Organised chaos… 330 children, one park and a plethora of different fun ‘races’ – this was the Tweedlove Islabikes Family Day.
Under deep blue skies and with some warmth to the Scottish sun, children of all ages descended on Haylodge Park, Peebles, for an afternoon dedicated to family fun. The atmosphere was as crazy as you may imagine, as were the multitude of colours adorning the bikes and clothes of the next generation of biking blood.
The mini event village provided a hub for the hustle and bustle with Islabike’s new fleet of bikes being drooled over by many a child as their parents registered them for either the Mini Mash Up, Mega Mash Up or one of several Mighty Mash Up races. One of the lovely touches that Tweedlove do for this event is provide every child with their own pro-style number board with their name on it; these will be seen adorning bikes around the Tweed Valley for several months to come!
The approach to this day is simple; for everyone to have fun. Yes there are ‘races’ with a podium at the end, but the aim for organiser Fiona Rae was “for all children to be winners”. No matter where you looked, families and friends were having picnics, BBQ’s, rattling cow bells and just having a great day out; it bit may sound like a cliché but, bikes and cycling is just a way of life here.
You would have to have a heart of stone not to melt as the first wave of Mini Mash Up laps started. These kids, aged 3-4 and all on balance bikes, tore around a short field course with wooden plank obstacles, tyre chicanes and a cone weave. Sent out in small groups by the insanely encouraging marshals, these little shredders were grinning from ear to ear. The next step up was the Mega Mash Up, this one designed for pedal bikes and ages up to 7. The obstacles were slightly bigger but, as with all events, designed for maximum grin-inducing fun. Even at this stage, the basic level of bike skills is impressive. With four kid’s clubs in a twelve-mile stretch of valley covering all disciplines of riding, the local children are spoilt for options. When a five year old child stands on the bike, attack position nailed and then wheelies for several metres it is pretty obvious there is a lot of talent nestled in this small corner of Scotland.
Things took a step up as the Mighty Mash Up waves started. In teams of two, this was all about how many laps they could complete in a set time period. The grass course, weaving its way around the park, included sharp uphill climbs, a tricky steep chute and several long, flat out straights. The dedication and determination of the children was impressive, what was nice to witness however was the lack of ‘the competitive parent’ who can often appear at events such as these. To maintain enthusiasm through the young years, it is vital that fun is part and parcel of whatever the kids are doing, and biking is no exception. This event delivered that in spades, and for that the Tweedlove organisers and volunteers should be applauded.
To round off a superb day, underlining the unique vibe of ‘#Oor Valley’, Trek Factory Racing rider and local biking idol Katy Winton dropped by to say hi, cheer racers on and sign helmets, number boards and anything else the kids could put in front of her! The next generation of riders are going to be fast..!