Hot on the heels of last weekend’s successful Etape Caledonia, which saw 5,000 lycra-clad cycling enthusiasts take to the scenic roads of Highland Perthshire, the North East of Scotland’s very own Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale is preparing for record numbers of entries as cyclists hang up their helmets, ice their achy muscles and limber up for their next challenge.
The popularity of road cycling is soaring to an all-time high with more than two million people UK-wide cycling at least once a week. Sales of manufactured bikes has climbed by 69%* and interest in long-distance routes continues to gather pace. The Royale’s organisers, WildFox Events, predict a big rise in registration numbers in the 100mile closed road sportive over the next few weeks.
Craig Burn, Chief Executive of Scottish Cycling says: “Scotland is a beautiful place to cycle, whether on road or off the beaten track, and the number of people choosing to cycle across the country, for sport or recreation, has grown dramatically in the past four years.
“Scottish Cycling has not only seen a growth in their 183 affiliated clubs and those wishing to enter the talent pathway, but in recreational cycling too. The number of people entering mass participation cycling events across Scotland increases year on year; Scottish Cycling had around 28,000 participants in events listed on its calendar last year alone”.
A season finale for many competitive road cyclists, the Etape Royale which will take place on Sunday 18th September is sponsored by Quilter Cheviot and supported by EventScotland. Marie Curie is the official charity partner however other charities including local initiatives along the route are also set to benefit as uniquely 10% of the registration fee is pledged by WildFox to support the communities hosting the event.
David Loudon, Quilter Cheviot Chief Executive said, “The Etape Royale is a fantastic event set in a stunning part of Scotland. Having been involved with the challenge last year we understand how it helps to support the local economy in Ballater and surrounding communities. We feel that support is absolutely crucial this year, given the impact of recent floods. Many of our colleagues, clients and contacts are keen cyclists and we want to demonstrate our shared passion for the sport through initiatives such as this.”
The 100 mile circular route which starts and finishes in Ballater takes participants through Moray’s famous Whisky Country and Aberdeenshire’s Royal Deeside. The event is undeniably challenging with nearly 3,000m of ascent in total which includes conquering “King of The Mountains” the mighty Lecht, over an alpine pass on one of the UK’s highest roads. What goes up must come down so as well the steep climbs, there are miles and miles of truly spectacular sweeping descents with panoramic views across The Cairngorms.
Wildfox Events Managing Director and event organiser, David Fox-Pitt, who has through his company’s numerous outdoor sporting challenges raised over £30million for charitable causes to date, welcomes the opportunity to bring visitors back to the Royal Burgh of Ballater, which was hit by Storm Frank in early 2016. A festival atmosphere showcasing local food and entertainment will welcome participants and their family and friends over the weekend.
David also infamously pedalled the entire route with Scottish cycling legend Mark Beaumont on Penny Farthings last year. He says, “The Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale’s route is undoubtedly a challenging one, but the breath-taking scenery along the way more than makes up for it, and we know there is a vibrant cycling community in Aberdeenshire, throughout Scotland and indeed UK-wide, who are looking to test themselves on such an outstanding route.
“Last year’s event was fantastic and this year we are building on its success with more participants signing up than ever before. What’s more, the financial benefit and sense of community an event like this brings locally should not be underestimated. We encourage participants to celebrate their cycling achievements together with friends and family and enjoy exploring the area and making a weekend of it.”
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale, as part of our ongoing commitment to cycling. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and the challenging closed-road sportive will give participants the opportunity to put their skills to the test, while taking in the spectacular scenery that the Aberdeenshire and Moray regions have to offer.”
In addition to the full 100 mile route, 65 and 45 mile options are also available starting from Rhynie and Dufftown. All routes end in Ballater. To find out more and sign up visit www.etaperoyale.com