Time to get back in sad­dle

It’s nearly time for the Etape Cale­do­nia. With a hand­ful of places still avail­able, this is the last chance to book a place on one of the UK’s most amaz­ing closed road cycling events, Jack McKeown says

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - jm­ck­e­own@the­courier.co.uk www.etapecale­do­nia.co.uk

On the morn­ing of Sun­day May 21, High­land Perthshire will be filled with the whirr of wheels as thou­sands of cy­clists get up to speed for the 11th Marie Curie Etape Cale­do­nia.

With around 5,000 rid­ers tak­ing part, it’s a spec­ta­cle that draws crowds from all over Scot­land – as well as some of the UK’s most tal­ented ath­letes.

This year’s event con­tains some no­table firsts.

There’s a pasta party on the Satur­day night for par­tic­i­pants to load up on en­ergy-giv­ing car­bo­hy­drates to carry them through the 81-mile course.

A se­ries of Etape Talks are also be­ing held the day be­fore, with in­dus­trylead­ing ex­perts shar­ing their thoughts on cycling, fit­ness and the race.

Olympic leg­end Chris Board­man will be among those giv­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion and is also tak­ing part in this year’s event.

The Olympic gold medal win­ner and three-time world hour record holder said: “I love where it is, Scot­land. Per­haps it’s taken for granted when it’s your home coun­try but space and the free­dom to ex­plore it is a won­der­ful thing.

“The Etape lets peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence a bit of that. It’s phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing but not so much so that it’s not doable by any de­ter­mined per­son.

“The last few miles, where the road un­du­lates, is hard for ev­ery­one but then the end is in sight and it’s part of what makes the course so sat­is­fy­ing to com­plete.”

Fit­ness au­thor Tracy Griffen and record-break­ing ad­ven­turer Dave Corn­th­waite will also be speak­ing at Pit­lochry Fes­ti­val The­atre, talk­ing about how to fuel your per­for­mance and why you should say yes to more ad­ven­tures.

The ride is a chal­leng­ing 81-mile route through some of High­land Perthshire’s most spec­tac­u­lar scenery.

Be­gin­ning and end­ing in Pit­lochry, cir­cling round both sides of Loch Ran­noch and ris­ing over the shoul­der of Schiehal­lion, it fea­tures steep climbs, lochside lanes, rolling hills and forest­lined roads.

The race fea­tures a pair of com­pe­ti­tions: the Erdinger King and Queen of the Moun­tain and The Lord and Lady of the Loch.

The for­mer goes to the fastest male and fe­male com­peti­tor to storm up Schiehal­lion’s steep sides, while the lat­ter is given out to the quick­est around Loch Ran­noch.

There are great prizes for the win­ners, in­clud­ing Erdinger-branded equip­ment and stays at the Du­nalas­tair Suites Ho­tel.

And of course, the en­tire event raises funds for Marie Curie cancer care.

There are still a hand­ful of spa­ces up for grabs, so dust off your bike and grab your­self a place in one of the UK’s top cycling events.

Pic­tures: rb cre­ate ltd.

The Etape Cale­do­nia fea­tures spec­tac­u­lar High­land Perthshire scenery and this year, for­mer Olympic cham­pion Chris Board­man, right, is also tak­ing part.

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