Borders-based Scottish mountain biking star and 2020 world champion Reece Wilson has teamed up with the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) to help bring more visitors to the region.

Ahead of bidding for the number one spot again at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series which starts next month, Wilson has taken on a new role as an ambassador for the SSDA to help bring more visitors to the often overlooked part of Scotland as it recovers from the impact of the pandemic.

The 25-year-old downhill mountain bike specialist from the Borders became world champion in 2020 and is ranked as one of the world’s top five riders.

Ahead of his bid to become world number one again, Wilson has appeared in a new video celebrating the Borders as part of the Scotland Starts Here campaign to promote the South of Scotland.

He  said: “I’m fortunate that I get to travel all over the world for races, but every time I come home to the Scottish Borders I have a new appreciation of the mountain biking here and this beautiful place I get to call home.

“When it comes to mountain biking, it doesn’t get much better than the Scottish Borders, it’s a world-class environment. There’s something for riders of any age and ability here, from the more technical trails in Innerleithen to the flowing family-friendly routes of Glentress.

Border Telegraph:

Wilson first honed his skills on a mountain biking course at Borders College before going on to compete all over the world. While Scotland’s reputation for wet weather is sometimes seen as a negative, Wilson says the muddy mountain bike trails in the Scottish Borders helped him become world champion and are a must-visit for mountain bikers of all levels.

“It maybe doesn’t have the sun all the time, but riding in muddy conditions actually helped me become world champion. When I won the World Championships in Austria, it was really wet and that played into my favour. Speaking to other top riders around the UK and the world, I know that a quite a few of them are keen to come and train here in the Borders and see if they can improve their skills.”

Beyond biking, Wilson is also a keen golfer and a passionate advocate of getting outside to improve wellbeing. He said: “I think everyone has to be conscious of spending more time outside for their physical and mental health. I love being outdoors, I get ants in my pants when I’m inside. When I’m not riding my bike, I spend a lot time walking and playing golf and there’s no better place to do that and get away from it all than the Borders.

“We’re losing a lot of places around the world that are like this that are so natural, untouched and green. I feel really lucky to have grown up in the Borders and have this kind of scenery on my doorstep. There are endless opportunities here to get outside and have adventures.

“I’d definitely encourage more people to come and visit the Borders and the South of Scotland. I think a lot of people come up from the south and perhaps pass through the Borders on their way somewhere north, but there’s so much to discover here – when you spend some time here it will definitely give you something back.”

“I’ve thought about moving elsewhere, but every time I come home, I realise how much I absolutely love the Borders. I’m here for life.”

Ross McAuley, chief executive of the SSDA said: “We’re proud to have a world champion living here in the Scottish Borders and flying the flag for the South of Scotland. Reece is born and bred in the Borders and is incredibly passionate about promoting the area to others. We’re delighted to have Reece as an ambassador and supporting our Scotland Starts Here campaign to help encourage more people to visit this beautiful part of Scotland, whether that’s for mountain biking or simply to get away from it all and have some adventures.”