The inaugural Scottish Schools’ Mountain Bike Championships (SSMBCs) held at Comrie Croft in Perthshire have
been named ‘Event of the Year’ at the 2023 Scottish Cycling Awards ceremony at Crieff Hydro on Saturday 25
Three hundred secondary school pupils from across Scotland – from 37 schools in 18 local authorities – took to the
trails at Comrie Croft on Thursday 14 September as part of the new event – making it the biggest schools’ MTB
competition to take place this year.
The creation of the championships – a partnership between leading independent day school Morrison’s Academy,
Comrie Croft and Scottish Cycling – aimed 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.
Competitors travelled from Elgin, in the north, to Peebles in the Scottish Borders, with 48 female riders and 95
participants dipping their toes in MTB racing for the first time – making it a truly inclusive National Championship.
The Scottish Cycling Awards brought the cream of the country’s cycling community together to recognise and
celebrate the year’s successes. The SSMBC team faced stiff competition with the Galloway Hillbillies nominated for
their brand new road race and Zetland Park Pump Track Series also short-listed for the award. Starting with a
drinks reception, the 200 guests enjoyed a three course meal before an awards presentation hosted by Scottish
Broadcaster/Producer Rhona McLeod.
There was cause for further celebration on the night when former Morrison’s Academy pupil, Charlie Aldridge – who
captured the Men’s under 23 Cross-Country Mountain Bike title at the 2023 UCI World Championships – was
recognised as Scottish Cycling ‘Male Rider of the Year’.
Colin Nicoll, Assistant Rector at Morrison’s Academy, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to win the Scottish Cycling
‘Event of the Year’. When we started this journey our objective was to create more opportunities for young Scottish
racers to compete in grassroots competitions and give those new to the sport a chance to get involved regardless
of their experience. Most importantly, we wanted to put on an inclusive and fun event which would encourage
youngsters to keep working hard to reach their racing ambitions.
With an overwhelming level of uptake from schools and glowing feedback from pupils, teachers and parents
following the event, we are confident we achieved our goals. But we couldn’t have done this without the support of
some fantastic individuals and businesses.
We’d like to thank our sponsors – Tiso, Right Medicine Pharmacy, BASP, Endura and Tradstocks Scottish Stone –
as well as Charlie Aldridge who made the day very special for our young riders. Most importantly none of this would
have been possible without the participants, the schools and parents.”
Andrew Donaldson, Founding Director of Comrie Croft added: “We’re thrilled to have been able to play a part in the
SSMBC success story so far. Planning is already underway for an even bigger and better event in September
2024. Look out for entry announcements soon!”
Andrew McGarva, Rector at Morrison’s Academy continued: “The inaugural SSMBCs was a great example of
collaboration towards a common goal. A huge thank you goes to all those who helped to make this event a truly
memorable day of racing for our youngsters.
It was an honour to sit alongside and celebrate our incredible homegrown talent at the Scottish Cycling awards
and we were particularly proud of former pupil Charlie Aldridge who picked up ‘Male Rider of the Year’ after
showing grit and determination at his 2023 competitions.”
Morrison’s Academy pupil, Oliver Elliott (14) from S2, came in 16th place in the Senior race at the SSMBCs and
believes grassroots events like this help to give young riders the chance to take mountain biking to another level.
He said: “Mountain biking is a massive part of my life but it can be hard as a developing racer to access competitive
opportunities. Having a new MTB competition right on my doorstep is fantastic and I’m looking forward to the
challenge next year. Competitions like this encourage riders to step out of their comfort zone and learn new skills
but are most importantly a lot of fun.”
As a Trash Free Trails Community Hub, the team at Comrie Croft achieved a Trash Free Trials Approved – Gold
Standard Event, which is the highest sustainability standard. All visitors at the SSMBCs were encouraged to use
water refill stations, recycle, re-use zip ties and take litter home.