Borders College

Downhill students racing towards bright futures

The successful integration of learning with outdoor experiences is widely believed to help people to focus and reflect on their learning, as well as being good for overall wellbeing.  If you’re the type of person who benefits from flexibility in your learning and you have a passion for mountain biking, the full-time Mountain Biking programme at Borders College could just be the course for you.

Tom Wilson

Student Tom Wilson, pictured at Glentress

Led by professional coaches from the Dirt School, (set up in 2007 by Chris Ball, also Managing Director of the Enduro World Series and Enduro MTB Association) students are taught core employability skills that can be applied in future employment as well as on the competitive circuit, all framed around the concept of competitive mountain biking.  It is the only performance-based Downhill course of its kind across the whole of the UK, with other similar offerings focusing on vocation first.

Dirt School Partner and Coach Andy Barlow, himself a successful professional with a number of competitive titles to his name, says:

“The pre-planned syllabus follows the Curriculum for Excellence and also takes students right through to their game plan for competition.  The course is not just about race success, it’s academic too offering the best of both worlds.”

Students not only have the opportunity to gain vocational SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) units in subjects like Psychology and Communications, they also spend essential time developing technical and tactical skills for race success, including mindset development which is essential in devising processes for race adaptation.

Each year’s intake includes downhillers from across the UK, and occasionally from other parts of the world.  All have varying end goals, but the challenging course is a sure fire way for the more competitive riders to raise their race rankings across the academic year, in events ranging from the Enduro World Series to the World Downhill Championships.

Former students who have gone on to enjoy competitive success include Reece Wilson (now racing for Andorran team Commencal), Greg Williamson (Scottish Mountain Bike Rider of the Year 2016) and Lewis Buchanan (Scottish Mountain Bike Rider of the Year 2017).

Elena Melton, meanwhile, chose to continue with an academic focus and has begun a Sports Science degree at the University of Stirling.

The course has historically attracted a majority of male applicants, but Andy is excited to be welcoming three female riders to the course this year:

“The BASE course is designed to take existing mountain bikers that want to improve and give them the opportunity to take their sport to the next level. We provide an environment for riders to take ownership of their learning and lay the foundation for applying that knowledge on and off the trails. We’ve worked with excellent female students in previous years, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more women onto our BASE course in the future.”

Mountain biking is becoming big news across Scotland, with mass investment in its infrastructure taking place right now – Cathkin Braes in Glasgow has just undergone major development works, with Glentress near Peebles (where Borders College students undergo most of their technical training) among those set for enhancement this year.

There could be no better time to get involved – if you are a promising Downhill rider with an interest in developing your competitive abilities whilst gaining a vocational education to boot, get in touch today to find out more.

Admissions: 08700 50 51 52

Published: Tue 15th May, 2018