Spin Doctor

The world’s greatest cyclists have been competing at the UCI World Cycling Championships Glasgow 2023.

Of course, the exciting action has been taking place at venues and locations across Scotland, including right here in the Tweed Valley. The world’s top mountain bikers came to Glentress this week to compete in both Cross Country and Marathon events.

The first trails at Glentress were created some 20 years ago and have long been known to the mountain biking community as some of the finest in the world, but this is the first major international competition to be hosted here.

In an event supported by Scottish Ambulance Service, the local Mountain Rescue teams and an army of volunteers and bike enthusiasts, it was an honour to be on duty at the Championships as one of two event doctors up at Glentress.

With teams from all over the world competing, I have been providing immediate medical attention to bikers who crash, wound care and primary care to all riders and support teams.

This has undoubtedly been a magnificent showcase for all types of world class cycling and biking. I’ve certainly learned a lot more about the sport! Here is a little more background about the thrilling events which came to town this week.

Mountain Bike Marathon is unique for many reasons, but the mass start – where elite riders go first, then anyone brave enough to follow – makes it special.

Elite or amateur, the distance brings a mountain of challenges… literally.

Riders have to be exceptionally fit to traverse all kinds of terrain, from speedy flats to slow climbs and everything in between. But physical prowess will only get them so far; they have to dig deep as every metre of the 100km course tests their mental toughness.

Riders will be pushed to the limit of human capability as they chew through 100km of road, gravel, punishing climbs, long descents and inhuman levels of lactic acid.

Only the strongest legs, lungs and minds will make it to the finish.

Cross-Country races look chaotic – and that’s because they are.

After a massive crowd of riders pours off the start line, rough terrain, steep slopes and mud-based mayhem is the order of the day as they jostle for position, biding their time to attack in sprint finishes that separate the wannabes from the medal winners.

Glentress Forest is legendary amongst mountain bikers for its technical climbs and fast, flowing descents. 

Given the uneven terrain, the bikes take just as much punishment as the riders. Punctures and other mechanical failures will happen – often requiring them to get off and push to a technical zone – so no lead is safe.