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Scotland is such a mecca for off-road cycling now that if you’ve any interest at all in cycling you really ought to add Scotland to your bucket list. There’s plenty of information out on the web about various different areas and there are options for everyone and all abilities, especially with the increase in the popularity of electric bikes.

The advantage of cycling here in the Cairngorms is that there is such a variety of routes that you can literally take anyone out and about for any length of time.

As with all sports the routes and reports you hear about the most are made by true afficionados. You might never hear about the wee pootles you can do with the kids, or the gentle paths winding through the forests; or the sights you can include on your ride. The sheer choice of off-road track here means that you can cycle for miles without seeing a car or if you want, there are miles of quiet lanes to explore on the road bike.

Cycling in the Cairngorms

  1. Family cycling – natural trails: options include – Rothiemurchus Estate, Glenmore Forest, Speyside Way (perhaps linked with the Strathspey Steam Railway). If you’re on Strava or MTBtrails, you can probably find routes other people have ridden with some advice and details.
  2. Family cycling – the trail centres: options include: Glenlivet, Laggan Wolftrax, Learnie Red Rocks, Moray Monster Trails. The closest centre to us at the moment is Glenlivet. They have a long blue run and an even longer red run. The main disadvantage at the moment to riding at Glenlivet is that the cafe/shop is not currently operating. It was fine for us on our last visit as we didn’t have any major incidents but it was a whole lot quieter than it used to be.

Family cycling in Glenmore Forest

Half-day rides and adventures

There are so many options here from the front door and slightly further away, that our main recommendation would be to make sure you allow plenty of time to try out different choices. Maybe start with one of the trail centres to get your eye in, test your skill level, book a guide perhaps to increase your confidence.

From Boat you can try a big ride like the Burma Road, or cycle through to Nethybridge and get the steam train back (or the other way round). You can continue on to Grantown.

Don’t be afraid to explore and make sure you have a map! We have trail maps at Fraoch Lodge and there’s an excellent hire stop in the village: Ride

If you only get to Nethy, stop in at Nethy House to refuel.

If you get to Grantown, try the High Street Merchant (they’re licensed if you fancy a beer and right next door to Two Thirsty Men micro brewery).

Tying in the riding with more adventure

For the more adventurous – bikepacking adventures in the Cairngorms

This is what I see the most publicity and vibe about here in the Cairngorms at the moment, but that could just be my media bubble filtering through only articles it thinks will interest me. Bikepacking is not new. People have been doing it for years – touring with their bikes. It now has a sexy new name and new gear making better use of the bike frame for carrying equipment to make it easier for you and more streamlined.

The sheer size of the Cairngorms lend themselves to multi-day adventures – on foot or by bike, or even on horseback. Check out some of these adventures recorded on YouTube.

 

 

Recommended resources for mountain biking in the Cairngorms

Trail maps – excellent detailed maps for different routes around the Cairngorms including identified hazards and recommended directions for riding the route

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland – they have developed a guide to all the trail centres in Scotland where you can virtually ride the tracks. There’s also a lot of advice about different trails.

The best mountain bike trails in Scotland (as recommended in Singletrack)

 

10 Cycling events for 2016

In and around the Cairngorms National Park

The number of cycling events in the Cairngorms have multiplied exponentially over the past few years. The popularity of such events has also grown incredibly. Often for an event like the Loch Ness Etape, you have to book your place for the next year almost as soon as the event finishes.

cycling events in the Cairngorms

Road biking etapes and long-distance races are becoming very popular

 

Bike events are becoming more prolific. Seems like following the success of the British Olympic team, everyone is investing in lycra and heading out on a bike. Certainly here in the Cairngorms, it’s rare not to see at least one cyclist when you’re out and about. In fact, these days Aviemore almost seems to have a cycling culture. Every second shop hires bikes. Almost all the cars around seem to have bikes attached to them somehow. It’s a “healthy” activity supported by the government with investment in cycle paths, cycle lanes and cycle to work schemes.

 

Of course, you don’t have to travel all the way to the north of Scotland to participate in a cycling event. There are events happening all over the country. The advantage of coming up to the Cairngorms though is that you can enjoy your favourite sport in some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.

Details of the events

In no particular order, we’ve created a list of 10 cycling events we’ve managed to find online. Hopefully this list will make it easier for others to find cycling events and schedule them in to their calendar in future. It wasn’t easy to find all these details and sometimes event details are released quite late in the day. However, once the event has taken place a few times it tends to reoccur at approximately the same time each year. If you can’t make it this year, perhaps because you didn’t know early enough, take note for next year!

 

 

1. Rock and Road Festival

The Rock and Road festival is held in conjunction with the Glenlivet Mountain Bike trails. Details for 2016 are still limited but judging by the 2015 programme there is something for every cyclist to participate in:

 

 

Even if you don’t ride a bike, the party atmosphere could still be one to enjoy.

