East Ayrshire will host the launch of a brand new sportive cycling event and one which celebrates the achievement and spirit of a true legend of cycling, the Flying Scotsman, Graeme Obree.
Scheduled on 2 August, The Flying Scotsman sportive will offer the opportunity for the many cycling fans visiting Scotland for the Commonwealth Games road race to ride with Graeme Obree.
Anyone who has followed Graeme Obree and is familiar with his biography The Flying Scotsman, will be aware of the history of the valley with Galston, Newmilns and Darvel prominent during Graeme's early cycling days.
Obree knows these roads like the back of his hand so it is natural that he has chosen them as the route for his new event, The Flying Scotsman sportive.
Borrowing from Obree ‘s well-known archive, the routes borrow from his past achievements with the route options featuring the 44 mile Old Faithful route and at 78 miles, aptly named perhaps, The Beastie. Obree has chosen routes to offer a challenge but also allow riders the opportunity to experience the beauty and relatively quiet roads which will help add to the cycling experience.
The geography around the valley is such that there is an abundance of rural roads many which rise steeply from the valley floor and cross over the hill tops. This provides a landscape where sharp climbs and steep descents are abundant. However riders can concentrate on their ride due to the relatively traffic free environment a point taken up by Graeme.
“We are really fortunate that in and around Kilmarnock there are miles and miles of quiet roads where you can cycle until your heart is content and hardly ever see a car. When I cycled over the Old Faithful route recently, once I was off the main road, I came across three cars and a tractor in almost two hours of cycling – it was not too difficult to keep a count with such a low volume of traffic and that allowed me to really enjoy the cycle without the pressure from traffic.”
Obree has chosen the routes to provide a challenging sportive event.
“The climbs and descents are of the short to medium and sharp variety and will offer a stern test to all riders and I would strongly recommend that participants make sure they have appropriate gearing for some very steep inclines and descents.”
The routes are can be viewed on following links.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council and Chair of East Ayrshire Leisure said:
“2014 is an incredible year for Scotland and East Ayrshire. With the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles now just a matter of months away; we are all gearing up for a fantastic summer of sport.
“The Flying Scotsman Sportive will be a real highlight in the sporting calendar. It will provide cycling enthusiasts who are attending the Commonwealth Games cycling road race the opportunity to ride with a real local hero and also experience the beautiful countryside of East Ayrshire. I am very pleased that both East Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Leisure are supporting this event, drawing on a wealth of experience in delivering very successful large scale sporting events.
“I wish our Flying Scotsman every success with this project.”
All participants will need to be well prepared and bikes will need to be in tip top condition. With good preparation The Flying Scotsman sportive offers a challenging but beautiful ride over roads Graeme rides often.
The routes are laden in history. They both follow part of the Covenanters Trail and both travel right past the front door of a very famous Scot, Sir Alexander Fleming the inventor of Penicillin, who spent his young life in the hills overlooking the valley. As The Beastie reaches Strathaven it passes the home of another famous Scot, entertainer Sir Harry Lauder before heading into the moors made famous when Hitler’s deputy Rudolph Hess crash landed his Messerschmitt 110 E-1/N in 1941.
The roads also pass Graeme’s primary school and are indeed the roads preferred by the young Flying Scotsman as Graeme escaped from the town to the country on his bike cultivating a passion for cycling that is as resonant and strong now as it has ever been.
All in all riders are in for a treat provided the appropriate training is put in place and can anticipate an event with Police employed to assist the transition across the A71, comprehensive event signage, marshals on main junctions, first aid support, electronic timing, food stations, mechanical support, a broom wagon and the chance to ride with The Flying Scotsman on his favourite roads. Riders will depart in waves between 0830 and 0900 from the start at Loudoun Academy and return times to the academy will be between 1100 and 1530.