Falkirk bike club's Finlay Gibbs goes extra mile or 31 for village challenge

Falkirk Junior Bike Club member Finlay Gibbs has been putting his pedal power to the test as part of an annual challenge in his new home village of West Linton in the Borders.
Falkirk Junior Bike Club's Finlay Gibbs taking part in his Whipman Week challengeFalkirk Junior Bike Club's Finlay Gibbs taking part in his Whipman Week challenge
Falkirk Junior Bike Club's Finlay Gibbs taking part in his Whipman Week challenge

A cycling race is usually held there as part of its Whipman Week, one of the region’s traditional festivals, but that was ruled out this years, as it was in 2020, by Covid-19 restrictions.

That didn’t stop Finlay getting in the saddle to take on an alternative challenge, though.

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The event’s organisers ran a virtual challenge instead this year, encouraging participants to do rides in their own time rather than altogether and log them on an online GPS tracking website, and the seven-year-old was not only keen to take part but determined to go that extra mile or 31.

Youngsters in the under-eight age group are only required to cycle a kilometre, but Finlay, accompanied by family friend Amanda McGibbon, of Peebles, clocked up 52.1km, or 32 miles, instead in four hours and 50 minutes.

He jumped on his bike after finishing lessons for the day at West Linton Primary School and cycled from there to Carlops, out to Romanno Bridge, across to the A72 to take in a loop of Dolphinton, then headed back via Blyth Bridge, completing the Whipman 50km Four Kirks Challenge usually reserved for adults and older children.

He was met with a round of applause from villagers and relatives as he crossed the finish line at around 8.30pm.

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His dad Ben said: “He was back at dancing the following day and racing a mountain bike on Friday night in Callendar.

“I wish I had a fraction of his energy.”

Though the family have lived in the Borders since December 2019, Finlay has kept up his membership of the Falkirk club, now almost a 90-mile round trip away taking over an hour each way, as he likes it so much, having joined up while living in Edinburgh.

“It’s a bit of a trek, and we’re sometimes out there a couple of times a week, but it’s worth it,” said Ben.

“It’s an absolutely incredible club. It’s really friendly and it’s a really good experience for the children.”