Sponsored by Edinburgh Napier University
We know that Scottish mountain bike businesses are amongst the best qualified and most professional tour operators, guides, skills instructors and coaches in the world. This award celebrates all of the above.
Neil Wilson set up his business, ‘Off The Grid MTB’, in May 2016 within the Central Belt of Scotland. He had 30 years mountain biking experience and 7 years coaching experience at a local bike club. During his time as a coach, he has coached all ages and abilities, however, he realised that there were many people that the local clubs could not support and provide the opportunity to get into cycling. He also wanted to change attitudes within mountain biking, promoting the sustainable and responsible use of the trails and the appropriate riding etiquette. The places we can ride our mountain bikes deserve respect, we must be self-sufficient and sympathetic to the environment we find ourselves in.
His mantra is to “expand peoples’ horizons” and go ‘off the grid’ whether that is geographically or to push personal boundaries - there are so many possibilities for those who ride mountain bikes, whatever their abilities.
RIDELINES Mountain Bike Tuition Ltd
Ridelines are a mountain bike tuition company based in the Tweed Valley, Scotland. Started by Andy Weir started in 2011 with the goal of bringing his passion for mountain biking to people who lacked the confidence or ability to take their riding forward. It was simply a dream of his to take the sport he enjoyed and make a living from it. Something everyone can all relate too.
Seven years later Ridelines is one of the most respected businesses in this sector, catering from everything from family based orientation days to coaching hardened riders on the valleys most challenging trails. Since those beginnings, Ridelines have 8 handpicked male & female mountain bike coaches and leaders working to deliver their courses and qualifications. Female coaches and staff members making up over 50% of our number.
Ridelines is based in Innerleithen, the spiritual home of Scottish MTB and Since their beginnings, they have been inseparable from the Tweed Valley MTB scene. At one time or another, they have contributed and donated time to almost all of the local cycling clubs and organisations from the early days of the Bike Patrol, right up the present day with groups like Tweed Valley Riders, Tweedlove and DMBinS. Ridelines is not just for the elite and experienced. They run kids camps in the school breaks, family experience days all year round and even team building days for “corporate” groups offering staff incentives and rewards. Where delivering a tailored mountain biking experience in the Tweed Valley is concerned, Ridelines is amongst the very best equipped.
They are now one of Britain’s highest delivering centres for British Cycling’s Mountain Bike Leader Award at all levels. These awards deliver the tools to enable riders to lead groups in different terrain safely and confidently. Years of experience in delivering both the training and assessments for these awards make their tutors and instructors experientially qualified to teach as well as having all the required qualifications to do so.
H+I Adventures was established in the Highlands of Scotland in 2007 by Euan Wilson and Catherine Shearer, from a shared passion for mountain biking and mountain biking travel. Having spent years exploring the Highlands by bike and also travelling abroad to ride, they realised that there must be a better way to travel than having to do all the map-reading, trail finding (or not, as the case may be) and accommodation searching for yourself. That was the seed of the idea that led to the birth of H+I Adventures. In the early years they offered guided mountain bike tours across the Highlands, and after many successful trips and happy clients who kept asking “Where next?” we decided to expand our offering to other, equally exciting destinations across the globe. Around that time, we also made the firm decision to focus exclusively on guided mountain biking adventures. We don’t do self-guided, we don’t do road cycling or touring, we only specialise in mountain bike tours guided by exceptional local guides in each destination. We’ve now grown to 15 tours in 12 destinations around the world, with a significant proportion of our business still based in attracting mountain bike enthusiasts to Scotland.
Real World Riding
Real World Riding aims to support encourage and enthuse mountain bikers at all levels, as well as to support groups and organisations using mountain biking as an activity. It began as (and still is) a small business focused on supporting the development of confidence in others.
The business aims to develop personal confidence in any client in order to help them develop.
The business began as a website and social media outlet which encouraged ordinary riders to recognise that the pressures they face are universal – the balance of work – family – riding is something that most riders have to deal with. The sites then aim to encourage participation, inform all riders about developing confidence, inform participants from beginners to intermediary riders with articles about all aspects of mountain biking, and then offers support both through social media engagement, and with guided and coached opportunities for development – all with the proviso that confidence is the key to development.
Real World Riding now utilises social media engagement, technical advice and coaching and guiding to engage individuals, groups and organisations.
Off the Grid MTB
I set up my business, ‘Off The Grid MTB’, in May 2016 within the Central Belt of Scotland. I had 30 years mountain biking experience and 7 years coaching experience at a local bike club. During my time as a coach, I have coached all ages and abilities, however, I realised that there were many people that the local clubs could not support and provide the opportunity to get into cycling. I also wanted to change attitudes within mountain biking, promoting the sustainable and responsible use of the trails and the appropriate riding etiquette. The places we can ride our mountain bikes deserve respect, we must be self-sufficient and sympathetic to the environment we find ourselves in.
