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Local Business

Here at MTB Borders we have loads of happy, but hungry and weary bikers visiting the Borders every week. We would like you to fill them up, fix them up, tuck them in and send them home with a grin that guarantees they’ll come again. Bike shop, B&B, burger van, camp site or whatever, we want to put you on the biking map so send us your details today. If you are an accommodation owner and would like to be listed on our Accommodation page,  use the contact form below thanks.

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MTB Borders Road Trips

So I completed the way last Sunday, really enjoyed it apart from from the section from Inversnaid to the Drovers but thats well publicised in most writeups of the way. I started off in very much the wrong way that is I didn’t get up early enough so missed breakfast and had some at costas at the start in Milingavie. The first half of the day was pretty easy TBH until the start of Conic hill (apart from getting bitten by a dog on the way out of Drymen, que loads of TCP!) which is 50% hike a bike. I also climbed to the top just for sh*ts and gigs, good view.

The conic descent if damn good fun and 100% rideable apart from the stairs at the bottom if a bit let go the brakes and pray in areas. From then on its mostly fun singletrack with a little road until you hit the ‘snaid. From there on is one of the most disheartening three hours of my life topped off with a broken chain that put me over the bars, you will never want to see another water bar in your life! I was also pretty screwed through lack of decent food during the whole day, a mistake not to be repeated the next two days.

I reached the Drovers at just before 7PM after a 9 AM start, quite a long day. The food was ace and accommodation adequate so had a good nights sleep ready for the next day.

I woke feeling like crap, had a large breakfast, put an extra couple of links in the chain after bodging it on the trail the day before and set off on what was to be the most enjoyable day of the three. From the Drovers to Tyndrum was dispatched in three hours of landrover/singletrack.

A couple of average climbs led to a brilliant descent to the road out of Crainlarich and easy trail/track to Tyndrum for before midday for a fuel stop. From there to bridge of Orchy is good quality landrover track which you make good time on.

The climb out of B of O is pretty easy apart from a little hike a bike and the descent of the other side is great fun down to the start of the old military road again.

I was in the bar with a pint by 15:45 and feeling really good, could have ridden another few hours TBH, a really fun day!

Good food and few hours sleep later the third and last day broke to a view of grey cloud and rain, joy! My decision to buy a new waterproof instead of a larger backpack and the chance to try it out allowed me to start the day positively and after another as much as I could eat breakfast I headed out into the rain, heading along to the bottom of the Devil’s staircase.

At the bottom I necked an energy gell and clambered up it in one, getting to the top feeling a bit underwhelmed, its nowhere near as hard as folk make it out to be, leaving me with good legs for the truly epic descent to Kinlochleven.

Its really rough and rocky in places with lots of waterbars but the big 29er wheels made short work of them and felt surefooted enough to push pretty hard even though everything was slick and wet. I reached KLL before 12 with a big grin on my face after a fast fireroad drop, ready for the last section and feeling good.

The hike a bike out of KLL is a friggin nightmare, I actually found it worse than the Devil’s staircase but once at the top you hit the old military road again, its much sandier and heavier going than you might think especially with the storm that kicked off as I started it. Conditions were pretty biblical from there to fort bill and its pretty damn exposed and isolated up there which was a bit of a buzz.

The descent from there is awesome, its on the old military road but its so broken up its like constantly riding over piles of bricks for about 40 mins, you can get up some proper speed and just let the bike float around under you, unintentionally scared the crap out of a few walkers on the way down.

Six or Seven miles from Fort Bill you have a short DH section through the forest and then a blisteringly quick 3 mile run on fire road with BIG two wheel drifting, mega fun if a little out of control. From then on its couple of miles of road to the finish which if I’m honest was a little underwhelming. I reached Fort William for just before 15:00, still in torrential downpours but not giving a crap 

All in all I reckon anyone with a half decent level of fitness will easily knock out the WHW in three days, if you don’t mind a couple of long days you’ll do it in two, took me just over 22 hours and I wasn’t pushing hard in the afternoons. The bike was spot on the whole way and another feather in the cap of my mega versatile Niner EMD, apart from DH there is NOTHING this bike cannot do well, full suss is completely excessive for this trip.

I would do the second day again as a day out without hesitation, its great fun. As a result of this trip I now need to plan others like its as when I had finished I was disappointed that I didn’t have another few days to ride, I love the simplicity and zoning out of riding for a few days to get to a place in a certain amount of time, the ride becomes all that matters and any day to day worries just don’t exist.

Hope this garbled nonsense encourages other to do it, it’s a blast!

