After winning the Pro Stage and placing third at the 2022 EWS Tweed Valley, former DH racer and Tweed Valley local Innes Graham is set to compete in future rounds of the Enduro World Series thanks to support from local businesses and brands.
If you follow the Enduro World Series, you’ll know that one of the big stories from the first round in the Tweed Valley, Scotland, was centred around Valley local Innes Graham. His incredible performance coupled with the scale of support he received from the crowd, was seriously impressive.
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If Graham’s name is already familiar to you, it could be because you’re also a Tweed Valley regular, or he’s coached you, or you know his photography…or through his former career as an elite downhill MTB racer on the World Cup Circuit. After a bad crash at Lenzerheide in 2016, he left downhill, and has since been gradually reconnecting with his love of mountain biking through coaching with Dirt School, photography, and enjoying some of the best trails Scotland has to offer.
With the EWS returning to the Tweed Valley as the 2022 season opener, Graham’s intention was to enjoy the experience, take his learnings to share with younger riders especially students at the BASE programme – the Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence.
“The goal was always to show up, ride within myself and learn as much as possible about this discipline to help guide and coach younger riders as best as I can to allow them to achieve their own goals,” he said.
The result probably wasn’t a surprise to anyone who’d ridden with Graham, but made a splash on the international enduro scene. Graham thundered into first position after the Pro Stage, placing him as fastest rider and last man down the hill for the main event. Racing against seasoned enduro pros like Richie Rude, Jesse Melamed and Martin Maes, Graham held his nerve to place an incredible third place and a spot on the podium.
So what next? With results like that, it would be a shame not to continue the adventure.
“After an insane first EWS at home in the Tweed Valley my sights have quickly set on the next few European rounds,” shared Graham.
But as a privateer, without the support of a team and sponsors to organise and help pay for everything, not to mention the logistics, competing in an international event series can be tricky. Fellow countrywoman Katy Winton’s experiences last year, charted on her YouTube series, opened many people’s eyes to that.
The power of community
Thankfully for Graham, the Tweed Valley mountain bike scene is an incredibly strong, supportive community, and people, brands and companies rallied round with support.
Dirt School gave Graham the time off, Tweed Valley Bikes coordinated the logistics of getting him out to the next round in Petzen Jamnica in Slovenia.
“When Innes finished his first EWS on the podium, my thoughts quickly led to working out how we would get him to the next round of the series,” explained Janey Kennedy of Tweed Valley Bikes. “Innes puts 110% into everything he does, whether that be as an employee, a coach, a photographer/videographer or as a racer, so to let his latest path flourish, it was time to create this new opportunity for him, one he truly deserves.”
No. 1 Peebles Road, a beloved coffee shop in Innerleithen and regular haunt of many a mountain biker, was one of the first to step up and offer financial support to help cover travel costs.
“We met Innes as a young racer when he moved to Innerleithen. He was like my lost son. He worked with us for a year and a half, he is just the sweetest, kindest and most thoughtful person,” explains Craig Anderson, proprietor of No. 1 Peebles Road. “We wish him all the best racing in the Enduro World Series.”
Also stepping up to the plate were Hotlines, the Nukeproof global distributor who are based in nearby Edinburgh. Hear of Marketing for Hotlines, David Flynn, said the company was happy to provide support.
“Innes absolutely smashed his first EWS and it was awesome he was on one of our bikes,” comments Flynn. “We are super grateful for what he does day-to-day for the local scene and admire his journey and motives for getting out there. We had to show some support.”
What’s clear from all of the above is that Graham is a rider that has made a big impression on his local community, and is focussed on inspiring the next generation of riders. His experiences, the highs and lows of racing, and the support he garners, all make for an incredible story with a very human, relatable heart.
“A huge thanks to everyone who supported me [at the Innerleithen round of the EWS]. Let’s keep the momentum rolling and see what the next couple of weeks have in store!”
The crowds at the Tweed Valley cheered him on at the start of June, and you know they’ll be cheering him on loudly this weekend too.