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A blog round-up: Fury as Glentress girls told to get on their bikes

Written by Fiona December 06 2010

Me cycling at Glentress some 10 years ago

I have written about the mountain bike Mecca of Glentress, near Peebles, on many, many occasions. I’ve waxed lyrical about the superb network of trails, the fun parks, the cafe, hire facility and shop in newspaper and magazine articles, in VisitScotland adventure and mountain bike guides and on a host of outdoors blogs. Whenever the topic of mountain biking comes up I always recommend Glentress as a superb biking centre for the widest range of ages and abilities. I have taken lots of friends to ride the superb routes.

I’ve known about Glentress since way before the grassroots beginnings of mountain biking in Scotland. I used to run and walk there as a teenager because I grew up next door to Glentress. Then when Tracey Brunger and Emma Guy opened their Hub cafe and hire centre some 10 years ago I got to know them and would offer them as much publicity in my writing about Scotland’s great outdoors as I could. They are genuinely enthusiastic riders who wanted to offer a fantastic biking facility to all ages and abilities.

Tracey and Emma are synonymous with Glentress. They were there at the dawning of the mountain bike trails. As former world-class professional mountain bikers they know how to ride well and they offer brilliant advice about bikes and the trails. Their cafe and cakes are legendary and many other mountain bike centre cafes have aspired to be as good and as popular as The Hub at Glentress.

I have personally ridden with Tracey and Emma – and I imagine many, many mountain bikers have done the same. As well as the famous night-rides on a Wednesday, the Glentress girls offered mountain bike skills courses and guiding. They coached kids for free.

For most mountain bikers, Tracey and Emma ARE Glentress. They were the ones who were at the heart of a centre that is now seen as one of the best in the world and also claims the prestigious spot as the second most visited toursim attraction in Scotland, after Edinburgh Castle.

But then it all changed.

The Forestry Commission decided that they wanted to build a bigger visitor centre, cafe, shop and hire facility at Glentress. So they bought land, built and came up with new and grand ideas. None of this is really that objectionable (unless your home happens to neighbour the new visitor centre and car park. Or if you’re not a mountain biker, but even then many non-riders can see the benefits of a sport that keeps people fit, gets more people into the great outdoors and offers a big tourist attraction for Scotland.)

Most riders are interested in great trails, good facilities, including a hire place, a shop, a cafe and possibly showers and accommodation. The new Glentress Peel Centre offers all this and more besides.

It has allegedly cost in the region of £9 million but many argue that this will be worth the outlay because of increased tourism etc. Others argue, why the need to make Glentress bigger?… But these are arguments for another blog.

Emma Guy competing

But what many, many, many fans of Glentress are objecting to is the fact that Emma and Tracey have now been ruled out of the tendering process for running the cafe in the new centre. They did apply, just like all the others who wanted to tender for the business, but in the second stages they were told their application would not be taken forward. Understandably they are gutted. Their business has now been effectively wiped out (the business they took 10 years to build slowly and enthusiastically by gaining respect, friends and a great following). The women say that up to 30 jobs will also be lost with their business.

Now there  is a growing backlash from thousands of riders who are aghast that Emma and Tracey have been ruled out of moving into the new visitor centre.  Here I wanted to show you as many stories that are raging on the topic at the moment.

Just before offering you all the article links I think it’s only fair (and as any good journalist should) that I show you a quote in defence from the Forestry Commission when asked by a reporter at Scotland on Sunday about the news of Tracey and Emma’s failed tender bid

Forestry Commission press officer Steve Williams is reported as saying: “We understand the Hub’s disappointment, however, the tendering process is being carried out strictly in accordance with public tendering for commercial opportunities procedures.

“FCS staff will be inviting the Hub, as with the other unsuccessful bidders, to a meeting to be given feedback. This will be done once the tendering process is complete.”

I can only imagine the level of  interest in the “feedback”.

Here are a few links for you to ponder:

* Scotland on Sunday

* Cycling News

* Bike Radar

* BikeBiz

* The Hub’s Facebook

Please send me other links to stories if you see them and I’ll add them in to this blog.

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