Glentress World Championship Course Demolition Upsets Riders

The world-class course built for last month's World Championship mountain bike race at Glentress has been demolished, leaving riders and business owners frustrated. Officials say this was the plan all along.
Photo: Forestry and Land Scotland Facebook post.

They say that all good things must come to an end, but that isn’t stopping riders from voicing frustration about the fate of the 2023 Glentress UCI World Championship course. Following the race last month, officials with Forestry and Land Scotland began removing many of the iconic trail features as part of a master plan for the park.

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland recently shared a lengthy blog post about the situation. “We have been asked many questions around the lasting legacy of the UCI events at Glentress and why some of the features created for the event have been removed,” they wrote on Facebook today.

According to the post, the UCI World Championship cross country course, constructed ahead of the race, was always meant to be temporary. In addition, the land manager — Forestry and Land Scotland — deemed many of the features to be too dangerous for the general public from a risk perspective. Looking at photos from the race, like the one posted by Peter Sagan below, many features were clearly designed to be challenging even for professional mountain bikers.

Some local business owners and tourism boosters had hoped the World Championship course would attract visitors to the area, which already boasts a popular ride center.

“I have personally turned away tourists who came to ride the course but couldn’t find it because it’s not there anymore,” wrote someone associated with the Riders Retreat Tweed Valley Facebook account. “Will they leave disappointed never to return? Probably. This was a once in a life time opportunity.”

Forestry and Land Scotland wrote in late August, “over the next few weeks, the temporary UCI event-specific trails and features will be removed.” The post continues, saying “Trails and features that were built especially for the UCI events, although fit for the purpose of challenging the skills of high-level professional and elite athletes, were designed to be used on a temporary basis. These trails don’t meet the design requirements or build standards needed for the sustainable trails featured in the Masterplan and will be deconstructed and repurposed or recycled.”

It’s not unusual for trails and features to be constructed specifically for a mountain bike race or event and later removed. The first ever Olympic mountain bike race course, located outside Atlanta, is still open for riding but looks nothing like it did for the race in 1996, having undergone many reconfigurations and changes over the years.

Still, that doesn’t take the sting out of seeing all the hard work put in by trail designers, builders, and volunteers who contributed to the world class Glentress World Championship course.

As one Facebook commenter put it, “The so called ‘legacy’ of this event is in tatters and it’s farcical to suggest anything otherwise.”

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