*Please note that due to the current COVID-19 advice, any large events are subject to cancellation. If you are planning to visit in 2021, please check the event website for the latest information.*
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 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. Etape Loch Ness
22 August 2021
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’! The 2021 event has sold out, but riders can register for the 2022 Etape Loch Ness.
2. Highland Perthshire Challenge
28 August 2021
If you want to do good for yourself and also for others, this is the road cycling challenge for you. Two Highland Perthshire Challenge routes, one of 50 miles and one of 100 miles, are available. Both start and finish at Scone Airfield not far from Perth, and 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 also plan to run a similar format Tayside Challenge on 25 September 2021.
3. Tour de Forth
29 August 2021
The Tour de Forth is another charity fundraising sportive that offers two routes. The classic route, at 66 miles, starts at Gogarburn, to the west of Edinburgh, and takes in the Forth Road Bridge and the Kincardine Bridge. The Nouveau 35-mile 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.
4. Tour O’ The Borders powered by Pirelli
5 September 2021
The Tour O’ The Borders 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 challenge route and a 74-mile 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 Forsyth’s famous macaroni pies at the feed stations along the route, to keep those carb levels up.
5. Tour of Britain
5 – 12 September 2021
Scotland is set to host the final two stages of the Tour of Britain between Hawick and Edinburgh on 11 September and Stonehaven and Aberdeen on the 12 September, in what will be an amazing weekend of cycling.
The penultimate stage of the tour will head through some of Scotland’s finest cycling country between Hawick, in the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh. The final stage will start in the historic coastal town of Stonehaven, before riders tackle the steep ascent of the Cairn o’ Mount (454 m above sea level), before finishing in Aberdeen city centre – the furthest north the modern edition of the race has ever reached.
6. Bealach Mor
11 September 2021
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.
7. Dukes Weekender
11 – 12 September 2021
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 1.9 km and rising 150 m – bring your cowbells and (socially distanced of course) cheer on the competitors!
Then on Sunday, there’s a 70 km 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!
8. Chain Reaction Cycles TweedLove Bike Festival 2021
17 – 19 September
Postponed last year due to the Covid pandemic, the TweedLove Bike Festival, centred around Peebles in the Scottish Borders, will be turning everything up to 11 in 2021. The Festival should have celebrated its tenth birthday in 2020 but will just celebrate it in 2021 instead!
The full programme is still to be announced, but expect a range of road, gravel, family and even e-mountain bike events. Get the latest bling in the Festival Expo and grab something delicious from the brilliant Street Food Village.
9. Etape Caledonia
19 September 2021
Now in its fourteenth 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, though there’s still some limited availability for the 2021 event.
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.
Whether you’re participating or spectating (whilst observing any Covid guidance and social distancing), 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?