A TOTAL of 500 riders took to the hills of Glentress last weekend for the first of the TweedLove Triple Crown enduro races for 2017.

The sell-out race was met with glorious spring sunshine all weekend - conditions vastly different to last year which saw horrendous weather including the event village being destroyed by gales.

Local riders dominated the podiums, showing the strength and depth of race talent which has now emerged from the area.

A hugely disproportionate number of the UK’s top mountain bikers have grown up locally and honed their skills on the trails of the Tweed Valley – an area now widely recognized as one of the world’s top mountain bike destinations.

The overall win was taken by local rider Gary Forrest who also won the Master Men category, and a notable performance came from Team TweedLove’s very own rider Ben Balfour, who took 14th overall on the day and 2nd place in the Junior men’s category only 0.18 seconds behind the winner.

Innerleithen cycle shop owner Steve Deas took the win in the Super Vet Men’s category with the UK’s only Olympic mountain bike rider, Peebles-born Grant Ferguson, suffering a tyre puncture on stage three leaving him 16th overall and eighth in the Senior Men.

Local woman Janey Kennedy took the win in the Senior Women’s category, in a strong field of female riders.

“Of course the weather played a big part in making this such an enjoyable weekend,” said organiser Neil Dalgleish, “but it’s fantastic to see the continued growth of interest in this sport, and also to see how many people had travelled significant distances to take part.

"Almost 40 per cent of those taking part came from outwith Scotland – not bad for the first race of the season!”

TweedLove’s events are now an important tourism driver for the Scottish Borders, bringing in £1million for the local economy every year.

This year's bike festival will be headlined by the Shimano International Enduro and the largest cycle demo event and expo in the whole of the United Kingdom – to be held on Tweed Green from June 9 to 11.