Invented in 1839, by Dumfries-shire raised Kirkpatrick Macmillan, Scotland is the spiritual home of the bicycle which makes perfect sense given that pedal-powered two-wheeled travel is undeniably the best way to explore this lovely country!
Don’t just take our word for it though. A round of the Mountain Bike World Cup has been coming to Fort William since 2002. And in 2023, Scotland will be the first ever nation to host all 13 separate world championships in one mega event – the inaugural 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. So clearly, there’s something special about cycling in Scotland.
There are wonderful routes to explore any day of the year and also a great selection of fantastic cycling events to join or for spectators. Here are just a few, you won’t want to miss.
1. Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup, Glasgow
21 – 24 April 2022
Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome will host its first elite level international track cycling event since 2019 in April this year. The Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup will be the first major fix of the year for cycling fans, in a venue that will host the track events for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships taking place in Glasgow and across Scotland. An exciting programme of keirin, omnium, madison, individual and team pursuits and sprints and elimination races is sure to enthral spectators.
2. Etape Loch Ness, Highlands
24 April 2022
Test your fitness, boost your wellness and achieve greatness, by participating in this brilliant cycling sportive in the Scottish wilderness! This closed road event runs for 66 miles (106 km) around Loch Ness on traffic free roads and starts and finishes in Inverness. Not many cycling events take place in scenery as stunning as this and of course, there’s always a chance you might spot ‘Nessie’! Entries are now open for the Etape Loch Ness 2022.
3. Etape Caledonia, Perthshire
15 May 2022
Now in its fifteenth year, the Etape Caledonia is one of the longest-running and most popular closed-road sportives in Scotland, and attracts riders from all over the UK. The event usually sells out its 5,000 places, and tickets for the 2022 event are going fast, so if you want to take part, don’t delay – get booked up now!
Two routes are available to riders. The 40-mile route starts and finishes in Pitlochry and runs along some fabulous Highland Perthshire roads passing Tummel Bridge, Aberfeldy and Ballinluig. The 85-mile route, also starting and ending in Pitlochry, extends the 40-mile option to include a loop of 10-mile long Loch Rannoch and the steep climbs and descents of the Braes of Foss.
4. UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is a multi-award winning event, that’s been hosted on the slopes of Aonach Mor at Nevis Range near Fort William since 2002. It’s highly regarded by the world-class riders who participate, the thousands of spectators who come along, and by the UCI themselves.
Expect an electric atmosphere as pro riders defy gravity and tackle the gnarly 2.82km World Cup Downhill Track, regarded as one of the toughest on the World Cup circuit, in under 5 minutes! There’s also a 4X ProTour competition, which sees four riders go head-to-head on a 200m long course of lumps, bumps, berms and jumps.
In between races, wander through the event village for tasty food and drink, clothing and shiny bike gear to buy. You can also see some of the downhill action from the Nevis Range mountain gondola.
5. Enduro World Series, Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders
2 – 5 June 2022
The opening event of the Enduro World Series 2022 and the Enduro World Series-E will take place around Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders this year. The event offers an amazing opportunity for spectators to see some of the finest riders on the planet compete on some of Europe’s finest, and toughest, trails.
If you can tear yourself away from watching the racing, make sure you check out the Festival Village, where you’ll find all the latest gear and bike demos from top biking brands, some delicious street food and the Tempest Beer Tent will offer their renowned Scottish Borders brews. There’s a packed Fringe Events programme planned around Innerleithen too, from film nights and live music to ride outs and more. Why not make a weekend of it and book some local accommodation?
6. Tour de Forth, Edinburgh
12 June 2022
The Tour de Forth is a charity fundraising sportive that offers two routes. The classic route, at 68 miles/109km, starts at Gogarburn, to the west of Edinburgh, and takes in the Forth Road Bridge and the Kincardine Bridge. The Nouveau 35-mile/59km route also starts and finishes at Gogarburn and takes riders by the River Forth and into West Lothian. Funds are raised for local charity Cash for Kids, with monies raised benefitting local children.
