenna - Mor Diversity

Aneela provided an informative and emotive look at diversity and inclusion in mountain biking and discusses why both are important for a healthy, vibrant MTB community. This was followed by a healthy panel discussion.

Panel Speakers:-

Aneela McKenna - Mor Diversity

Neil Russell - Adaptive Riders Collective

Aoife Glass - The International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport

Nyasha Makusha - Rider and Video Creator

Anna Riddell - Ride Out Coaching & Limitlass

The panel explored further why diversity and inclusion are good for the mountain biking community, for the individual mountain biker and how diversity and inclusion in our clubs and at our events is so important. Drawing on their own individual experiences, this was an inspiring session. We heard their stories and were encouraged to all play a part in creating an amazing, diverse community where the contributions, perspectives and the presence of many different people are embraced.

The Workshops

Workshop One - UK Trails Project Discussing the Brief: Right Trails, People, Place and Time Report

Workshop hosted by DMBinS, the new UK Trails Manager (online) and Alex Rafferty SRAM. Right trail, right place, right people, right time. SRAM partners with UK cycling and land management organisations to help create a sustainable future for mountain bike trails across the UK. This workshop looked into the development of the brief for the report to help support the future sustainability and security of the trail network across the UK.

Find out more about this unique project and post.

Workshop Two - The future development of the British Mountain Bike Leadership Award. Workshop hosted by British Cycling and DMBinS.

How can the awards evolve and improve? This was an opportunity to influence the short, medium and long term development of the awards. Download this presentation below.

Workshop Three - Destination Development with, and for, Communities Workshop hosted by Ruari Watt DMBinS – Highlands and Will Clarke DMBinS – Aberdeenshire/NEAT.

This workshop explored new improved models of tourism development that engage and involve communities in the tourism offer to benefit locals alongside visitors.

Want to find our more about the future of MTB Leadership Awards?
Download now!

Scottish MTB Gathering Bob

Bob MacFarlane - 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships and Tracy Moseley - Legend

Bob MacFarlane, the UCI Cycling World Championships MTB manager presented to the Gathering on the world's largest ever cycling event, hosted in Scotland for the first time. Bob shared the successes of the mountain bike events and the lessons learned for Scotland to continue to host world-level events.

We were also delighted to be joined by MTB Legend and 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships Board Member to share her unique perspective from being an athlete competing in the XCE events, having riders on her team competing in the XC events, and an inside track of the successes and the learnings from the event as a board member.

Scottish MTB Gathering TMO

Delegates were offered the chance to 'RIDE AND DIP' and shake off any hint of a fuzzy head after the Scottish Mountain Bike Awards with a ride to a natural pool in the River Ruchill for a refreshing dip. So many folks turned up for this 06:30am start and enjoyed this uniquely awesome start to the day.

Practical Sessions

Session One - Dig Session – Led by the Comrie Trails Team, DMBinS DIRTT Tutors and Trash Free Trails

Using mattocks, hoes, and spades the group reshaped a corner to improve the descent to the Croft. This was not just an opportunity to dig, but to chat all things trail related, and test ride the new corner.

Session Two - MTB Leader CPD Rideouts – Led by Glenmore Lodge

This was taster of Transformational Leadership followed by a led ride.

Session Three - Creating Accessible Rides – Led by Aneela McKenna – Mor Diversity & Neil Russell – Adaptive Riders Collective

This was a fabulous opportunity to find out how to create an inclusive space for riders of all abilities and from all different communities.

Session 4 - Trail Therapy Session – Led by DMBinS & Comrie Croft Trail Therapy Leaders

Trail Therapy is an innovative intervention programme that uses mountain biking to support those experiencing mental ill-health. This was an opportunity to get a practical feel for what Trail Therapy is all about.

We had so much positive, and emotional, feedback about these sessions and it is absolutely something we will be replicating at our next Gathering / Conference.

Further reading


Become a Supporter

You may also like


Become a Supporter