Photo MW Photography
Cyclists enjoyed the best cycling conditions that Britain can offer at the Etape Caledonia yesterday, 18th May. Cycling on closed roads is a luxury rarely experienced, and double the number of last year’s riders took the opportunity to enjoy 81miles of challenging Highland Perthshire terrain.
Amongst them were Mark Beaumont, the fastest man to cycle around the world, Aggie Mackenzie, TV’s Queen of Clean, who was riding for charity Action Medical Research and members of the British Alpine Ski Team.
The fastest riders on the day were two Aberdeen team mates riding for the Granite City club. Veli Raikkonen and Alister Watt crossed the line together after 3 hours 38 minutes, having worked together throughout the ride. Raikkonen said: ‘Ali and I had a game plan to work together all the way round. We started two minutes behind the first group and caught them quite quickly.’
‘We got away for a while but were caught by a group until we got to a hill and we managed to split it up. A few guys stayed with us but we put the boot in on the final climb. The last five miles were really hard. The crowds all the way around were brilliant; they were enjoying the sun and really cheering us on.’
Lara MacLean was the fastest woman. The 38 year old Glaswegian finished in 3 hours 56 minutes. She said: ‘I got into a group and found the guys were leaving me at the front a few times! It was a fantastic event and a lovely route. It was never my aim to be the fastest woman and I’m delighted.’
Starting from Pitlochry, riders skirted Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel, ascended the Schiehallion and returned to Pitlochry having climbed a total of 1,949m.
However, the real story was the number of ordinary cyclists who completed the challenge, enjoying breathtaking Scottish scenery in a controlled professional cycling environment.
Event Director, Kevin Stewart said: ‘It was fantastic to see Highland Perthshire so busy over the weekend with thousands and cyclists and their families, who all got to see the area at its best with the bright sunshine. From the surveys we did on the day people are excited to return, and we are looking forward to launching the 2009 event very soon.’
Full ride details at www.etapecaledonia.co.uk.