Cheers to Chris (a.k.a. Sabrezx). Nice write up 🙂

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Trailquest SMBO Mountain Bike Orienteering

Mountain Bike Orienteering (MBO) is a fun off road event were YOU choose the course! The choice of route is up to you! 30 electronic checkpoints are scattered across a 60 to 100 square kilometre playing area. The winner is the person who collects the most points in a set time

When you register, you will be given your Sportident dibber and a control sheet. The control sheet is an A5 sheet has a description of the 30 checkpoints and their associated values. Normally ordnance survey maps will be in the event centre so you have have a detailed look at the contours, hills and potentially where the checkpoints maybe located.

The descriptions are all navigable features such as crossroads, trig points, aerials, etc. Each description is worth a certain amount of points. A high value checkpoint will normally be at the top of a hill or far away, whilst a low value will be easy to navigate to and close to the event centre.

The courses are designed so that complete novices can compete with the professionals. In fact it’s not unheard of for a newbie to get more points than one of the pro’s having a mechanical failure meaning they loose a significant amount of points because they are late back to the event centre.

As the start, you will clear your dibber and be given your map. The map is normally a 1:40,000 ordnance survey map or 1:15,000 orienteering map with all the checkpoints pre-marked on the map with the control number and the value (in different colours).

You now have 3 hours to get as many points as possible.

It’s at this point that you can begin to plan your route. Route choice is entirely up to you. There are no marshals to tell you which way to go. Look at the contours, look for a natural route that will take you 3 hours. It should have some escape routes or ability to collect more points. Once you get into the “zone” you will be surprised how many checkpoints you can collect.

Now you cycle to your first checkpoint. The idea is not to “hunt the punch” but for you to easily find the checkpoint. They will normally be attached to signposts, benches, gates or other easily identifiable feature.

The checkpoints are sportident control boxes like the one on the right. You can approach these on foot or on the bike. When you find the checkpoint, insert your dibber until you hear a noise and the lights flashes. The control number is automatically added to dibber.

Once you have collected as many checkpoints as you can in the allocated time, it’s time to head back to the event centre, download your results and wait for the prize giving. You never know, you may have done better than you thought!

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SMBO Rules

MBO Event Rules

Mountain Bike Orienteering is a young sport and the aim is to keep the rules to a minimum but achieve good public relations, safety and fairness.

The rules are:

1) Observe the Highway and Countryside Codes meticulously, particularly;

a) By passing walkers and horse riders slowly and courteously

b) By leaving all gates as you find them

c) By not climbing walls or hedges

2) The use of Out of Bounds paths, tracks and areas during the competition will result in disqualification from the event.

3) You must stick to the paths, tracks and roads marked on the map. The penalty for “cutting through” is disqualification from the event.

4) Ride with the aim to leave no trace so avoid skidding and leave no litter.

5) Do not do anything you would regard as cheating if done by others.

6) Teams MUST keep in voice contact (50m) at all times, including control sites and finish. The penalty for split control visits is 50% of the total score.

7) You MUST report to the finish – even if you retire.

8) The following equipment must be carried;

a) a roadworthy and well maintained bike

b) a cycling helmet – Cycling ANSI, BSI, Snell (not climbing or canoeing) which must be worn at all times

c) a first aid kit of at least a large wound dressing and bandage

d) a puncture repair kit, pump and simple tool kit

e) a waterproof/windproof jacket

f) food and drink for 3 hours

g) a whistle

h) a compass

i) a bell (to warn other trail users of your approach)

j) a mobile phone

9) Competitors must offer help to other competitors who are injured or in need of assistance. Compensation for time lost will be at the discretion of the organisers.

10) If a control is missing or located in the wrong place do not waste time looking for it. Notify the organiser at the end of the event. If this is confirmed you will be credited with the points.

11) Any dispute will be adjusted/decided by the organisers. Any appeal may/will be adjusted by the BMBO committee.

Tie Breaking

In the event of two competitors in the same class gaining the same score, the following tie breaking system will be used;

1) Greatest number of high scoring controls,

2) Visited the most check points (and back within the time limit)

3) Competitor not incurring penalties

4) Earliest starter.

Time Penalties

The penalty deductions for lateness are;

1 to 5 minutes late: 1 point per minute

6 to 10 minutes late: 2 points per minute

11 to 20 minutes late: 5 points per minute

21 to 30 minutes late: 10 points per minute

More than 30 minutes late: All points lost.

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Do’s and Dont’s

The following Info is important for anyone who rides off road, Not just beginners!!

DO
Wear a Helmet at all times.
Give way to Horses and Walkers.
Close gates if you open them.
Have your bike in good mechanical order.
Always tell someone where you are going.
Have a windproof jacket, spare tube and pump.

DON’T
Go Mountain biking alone.
Damage fences or young trees.
Drop Litter.

And most important………….Have Fun!!!!!

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Where to go?

