GLENTRESS has been on quite a journey. Two decades ago I bashed around the rough trails with the only facilities a wee café set up by mountain-biking enthusiasts. Today I’m watching the world’s finest riders compete at Glentress in the UCI Cycling World Championships, a venue that has forged itself on to the global map.

Even more impressively, Glentress is a microcosm for southern Scotland, where two-wheeled joy is spread across some of Scotland’s finest scenery.

As riders roll in, I move behind the finish line to hear their feedback. Along with the triumphant high-fives at completing an epic nigh 100km marathon in just over four hours are a swathe of remarks about how remarkable the scenery is and how superb the course is. Scotland can rightly be proud of Glentress.

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Scotland can also be proud of biking in the Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway. Vanessa Wegstein, of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance, certainly is. As we watch the adrenaline-pumping sprint finishes, she explains: “Kirkpatrick Macmillan invented the pedal bicycle here in 1839, so southern Scotland is the home of cycling really.

And these days we’ve got world-class centres, trails and routes to cater for everyone,  from mountain biking, right through to  road cycling.”

This recent success is built on solid foundations and I’m not just talking about Kirkpatrick Macmillan. Hawick is home to Scotland’s oldest cycling club, strengthening the “Home of Cycling” credentials; through this prism, southern Scotland becomes the St Andrews of cycling.

And it’s not just the triumphant arrival of the UCI World Championships. Southern Scotland has successfully hosted the Tour of Britain multiple times and the region also has the Tour o The Borders. Kirkpatrick Macmillan himself is being celebrated at the Dumfries Museum, with an exhibition in his honour timed for the world championships.  This year the ultimate tribute has been paid to Kirkpatrick.

The National:

The Kirkpatrick C2C has been launched, a new 250-mile road cycling route that sweeps all the way across the country from Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway over to Eyemouth on the North Sea. I’ve tackled sections and really appreciate not just the scenery, but that they’ve used quieter roads while also skirting towns where you can stock up on supplies and stay over. You won’t need the frivolity of hotel beds if you want to set the fastest time, as local cycling instructor Josh Wood nailed it in just under 23 hours!

That time sounds insane to me, but an old pal of mine – and avid road cyclist and trail rider – Colin Murray, who I’ve brought along with me, stresses that it is a record that probably won’t last long, as “cyclists always like a challenge”. I’ve tempted Colin south from his native Perthshire, a well-established cycling destination.

“I should have come down sooner – Glentress is really impressive and I’ll be back to tackle the local trails and take on the even tougher ones at Innerleithen just along the road.”

Both Glentress and Innerleithen are parts of the pioneering 7stanes initiative, along with Ae, Dalbeattie, Glentrool, Kirroughtree, Newcastleton and Mabie. Borderer and former downhill world champion Reece Wilson cut his teeth on these trails, but their charm for me is that they offer something for all skill sets.

I’ve swished around the greens and blues with my family, but also really tested myself to the edge of my limits – and beyond – on the  red runs.  Over the years I’ve welcomed the new developments – at Glentress there is not only a superb café, but you can hire a bike, buy a new bike or have your own trusty steed worked on by experts. One game-changer has been the emergence of decent MTB e-bikes, which  eases my pet peeve – struggling up to the start of downhills.

The surrounding towns and village have really bought into the 7stanes. In Newcastleton, the community are positioning themselves as a cycle-friendly town – a symbol is the community-owned bunkhouse.

This morning I passed through Innerleithen en route to Glentress and it is great to see so many bike shops, bike-themed cafes and bike-friendly businesses. Southern Scotland’s  two-wheeled success has crossed over  into its gravel trails.

They made headlines earlier this year when Formula 1 star Valtteri Bottas competed in The Gralloch, finishing a credible 114th overall in a time of just over four hours for the 70-mile course. The event at Galloway Forest Park was the UK’s first-ever UCI gravel world series race, won by Connor Swift, with more than 800 riders.

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Another gravel highlight is the 16km-long Raiders’ Road in Dumfries and Galloway. From August 31 to September 3 this year, Raiders’ Gravel offers riders three sections to compete on, all touching on the Raiders’ Road.

The organisers told me they already have more than 250 riders registered. Not wanting to miss out, the Borders also has the Muck n’ Mac gravel race at Traquair.

Having worked so hard to put itself on the global cycling map, southern Scotland is determined to keep up the momentum. I hear lots of positive chat about projects at Glentress, including a new cycling route that illuminates the lighthouses of the Rhins of Galloway in the far west. The future looks bright in the Home of Cycling.