My mantra is to “expand peoples’ horizons” and go ‘off the grid’ whether that is geographically or to push personal boundaries - there are so many possibilities for those who ride mountain bikes, whatever their abilities. There are so many people that would like to ride a mountain bike, whether this is as a new rider or someone wanting to get back into the sport after a period away. I also continue to provide coaching and guiding for competent mountain bikers, showing them a different side to the sport while providing fun within a learning environment.
I offer kids, youth, women specific and family sessions, in an attempt to get everyone involved. Women are often deterred from going to coaching sessions, given the perception that this is a very male orientated sport. As such, the women only sessions have been very well received. The family sessions were great for a whole family to get out on their bikes and get some coaching. I believe no other provider offers this. I also run no profit ‘active schools’ sessions, which again, allows those kids who are eager to participate in / try this sport, but perhaps do not have the opportunity to do so.
I have just finished some sessions at a local school whose pupils have various disabilities. At the start of each year the children set out goals for the year. For one boy, who suffers from a condition which causes profound impairment to hearing and sight and causes issues with vertigo and balance, his goal was to be able to ride a bike on two wheels. After two sessions we achieved his goal!
This year I changed my summer school holiday trips to include a family trip. These trips involved some fantastic mountain biking, a canoe trip and a wild camping experience. The trips offered parents the opportunity to experience and share some very special moments with their children. Everyone who signed up and came along fully embraced what I hoped to achieve, which was to provide a wild adventure - trail riding away from trail centres and exploring a wild environment, living ‘off the grid’ and ‘expanding their horizons’.
Dirt School Ltd
We started Dirt School in 2007 because at the time there was limited opportunity for regular enthusiasts to access good quality coaching. Our aim is to not only work with the top-level riders in our sport, but also to allow regular enthusiasts to enjoy their escapism to the best of their ability.
We’ve always tried to do everything to the highest standard that we can. Along the way we’ve worked with Borders College to create a performance based academic course, Edinburgh Napier University to create a mountain bike coaching app on two different platforms, made strong links with local businesses, and tried to raise the standard of mountain bike coaching in the UK to a standard previously nonexistent.
In the ten years that Dirt School has been in business we’ve created the BASE course through Borders College, released a smartphone app that has now been downloaded over 10,000 times, had to invent our own vocabulary in order to describe complicated techniques and postures to our clients, contributed to over 100 issues of one of Britain’s best known MTB magazines, and worked with over 5000 clients locally.
The excellent team of coaches that we have been proud to work with along the way. Every one of them brings their own unique level of experience and perspective to the company.
We would like to be heavily involved in seeing Scotland at the centre of the MTB scene in the UK and believe that we have the expertise and experience to make it happen.
Air Maiden coaching was started in Spring 2016 after I returned to Scotland from Canada. I had been running womens’ events both in Scotland and Canada since 2008 and latterly had been coaching and guiding in Canada. I decided to start offering women’s specific coaching in the Tweed Valley aimed at beginners up to advanced riders as I saw an increase in women’s participation in the sport and felt that with Air Maidens reputation for its flagship event, I could expand into coaching across the country
Air Maiden freeride event has just taken place for the 7th year, which attracts over 60 women and 12 girls from across the UK. We also run the UKs first EVER womens specific enduro race in 2016 and again in 2017 which attracted 70 women to Innerleithen for a one day 3 stage enduro. We have organized and run women’s coaching days at a variety of trails centres and venues across the UK from Chicksands in the South of England to Laggan in the Scottish Highlands providing high quality coaching to well over 100 women. We also provided a number of small group and private clinics to women who want to work on specific skills at a specific level of riding and we now have a team of 5 coaches with huge amounts of experience both riding, racing and coaching across various disciplines and at various levels.
We are different from other similar outfits in that we have an all female coaching crew, have been riding for a long time, know the kinds of issues that women face in biking and know what works in terms of progressing their skills. We also have some of the only coaches in the country who can confidently coach advanced skills such as jumps, drop offs and steeper technical terrain and we pride ourselves on the fact that we are all experienced and skilled riders in our own right.
We coach advanced skills really well and do not shy away from this end of the market. Our freeride event and jumps courses are testament to the success we have had in getting women to try these often intimidating areas of the sport. Both our events have successfully encourage participation in races and events which many women previously would not have though of. Our grassroots events give women the confidence and skills required to take their riding to the next level, whether that’s entering their first full enduro race, or riding more technical terrain on holiday.
Winner - Scottish MTB Provider of the Year 2016 - H&I Adventures
H&I Adventures – Scottish MTB Provider of the Year 2016
H+I Adventures was established in the Highlands of Scotland in 2007 by Euan Wilson and Catherine Shearer, from a shared passion for mountain biking and mountain biking travel. Having spent years exploring the Highlands by bike and also travelling abroad to ride, they realised that there must be a better way to travel than having to do all the map-reading, trail finding (or not, as the case may be) and accommodation searching for yourself. That was the seed of the idea that led to the birth of H+I Adventures.
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