I have always thought we are very lucky to live in the heart of the Borders, with the Tweed Valley trails on out doorstep. The 7 Stanes Glentress and Innerleithen trail centres are a great place for any one to start from. There are many hillside natural trails in the area, most marked on maps but would be ideal for someone to guide a new rider.
For more info on trails visit the Routes page. Or join our Forum to find local runs and rides
When riding the trails, be it trail centre or natural hill trails always follow the Mountain Bike code, and be respectful to other users and wildlife.

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What Bike to Use?

Bikes over the last ten years are getting cheaper and better. If you want to get into serious off-road riding you need to be looking at paying over £500 for a suitable bike. There is great value now in this price range, giving you Shimano or sram gears and a lot of alloy components. The way bike manufacturers are going lately is towards weight saving. With many of the top range bikes now weighing under 23 pounds, and the cheaper bikes under 29 pounds.
One important thing when buying a bike is what size frame you should get. Unlike road racing bikes mountain bike frames need to be smaller to give you clearance when riding off-road. The best way to do this is visit your local bike shop and try a few for size. The shop will also be able to advise you on the best fit.
People go on about needing suspension on a bike, but I feel a beginner should start on a hard-tail bike with front suspension to help hone your skills. They also tend to be lighter and easier to maintain.

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What to Bring?

There are a few essentials which you should have with you on every ride:

Water – at least one drink bottle full
Food – you use up a lot of energy while mountain biking so it’s important to refuel regularly. Bring whatever you like to eat. Fig Rolls are always popular.
Spare tube (or two) – You’re sure to get a puncture eventually so it’s wise to have a spare tube with you. It’s faster to change a tube then to patch an old one (you can patch it at home later)
Pump – You won’t get far if you can’t inflate your tyre after a puncture. Don’t assume someone else will have one
Basic tools – at a minimum you should have tyre levers and allen keys for the bolts on your bike.

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What to Wear for Mountain Biking

You don’t need cycling specific gear when you’re starting out, although proper cycling clothing will be a lot more comfortable in the long run.
The basics are: a cycling helmet, tracksuit, cycling jersey or wicking
t-shirt and a pair of trainers with grippy soles.
You should also bring a wind/waterproof jacket at all times of year, both summer and winter – as well as keeping you dry it’ll protect you from the wind on exposed hillsides.

Other things you might need are:

padded cycling shorts or tights – after a few hours in the saddle you’ll really appreciate a good pair of shorts
cycling gloves – as well a providing comfort when holding the bars a pair of gloves will protect your hands in the event of a crash. There are long and short fingered ones depending on your preferences.
cycling shoes – proper cycling shoes will have stiff soles to make pedalling easier
clipless pedals – some riders prefer flat pedals but clipless pedals and shoes can provide more power when climbing and more security when descending
sunglasses – these can protect your eyes from mud and debris thrown up by your wheels

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Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is the greatest retreat from the hassles in your life. It`s an activity that liberates you from your usual settings while providing an exhilarating form of exercise in the undeniably stress relieving and beautiful landscapes where you`re likely to be setting off to.

If you`re new to the sport the first step is an obvious one: acquire yourself a mountain bike! If this is something you want to commit to then be prepared to spend at least over £500 in order to purchase a quality, reliable piece of equipment. The value in this range is excellent and for this expense you will find yourself with a good disc braking system, good front suspension and alloy components, keeping the weight of your bike down. Distinct features you`ll notice on your bike will be the wide, high-traction wheels, bar ends on the handlebars and the smaller frame, all designed for getting over and around obstacles with greater ease and control

Disc braking is far recommended over rim braking as it provides heavier and more sustained braking power with less brake fading. While it adds more weight then a rim braking system, in decent bikes this is compensated for with alloys and improved frame geometry! Top end bikes weigh in less than 23 pounds though you certainly should be looking to keep the weight below 29. As for suspension, you could opt to spend more for a front and rear system but it`s best for beginners to break themselves in properly with front suspension only and ride hardtail for a while. This would also keep your bike weight down.

Equipping yourself with the right gear is very important in mountain biking, as one should never forget it is potentially a very dangerous sport. A good cycling helmet is essential and good trainers with high grip soles are very useful. You will probably want to invest in some padded cycling shorts as several hours on the bike seat can take its toll and gloves can help reduce friction on the handlebars. And never forget about the weather! An all-weather jacket is advisable to deal with the wind and rain and adversely sunglasses are necessary to prevent any glare sending you off a hillside.

Always have the basic repair tools on hand, such as a spare tube or two and a pump in case of tire punctures, and tyre levers and allen keys for the bolts on your bike. As for bike care off the track, you always want to make sure your bike is clean and dry in storage to prevent rusting parts, and basic oiling of the moving parts from time to time is needed to maintain a smooth running system