Scotland already has a reputation for having some of the best mountain bike riding in the world, a reputation that is set to grow with the excitement building for the UCI World Championships that are coming in August. From the best downhill mountain bike riders in Fort William, to XC racing in the Glentress Forest, it is sure to be 11 days of thrilling racing. Scotland has now received another timely boost with the announcement of the world's first Mountain Bike Innovation Center, which will be based at Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders.
In what's sure to be a massive lift to the local economy, the UK Government is investing £19 million into the project as part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, a £265 million investment package in the region. It will see Caerlee Mill, the proposed site in Innerleithen being renovated and becoming the home of the new Mountain Bike Innovation Centre. Together with the proposed center, there will be a Trail Lab, and a brand new Tweed Valley Bike Park.
The Innovation Centre and accompanying Trail Lab and bike park are aimed to form an attractive package for Scottish, UK and International mountain bike brands and teams. Along with first-class facilities for developing products, the Trail Lab will allow for improved training and testing of athletes, with the new bike park on the doorstep to allow for easy bike testing and component testing.
The project is being delivered by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), alongside partners Edinburgh Napier University and Scottish Borders Council. SOSE completed the purchase of The Caerlee Mill site last year and has been working hard with partners to secure planning permission for the change of use and building renovation on a building that is an important link to Scotland’s industrial heritage, dating back to 1788.
South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) hopes the overall package will be an attractive proposition for the best MTB brands and offer a place for businesses to showcase their products in one of the UK’s leading mountain bike destinations. The Tweed Valley is already well-known by mountain bikers around the world thanks to its vast quantity of stunning trails and has hosted events like the Enduro World Series in 2021 and 2022. In August the biggest names in mountain biking will descend on Tweed Valley as the 2023 Cross Country World Championships is decided as well as a host of other rainbow jerseys up for grabs including short track and marathon MTB racing.
Preparation works are planned to get underway in the next few weeks to ensure the site at Caerlee Mill is safe and secure with the full renovation work starting in the summer. With the possibility of teams and big-name MTB riders riding in the area, it will surely attract more riders and events into the Tweed Valley and surrounding areas, boosting the local economy even more, and being seen as money well spent.