A new closed-road cycle sportive has been announced by adventure race organisers WildFox Events of Perthshire. The Etape Royale will take place on Sunday September 27 and will start and finish in Ballater in Royal Deeside.
The 65 and 100-mile routes will take cyclists across Aberdeenshire and Moray’s breath-taking scenery, through the very heart of whisky country and Royal Deeside. There are plenty of climbs to provide a challenge for the sportive enthusiast and a 65 mile route option beginning in Rhynie that still has the King of the Mountains climb over the Lecht.
But this is no ordinary sportive. WildFox Events was founded by Scottish adventurer David Fox-Pitt in 1999. The company has pioneered some of the some of the UK’s toughest outdoor challenges, helping to raise more than £30 million for charity causes, both here in the UK and internationally. What sets the WildFox team apart is their passion for supporting local communities and charity projects and the team is working closely with the communities along the Etape Royale route to ensure the funds raised from the event prioritise local initiatives.
“The initial local response has been overwhelmingly positive and we want to continue working closely with the local communities to understand their needs and support north-east charities and causes,” David told Scottish Cycling. “We want those living on and around the route to feel a sense of ownership and pride in their involvement with the event making it a long-term success for everyone involved.”
WildFox Events has a strong charity element to all their events and know the importance of being transparent on how this is structured. Although the company has to make a living they try to be scrupulously clear on how money is raised and distributed. The Etape Royale fundraising is focussing predominantly on local north-east charities with a percentage of every participant’s registration fee being donated to a designated charitable foundation. A committee with representatives from Moray Council, Aberdeenshire Council and WildFox Events will allocate the distribution of the foundation funds to a range of charities and projects across the Etape Royale Route.
And what a rollercoaster of a route it is. The 100 mile route passes through a number of Aberdeenshire villages including Tarland, Muir of Fowlis, Bridge of Alford, joins the 65 mile route in Rhynie then heads west into Moray.
It then climbs over the infamous Lecht road and down to Corgarff before travelling south to lovely Glen Gairn and back to Ballater.
A number of roads in the Marr area will be closed for the event on a rolling closure basis allowing for fifteen minutes before the first riders arrive and fifteen minutes after the last rider leaves. More information on the route, the road closure timings and a frequently asked questions document, can be found on the Local Community section of the event website
The WildFox team are all keen cyclists themselves and the company’s Mike McCloy told us they had that in mind when they initially embarked on the plan to create such a closed-road event in the North-East.
“We wanted to launch a 100-mile cycle event with plenty of challenges and stunning scenery in a part of Scotland that doesn't have a similar closed-road event in place,” said Mike. “We chose the North-East and settled on starting and finishing in Ballater. We were all blown away by the scenery up there and have been overwhelmed with the support we have gained from the local community. This was the most important step in deciding whether or not to go ahead with this event. Aside from all the risks of setting up such a huge project, attracting enough participants and then delivering a safe and memorable event experience, we needed to know that the Aberdeenshire and Moray communities wanted this event on their doorstep.”
After a long consultative period with local groups through a series of public information evenings and council ward meetings WildFox was delighted to have debated all the key issues and found solutions to minimise any potential disruption on the day.
“Now that we have the blessing of the communities of the North-East, we are looking for the cycling community to get behind this event. We hope that they will understand why we have chosen such a stunning location and opted for the closed-road offering. We also want cyclists to understand what they get for their money and that the entry fees are fair.
“We believe this event can sit in the cycling event calendar amongst other closed and open-road events, and be an example of how cyclists, event companies, local residents and charities can come together in a positive way that promotes cycling and the local tourism economy against a backdrop of fun and respect for one another. We’re all looking forward to a great day.”
Full information on the 65 and 100 mile routes, entry fees and charity giving can be found at www.etaperoyale.com
Further details on WildFox Events can be found at www.wildfoxevents.com