 

 

2. Etape Caledonia

Takes place out of Pitlochry. It is an 81 mile circuit on closed roads, climbing over 1000m along the route. It has attracted over 5000 riders per annum. 2016 will be the 10th anniversary. The event is a charity fundraiser for Marie Curie, but is a fixture in the calendars for many Scottish bike enthusiasts as it is very accessible from the central belt.

The Etape Caledonia is a popular event. Places disappear quickly. It is also a one day only event so does not necessariy mean that you need to book accommodation in the area, but you could use it as an excuse to book a few days off work afterwards and spend some time enjoying the area.

 

3. Ride Like a Grrl – September

 

Advance notice for Ride Like a Grrl, a women only mountain biking event which takes place at a slightly different venue in theCairngormsNational parkeach year. Event will run in September but details are still to be finalised.

Keep an eye on the Facebook page for details as they are being finalised now.

Cycling in the Cairngorms

On and off road cycling in the Cairngorms

 

 

4. King of the Mountains Sportive

A sportive for the fit and dedicated. There are 2 routes: 110 miles and 100km. The longer route has 3700m of ascent and passed through some of the most amazing scenery of whisky distilleries and the southern part of the Cairngorms National Park, including the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road, often closed in winter due to snow. Average finish time is 7 1/2 hours! A stunning route but not for the faint-hearted.

Starts and finishes at Aboyne.

For full details check the website

 

5. The Bikeathon

The annual Bikeathon event is a 25 mile family friendly cycling event that starts and finishes in Kingussie. Once again it’s a charity event raising funds for Chest, Heart and StrokeScotland. It’s designed as a fun day out for the family and definitely not a race. At the same time you’ll be able to enjoy the events taking place during Bikefest in Cycle Friendly Kingussie.

MTB family routes

Family mountain biking in the Cairngorms

 

6. Etape Royale

The Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale is the first and only 100 mile Closed Road Cycle Sportive inScotland. (Shorter routes are available as an introduction or for those not quite as dedicated.)

 

The Etape received TV fame when Mark Beaumont tested the entire 100mile route on a penny farthing. Amazing scenery and you’ll be jet propelled when passing through Moray’s whisky country on the fumes from the numerous distilleries you pass.

 

Put the date in your diary.

 

7 Cairn O’Mount Challenge

The two routes are very different: the shorter route is on the gentle minor roads of rural Angus with just one significant climb which is over the famous Cathertuns road and into Glen Lethnot. With a refreshment stop at the half way point, this is an ideal starter event for beginners or younger people or simply a change of scenery for more experienced riders.

The 80 mile route is a different proposition! Leaving from Edzell Muir we make our way to Fettercairn and prepare for the big climb up the steep side of the Cairn o’Mount. It’s the end of May so the snow gates shouldn’t (!) be closed.

Check out the website

 

8 Cream o the Croft Bike Festival

Not only is there an enduro mtb racing event but there’s a festival at the same time. From live music to beer tents and tasting, camping and mtb training. Racing at all levels from age 6 to competitive men plus a carnival atmosphere and loads of other events to keep the party atmosphere live and exciting.

For full details of the event go to the festival website 

 

9. International Mountain Biking Conference

The conference returns to Scotland in 2016, but will this time be taking place in the Highlands of Scotland. The events around the conference will probably focus on the area around Aviemore and Inverness. Full details have not yet been announced but it is hoped that the conference will form the climax of a week of active events. So far there has been little more than a press release from Developing Montain Biking in Scotland to set the date.

For more details read the article published in the Press and Journal

 

10. Mountain Bike Orienteering Challenge

Test out your biking and navigation skills, can you improve your times, be better than your friends and family. Try out the course designed by pupils from Kingussie High School. Drop in anytime. Bike hire available on site. Smart phone to download orienteering app

Full details here.

 

Please feel free to contact us if you are organising a biking event which takes place in or near the Cairngorms National Park, we will be happy to add it to our list of events which we hope will be the most complete list of cycling events in the area. We have chosen not to add race events and have concentrated instead on Sportives, charity challenges and family friendly events/festivals.

If you would like to extend your stay in the area or to explore more of the off-road tracks and trails around Aviemore and the surrounding villages, please feel free to contact Scot Mountain Holidays or stay at Fraoch Lodge for more input. We have developped some top facilities for cycle enthusiasts including a lockable bike store, an outside washdown area, a purpose-built drying room, good hot showers and the space to relax in front of an open fire. You can also join us for a meal in the evening if you wish. We produce good quality, home cooked food with local ingredients and are used to catering for healthy appetites.

For details of mountain biking packages with Scot Mountain Holidays.

Keep an eye on our website for details of a supported road biking package available from Fraoch Lodge, summer 2018.

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