Three hundred Secondary School pupils from across Scotland are taking part in the inaugural Scottish Schools’ Mountain Bike Championships (SSMBCs) being held at Comrie Croft in Perthshire next week (Thursday 14 September 2023).
Leading independent day school, Morrison’s Academy, in Crieff is partnering with Comrie Croft and Scottish Cycling for this brand new event, which has participants from 37 schools from 18 different local authorities signed up. The creation of the championships aims to increase opportunities for young established racers to compete against peers in grassroots competitions as well as to encourage novice riders to get involved with the sport. The competing teams are travelling to the venue from as far north as Elgin all the way down to Peebles in the Scottish Borders.
Competitors will be split into three race categories – Junior (S1/2), Intermediate (S3/4) and Senior (S5/6) – with individual, female and male races, as well as a mixed team race scheduled for the day. With 300 riders taking to the trails of Comrie Croft – including 48 girls and around 95 riders making their first foray into MTB racing – it’s set to be a truly inclusive National Championship.
Andrew Donaldson, Founding Director of Comrie Croft said: “We are beyond excited to be partnering with Morrison’s Academy and Scottish Cycling to host the inaugural Scottish Schools’ Mountain Bike Championships. One of Comrie Croft’s goals is to get more people riding bikes. We hope events like this will inspire the next generation to ride, both competitively and simply as a healthy, planet-friendly way to get around.”
The debut SSMBCs are open to spectators and have been sponsored by Tiso, Right Medicine Pharmacy, Endura, BASP UK Ltd and Tradstocks Scottish Stone. Former Morrison’s Academy pupil, Charlie Aldridge – who recently won Gold in the U23 men’s cross-country at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships – will also attend to spur on competitors and hand out awards at the closing ceremony.
Andrew McGarva, Rector at Morrison’s Academy added: “We believe that outdoor education programmes bring tangible benefits to pupils; allowing them to step out of their comfort zones, build confidence, discover new strengths and passions and build new skills and friendships. This exciting partnership gives school children from across Scotland the chance to share their love of the outdoors, mountain biking, as well as giving those who are new the chance to get involved. I am also delighted that Morrisonian Charlie Aldridge will be there to meet and inspire the next generation of cyclists. We hope by experiencing a competition of this scale and meeting other like minded people that these youngsters will be inspired to follow their passions.”
Paul Newnham, Scottish Cycling’s National MTB Coach, said: “The Scottish Schools MTB Championships represent a great opportunity to introduce Mountain Bike racing to schools across Scotland, and provide young riders an opportunity to race at a great venue that’s previously hosted some of the best in the world.
“We are looking forward to welcoming riders from across the country to Comrie, and experience the thrill of racing against their fellow students and for those making their racing debut, we hope it’s the first of many such experiences.”
Morrison’s Academy pupil Ben Wipat,16, from S5, who is competing in the Senior race at the SSMBCs, believes it is opportunities like this that have helped him to discover a passion for mountain biking. He said: “Grassroots events have enabled me to progress to racing across the UK at a national level. Along the
way, I have made many new friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have known, and learned skills that I can apply to all aspects of my life. Above all, it is enormous fun and I’m so excited about having the chance to represent my school in the competition.”
As a Trash Free Trails Community Hub, the team at Comrie Croft aims to achieve a Trash Free Trials Approved – Gold Standard Event next week, which is the highest sustainability standard. All visitors will be encouraged to use water refill stations, recycle, re-use zip ties and take litter home. Its cafe and bike repair shop on site will be open to participants and spectators.