7. Highland Perthshire Challenge
27 August 2022
There are two Highland Perthshire Challenge routes, one of 50 miles and one of 100 miles, both starting and finishing at Scone Airfield not far from Perth, that head through the rolling countryside of East Perthshire and the rugged terrain of Highland Perthshire.
There’s no need to fund raise (unless you want to of course), as the organisers raise charitable funds through entry fees. They are also running the Cairn O’ Mount Challenge in Aberdeenshire on 4 June 2022 and the Tayside Challenge on 24 September 2022. Why not do all three?!
8. Tour O’ The Borders powered by Pirelli
4 September 2022
The Tour O’ The Borders (sometimes known as ‘Touro’) is a spectacular closed-road sportive taking participants through some of the finest landscape the Scottish Borders has to offer. There are two route options available – a 56-mile/89km challenge route and the 74-mile/120km full route.
Starting in Peebles, both routes pass through some stunning scenery, and both include the infamous Talla Wall Climb – not for the faint-hearted, it rewards with a stunning vista back over Talla Reservoir. There are official souvenirs for all finishers and don’t miss the macaroni pies at the feed stations along the route, to keep those carb levels up.
9. Tour of Britain
4 – 11 September 2022
Stage 2, on 5 September, will also take place in Scotland and details of the location and route will be announced in spring 2022, so stay tuned for more information.
10. Bealach Mor, Highlands
10 September 2022
Although the Bealach Mor includes arguably the toughest hill climb in the UK, there is amazing scenery to distract, delight and energise riders all along the route. Running for 90 miles from Kinlochewe by stunning Loch Maree, this challenging event also includes 2,100 metres of climbing.
It takes riders through beautiful glens Docherty and Carron and on to a mighty 626 m ascent in just 6 miles of the legendary Bealach na Bà (Pass of the Cattle), before descending, with jaw-dropping views of the Isle of Skye, into Applecross. The route then takes riders through the Applecross peninsula and breath-taking Glen Torridon, before returning to Kinlochewe.
11. Dukes Weekender, Aberfoyle
10 – 11 September 2022
Here’s an event that’s just a wee bit different. The Dukes Weekender centres on the Dukes Pass near Aberfoyle in the Trossachs. It includes biking events and the friendly Dukes Gathering hosted at Aberfoyle’s Forth Inn.
The first event, taking place on Saturday afternoon, is a closed-road hill climb up the Dukes Pass running 1.9km and rising 150 m – bring your cowbells and cheer on the competitors!
Then on Sunday, there’s a 70km gravel and trail enduro through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park that’s perfect for gravel bikers and cross-country mountain bikers. Choose your event or opt for the ‘Full Dukes’ and do both! There’s even a mini-enduro for the kids!
12. Chain Reaction TweedLove Bike Festival 2022, Scottish Borders
16 – 18 September 2022
It’s the south of Scotland’s biggest bike festival, and this year TweedLove Bike Festival, centred around Peebles in the Scottish Borders, will celebrate its twelfth anniversary in style with an exciting programme of eating, drinking, shopping, riding, racing, watching and cheering.
Take part in one of the three big races, demo a new road, gravel, mountain or e-bike, browse some of the stalls for shiny new kit, try some delicious street food or give the airbag a go! There’s even great movies on offer for the kids on the outdoor cinema night. This is one festival you won’t want to miss!
Whether you’re participating or spectating, get along to one of these great events and enjoy a summer of cycling in Scotland. And why not take a look at the Sustrans National Cycling Network map and visit our cycling section, if these events have sparked your desire to explore more of Scotland on two wheels?
You might also be interested in:
- Cycling routes in Scotland
- Mountain biking in Scotland
- Where to ride a gravel bike in Scotland
- 7 epic train-accessible bike-packing routes in Scotland
- ScotRail Highland Explorer cycle carriages
- Pedaddling in Argyll & The Isles