Ride Together Scotland proves a big success
Laughter, crashes and some of the best trails Innerleithen has to offer were all on the menu for our first ride-out with Nukeproof and CALM
Innerleithen, Scotland, played host to our first Ride Together gathering, in conjunction with Nukeproof and supported by CALM. The ride started from the incredible Tweed Valley Bikes – a venue right at the centre of the village and a real hub for all things bike-related. It proved to be the perfect place for the chosen riders to gather, chat and stuff their faces with homemade cake, before rolling out into the hills for an action-packed day.
Saturday saw our first group of riders take on the trails of Innerleithen. With a steady pace set by our coaches for the day, Fi and Tomy from Tweed Valley Guides, we set off up the fireroad eager to see what gems were hidden among the trees.
After a steady pedal up and plenty of chat on the way, Fi soon gave everyone a few coaching tips ahead of dropping into our first trail, Angry Sheep.
The first few tight turns really keep you on your toes, and while it wasn’t wet, the trails were still a little damp and greasy in places, making braking tricky and any exposed roots seriously slick.
As we wound our way down the hill, the air was filled with laughter, along with the odd shriek now and again. Everyone was clearly loving it.
After slowly winching back up the hill, gathering our breath and regrouping, we dropped into Green Wing. Again, this trail is riddled with tight turns and, at times, traction was hard to come by – as some people found out the hard way!
Stopping part way down, Fi and Tomy took the time to coach us all through a few corners, focusing on body position and maintaining the flow through the technical Scottish terrain.
Another lap of Green Wing followed and before we knew it, we were back down in the main car park, breathing heavily and with grins plastered across our faces. We rolled back to Tweed Valley Bikes where we exchanged stories and ate even more incredible locally-made food.
New day, new challenge
Our second day was aimed at slightly more experienced riders. This is because we were planning to tackle the infamous Golfie hillside and the tracks that are cut into it.
While the group was smaller, there was no shortage of laughter, stories and bike geekery going on as we pedalled to the foot of the hill renowned for scaring some of the biggest names from the Enduro World Series.
The Golfie's sharp turns, high speeds, jagged roots, ridiculous gradient and tight trees make the EWS Tweed Valley somewhat of an outlier in the professional racers' international calendar, throwing up some unusual challenges for those not familiar with the terrain.
Again, we wound our way up the hillside at a steady pace. After ticking off the not-unsubstantial 400m of climbing, we were greeted by stunning views across the valley and beyond.
Just as on day one, Tomy and Fi set about giving us some riding tips ahead of tackling the first descent. Stay low on the bike, bend your elbows and look ahead. What could possibly go wrong…
Hitting the Big Apple
First off was New York New York. It starts with carving turns that cut through the open heath before plummeting into tight, twisty trees where the straights (and some turns) are littered with slippery sniper roots, just waiting to fire your front wheel off the trail.
After everyone safely tackled the open top section, we stopped to regroup before heading into the trees. As we plunged in, the pace and terrain changed, forcing us to really think about our braking points and cornering techniques.
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With everyone cleaning this section without too much bother, we stopped again. Here, Tomy warned riders of the gradient change. With the trail steepening it was crucial to really control your speed with smart, well-timed braking, all the while staying loose on the bike.
As riders were spat out onto the fireroad there were smiles and fist bumps all around. While some were sporting scuffs and scrapes on their knee pads, everyone had still managed to make it down and we were all buzzing.
Time for a coffee
While New York New York offers some distinct changes in pace and a different feel from the top to the bottom, our next trail, Flat White, is a little more consistent.
It slithers its way down the hillside and, unlike our last trail, has no tight trees to contend with. Instead, rocks, drops and maintaining flow were the biggest obstacles we faced.
We set off from the fireroad, dropping into Flat White in one long train of riders. The laughs, screams and groans as riders overshot turns, nailed drops or just hit the deck were amazing to hear.
After a short climb, we dropped into Repeat Offender – easily the tightest and slowest trail of the weekend. The challenge here is to keep your speed while you dip, duck and dodge your way down through the trees.
As each rider popped out of the woods, the others were quick to congratulate and share stories of near misses. We rolled back to Tweed Valley Bikes for lunch, cake, coffee and even more stories. What a perfect weekend!
Big thanks to Rob Sherratt from Nukeproof, Fi and Tomy from Tweed Valley Bikes for making this ride happen, and CALM for their support throughout. And of course, to all the riders we welcomed on Saturday and Sunday.
Stay tuned for our next ride in the Forest of Dean in October – for a chance to join us, enter here: https://try.mbuk.com/ride-together-campaign