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Friday, July 18, 2014

Borders on track for mountain bike conference

Commonwealth Games cyclist Grant Ferguson will share his experiences of mountain biking in Scotland with hundreds of delegates from around the world at a major conference heading for the Scottish Borders.


The full programme for the Scottish Mountain Biking Conference 2014 – International Edition, which is supported by the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund and Scottish Borders Council, was unveiled at Peebles Hydro.


It is estimated the event, which will be attended by more than 200 mountain biking experts from the likes of New Zealand, Whistler in Canada and across the UK, will generate more than £250,000 for the economy.


Swiss cyclist Hans “No Way” Rey, known as the world’s foremost adventure rider, will also be speaking at the event, which takes place at the Borders venue from 11-13 November.


As well as speeches and workshops, the conference will also include a number of field visits throughout Scotland, including the Scottish Mountain Bike Centre at Glentress, the World Cup trail at Fort William and the Commonwealth Games trail at Cathkin Braes in Glasgow.


Among the topics on the agenda will be the ongoing development of mountain biking tourism and the main issues facing the industry, with the overall aim to highlight the quality of mountain biking in Scotland to an international audience.


Mountain biking is worth £49.5 million a year to the Scottish economy from visitors whose main reason for visiting is to ride and £130m from those who enjoy mountain biking as part of their stay in Scotland.*


The conference is headed up by Graeme McLean, Project Manager at Developing Mountain Biking for Scotland, part of Scottish Cycling.


Graeme said: “Scotland is one of the best locations in the world to go mountain biking. We have fantastic facilities for visitors, and Scottish people, with more than 30 purpose-built trail centres spread across the country and our access laws which allow us to responsibly ride most trails and paths across the country. Scotland is a key mountain biking innovator in terms of trails and facilities development, skills progression and sustainable development however we are interested in learning best practice from around the world and bringing it to Scotland. We believe that the conference will help this growing sport reach its full potential.”


Kerry Watson of VisitScotland’s Business Tourism team said: “Mountain biking is hugely popular in Scotland, and its popularity will only continue to grow following the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Combining stunning scenery with state-of-the-art facilities, the Tweed Valley is a natural choice for this international conference, and we are delighted to help make this exciting event possible through the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund.”


Grant Ferguson said: “I am delighted to be announced as a speaker at the Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland Conference, particularly as it is the international edition. I grew up in Peebles and fully appreciate the world-class trails on offer in the Scottish Borders. I have also ridden and raced my bike across the world, and have a wide range of experiences to share with the Scottish audience. To be asked back to my hometown to speak about the events I have participated in, including the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, is a real honour and I am thrilled to be involved in the conference.”


Stuart Bell, Executive Member for Economic Development at Scottish Borders Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome the mountain bike world to the Scottish Borders and support this international conference. We are undoubtedly one of the best locations in Scotland to mountain bike and our 7stanes Glentress trail centre, based next door to the conference, is one of the busiest trail centres in the world. We are convinced that delegates will enjoy their experience in the Scottish Borders and the conference will help build our growing worldwide reputation.”


Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland’s outdoor sports industry is an important part of our overall economy, and with the country’s abundance of scenic landscapes and natural beauty spots it is no surprise why people are drawn to Scotland for pursuits such as mountain biking.


“The Scottish Mountain Biking Conference is a great example of how the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund has been instrumental in helping to attract prestigious, high-yield, high-spend international conferences not just to Scotland’s cities, but also to our towns and more rural areas, making Scotland as a whole more competitive within the international conference market.”


For more information or to sign up to the conference, please email or visit: *


Research carried out by the University of the Highlands and Islands, commissioned by Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland.