The Etape Caledonia is an 81 mile cycle challenge that took place on traffic-free roads in the stunning scenery of Highland Perthshire. This year three ERNs (Fraser Paterson, Alan Reid and Denise Hamilton) along with 4,000 others took part. Thankfully the weather stayed dry but it’s a humply route and a real challenge. Nevertheless, some fantastic times posted and you can read how they got on below:-
For details on what a cyclo sportive is, click here
For the website and details on the event, click here
For a map of the route, click here
For a profile of the route, click here
Fraser said: “Etape Caledonia weekend, wow! The weather was in mind all weekend: “Will it rain? Will it be sunny”? In the end it was a lovely day, you know the ones that are cool but not cold to start, then cloudy and fresh throughout. Perfect. I started at 0700hrs, early! The group was fast and as I was not warm, blood engorged my legs. I couldn’t keep the 30mph pace so dropped back to the next one, no shame as it was a very fast day indeed. I loved it; well mannered cyclists working together to keep the train moving. It was absolute exhilaration. Then came the headline climb. And cramps….argh. This made standing climbing impossible; even sprinting up short hills wasn’t on the cards. I kept going, and after a wee stretch and a bottle of water things became a little better. I found the last 30miles with no group very hard to maintain 22+mph on the flats and it was a real challenge. The steeply rolling terrain of the last five miles was tough but my cramps eased and I cut through the field again, but then with one mile to go the cramps came back hard. Not the sprint finish I envisaged but still a good day and a satisfying achievement. I will remember the 40+mph of the Schiehallion decent for a long time but mostly the speed of the large closely pack groups was the best fun. Thank you Tracy for supporting me and being my team manager this weekend”.
Denise said: “Hi, sounds like Fraser had quite a different experience to us! We had a nice wee day out spinning along about 16 mph and stopping for our picnic on the way! It was a great day though, beautiful scenery and just amazing to cycle without cars, I would definitely recommend it.
See you soon
Tracy said: “Whilst Fraser and his teammates were tackling the route with their roadbikes, I scouted out an 8 mile running route to replace the one I missed today. Having bought a local walking leaflet, I found a route that started at Moulin (about a mile north of Pitlochry) and followed a circular route past Killicrankie and back to Pitlochry. Perhaps distracted by Fraser’s immense challenge, I failed to notice the small print on the upper right hand corner of the page, mentioning “height climbed: 1500ft/450m”. Before I realised, I was half way up Ben Vrackie heading off towards Bealach na Searmoin. However keeping up with my tendency to rename running route features, I christened the almighty hill before me “Ben Murdo”. “Ben” because (although it wasn’t) it certainly felt like a mountain, and “Murdo”, quite obviously paying homage to our friend and his acute fondness of anything ‘humply’. The right knee was not terribly happy with my choice of terrain, but it soon forgave me when we embraced the spectacular views along the scenic route (with one exception of the path crawling under the A9 and emerging the other side with one’s head only a few feet from the crash barrier). This run was quite a contrast to my usual chatty/social Sunday runs with friends, having encountered only the very occasional walker, and herds of sheep and lambs. But it was well worth it. I made it back in plenty of time to proudly witness Fraser roll over the finish line with a smile on his face and an eagerness to plan the next cycle challenge. Well done to all who participated in this immense challenge!