Hoy, Froome, Pendleton, Cavendish, Wiggins â€“ stop anyone in the street and theyâ€™ll know these names. But when it comes to cycling weâ€™re increasingly a nation of doers as well as watchers, and TweedLove is vivid proof of that
Photograph: Ian Linton
If you thought TweedLove was good this year, wait until the next one. That’s the gist of event director Neil Dalgleish’s assessment when we catch up with him for a chat.
Over ten days, the 2013 edition of this celebration of all things bike really moved up a gear, with more entrants and more races than ever.
Neil says: “TweedLove’s success is really born out of its location. We have great mountain bike trails at Glentress and Innerleithen and some great road cycling, and we also have a unique population in this part of the UK, with a real density of enthusiastic cyclists.
“We are getting better at marketing it, and also better at running it and giving people a great experience. A highlight for me this year was the Enduro race, which sold out months in advance.”
In 2014, the festival will expand to a full fortnight, and will be part of the nationwide Homecoming celebrations, with extra support from VisitScotland and EventScotland.
Neil adds: “We will be welcoming the world to the Tweed Valley. There will be some new events, and they will be very high-profile. We’re looking forward to making some announcements about them soon, but I can’t say any more about them just yet.”
He gives much of the credit for TweedLove’s success to the army of marshals and volunteers that allow it to take place. “It astounds me what a fantastic group of people they are. They’re so enthusiastic.”
This year’s TweedLove had its headquarters for the first time in Peebles town centre, where its tents and general hubbub transformed the usual tranquil atmosphere â€“ in a good way.
Neil will not be alone in remembering the Enduro, billed as POC King and Queen of the Hill, in which contestants battled it out over five demanding and diverse mountain bike stages, spread over Glentress and nearby Cademuir to ensure maximum variety of terrain and gradient. The 345 finishers won’t forget it in a hurry either.
For the town of Peebles itself, the main event was perhaps the Family Ride (pictured top), in which the streets were filled with riders of all ages. Some of the UK’s top sprinters then took to the same course with rather more intensity.
The contrast in speed and mood that day speaks volumes for TweedLove’s all-embracing spirit. Roll on next year â€“ 24 May â€“ 8 June, to be exact.