The loop features small jumps, ramps, raised timber trails, rock gardens and twisty singletrack trails to help newcomers face some of the obstacles to be found on forest MTB routes. All the features have interpretation signs to help riders better understand how to tackle them properly.
The launch of the skills area coincides with Forestry Commission Scotland’s ‘active woods’ campaign.
At the opening ceremony, John McBay, senior sports development offcer at Scottish Borders Council, said:
"This new loop will be of enormous benefit to the instructors who are taking out youth classes such as the Glentress Riders Kids Club, the Big Lottery Funded Fit Kids Mountain Bike Programme and the Council’s own Summer and Easter Sports Schemes. This loop will for some be the starting place for many new mountain bikers who will hopefully go on to represent their school, club or country."
The skills area was built by Forestry Commission Scotland as part of the 7stanes mountain bike project which is creating seven centres right across the south of Scotland. The Peebles Cycle Club volunteered their time to help create many of the features under the tutelage of trail designer Pete Laing from Selkirk.
Alex Maclennan is the Commission’s recreation manager in the Borders:
"As part of the continual success of the 7stanes project, education is becoming a key factor in helping to bring newcomers to mountain biking. This is the first project of its kind in Scotland and will go a long way to building up riders’ confidence and abilities.
"The beauty of the skills loop is that it doesn’t commit you to riding long distance – you can do one loop or as many as you like."
The skills area is frequently used by the Kids Mountain Bike Club run by IBD The Hub at Glentress. The club meets every Saturday.
Glentress is the flagship centre of the 7stanes project and attracts over 250 000 visitors each year.