Sunday, 28 May 2017 09:45

Etape Loch Ness Featured

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I heard the excitement in her voice, Well as much excitement as a Yorkshire accent can actually convey, "A closed road sportive around Loch Ness, I've got to do that." Problem was the only spaces available were charity and I don't get why people should sponsor me to enjoy myself so I didn't fancy it but Julie being new to proper cycling ie road it was still enough of a challenge to warrant it. So in the depths of a Scottish spring we made our way to Inverness.

I'm going to make a confession here. I sort of forced Julie into road cycling by signing her up to last years Velothon. She was recovering from a broken ankle and I thought it would be motivation for here to get training when she lost the pot. I also had the evil thought that I'd be a lot faster and better than here, thus looking awesome and sexy and stroking my ego. To be fair she went out and got herself a decent roadbike which although having stupid "sissy" brakes and a triple chainset is lovely, although in no way as good looking as mine. A wet Welsh spring did nothing to help her training but soon the date of the ride was upon us and we set off to Inverness.

It's a long way from South Wales to Inverness but the thought of Irn Bru and single malt get me going. The event hub in Inverness was small but pleasant without too many stalls trying to part you from your hard earned cash and Inverness itself is a lovely city. We camped just outside the town and apart from the Morons in the next tent having too much to drink had a good nights sleep.  certainly enjoyed the view whilst giving Julie's bike a final once over, clean and lube.

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Staring out at 6am is always hard but in Scotland in April? I was half glad I was only on press duties and not riding. As Julie set off I wondered over to get a coffee and a haggis based breakfast. I wondered around for a bit had another coffee getting more and more bored and as the first few riders started to come in I came to my senses. I should be riding. This was Loch Ness, one of the best roads I'd ever driven on and it was closed!! What's wrong with raising a bit of cash for charity, as long as what I raised didn't cover my entry fees and I paid for that myself it would be fine. As much as I love a press tabard, I look far better in lycra.


Riders came in in a steady stream and we saw all types. Full on club roadies, wannabe pros, Lance fanboys, mountain bikers looking rather silly on a proper bike, clearly unfit first timers who you could see loved every moment, old boys on steel framed audax bikes that have had more love spent on them than most children and Batman and Robin on a Tandem. All the riders were met with a great atmosphere whipped up by the tannoy announcer who somehow kept up with naming most of the riders crossing the line.


 One thing that many of us as riders sometimes overlook is the importance of the volunteers who marshall these events. Whilst we race around pretending to be Cav or Sagan these guys, many of whom have no knowledge or interest in cycling keep us safe, fed and well looked after. So Thank You to all those that volunteer. Without you guys none of these events would happen.

So what about the route itself. Well I wasn't allowed out on the route itself so I can only rely on what I've been told. Oh come on who am I kidding???? This is a route around Loch Ness it's going to fantastic. I've been told that there was quite the crowd lining the route especially outside the hotels, many of which were cut off by closed road for hours.

The top of the King of the Mountain Climb, 4.8 miles, 380 metres of ascent and reaching gradients of 12%, was annouced by a bagpipe player and remarkably this didn't annoy anyone. If anything speaks for the quality of the route then this does.

So yeah I'm jealous. I'm not designed to be a bystander in this type of event and as I watched Julie fly around the final corners in to the finish a lot earlier than I expected her I had a frightening thought. She's getting better at this, she may get faster than me. I'd best get training......

Julie Vine MyOutdoors 2 Picture courtesy of Tricker PR


If you fancy riding Etape Loch Ness in 2017, I certainly do, then you can register your interest at the following link.


Thanks to Eoin Smith of Tricker PR for all the help during the event.

Last modified on Saturday, 12 August 2017 11:44
Stu Thomas

A former bank worker now working for a major national outdoor company Stu is an avid mountain and road cyclist and tests kit for MyOutdoors around the BreconBeacons and South Wales. As a member of South Wales Mountaineering Club stu, along with partner Julie (who also tests for us) also both climbs and walks. When not tearing up mountain bike trails Stu can be found on the road either commuting by bike or taking part in muscle draining sportives in the Peak District.

With his retail experience and insight Stu is able to help us with real time buying trends and reviews based on a wide range of kit for comparisons. Stu has also started writing for MyOutdoors Blog, first documenting his "conversion" to a road cyclist and soon to be reliving some of his recent cycle tours that have taken in both the Balkans and Estonia/Latvia. You may even be able to pick him out in photos of wild camping in Magillicuddy's Reeks on the site - Stu gets around!

Preferred activities: Hillwalking ,mountain biking, road cyclingg, climbing, skiing

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