The Gore Bike Wear Sportive series heads to Selkirk this weekend and will give riders a taster of the best roads to be found in the Scottish Borders, with a tough 80 mile circuit that takes in the Tweed, Yarrow and Ettrick valleys.
Heading out from Selkirk on quiet back roads, the ride will follow the Tweed River upstream almost to it’s source near Tweedsmuir. Gradually climbing from a start point elevation of 120m at Selkirk, the road snakes through some marvellous scenery, past such notable heritage sites as Elibank Tower, previously home to ‘Muckle Moothed Meg’, Traquair Forest and Traquair House, the oldest inhabited dwelling in Britain. Here you can check out the Bear gates, padlocked shut until a Stuart regains the throne, or if you are thirsty pop in for some of the incredibly strong beer that is brewed on the estate.
The ‘Standard’ and ‘Classic’ distance split is at the Traquair Village cross-roads. Here the shorter route heads south over ‘The Paddy Slacks’ an easy gradient, 354m pass to Yarrow Valley and the feed station at the Gordon Arms Hotel. The 80 mile Classic option continues west along the Tweed Valley through Peebles to the first feed stop at Beggarpath Bridge and on past Stobo Castle, the famous Dawyck Gardens and on to join the A701 for a gradual climb to Tweedsmuir. Watch out for fast motorcycles on this stretch.
At Tweedsmuir the route turns south via Talla Reservoir (The dam is a fine example of Victorian engineering in the ‘Scots Baronial’ style) towards the rolling hills of Yarrow, but before you get there, a minor obstacle awaits; the infamous 25% climb up the slopes of Fanna Hill to the Megget Stone, probably the steepest road in the south of Scotland. The reward for 15 mins of slow-motion pedalling up to an elevation of 450m, is a long, fast spin alongside Megget Reservoir, St Mary’s Loch and the Yarrow river before turning south for the second big climb of the day, ‘The Berrybush’. Just before you start uphill, at the Gordon Arms Hotel junction you will find the 2nd feed stop of the day and this is also the point where the Standard course re-joins The Classic/>
The ‘Berrybush’ is another easy gradient pass that tops out at 376m, before dropping down to Tushielaw in the quiet Ettrick Valley. The descent is great fun but please be aware that sheep will be wandering about on the road. From here it’s a blast back to Selkirk on the B7009, a fantastic swoopy road with good tarmac and loads of short, big-ring rises. Those with reasonably fresh legs will have a ball on this smooth, valley-floor B road. Two notes of caution: please check your speed going through Ettrickbridge and on the way down to the ‘T’ junction with the B708 in Selkirk.
We’ve added the route map (just to give you an idea on the course) and the profiles to the website.
Enter now at www.mtb-marathon.co.uk/sportives/sportives.php