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A Highland fling?

Looking for a cycling holiday, short break, or weekend activity within the UK? The spectacular Cairngorms national Park has something for everyone during the next six months. Travel editor Frank Baldwin reports.

The Cairngorms National Park claims to offer some of the best biking in the world with gravel loops that take in spectacular scenery, climbs that can make your legs burn, downhill single tracks, and iconic routes, such as the Speyside Way, which are perfect for families with young children.

This year the UCI World Cycling Championships are being held in Scotland. It’s a celebration of Scottish cycling and to supplement the championships, the communities in the Cairngorms have organised a host of events for all levels of cyclists.

The Championships are scheduled to take place between August 3 and 13 in Glasgow, and across Scotland. Visit cyclingworldchamps.com for more information.

More events taking place during the year include:

BikeMore – Bike Festival Aviemore – May 12–14
Bike-More is kicking off the events with a packed timetable. On offer are guided routes, free events for all of the family, and an evening with Markus Stitz, author of Bikepacking Scotland, Great British Gravel Rides, and round the world singlespeed cyclist.

bike-more.co.uk

Bikeathon Family Ceilidh – June 17 / Bikeathon Ride – June 18
The Kingussie Bikeathon 30th Anniversary Special will include two routes – a 26.2-mile family friendly ride and a 35 mile gravel / MTB ride for more experienced riders.

The family friendly, largely off-road ride follows the River Tromie to Gaick Lodge and back. For experienced gravel / MTB riders there is a new circular route into Glen Feshie, along Glen Tromie and heading back to Kingussie.

The family Ceilidh on the first night before the Bikeathon will be helping to raise funds for Blood Cancer UK, a charity the bikeathon has supported for the past 30 years.

cyclefriendlykingussie.co.uk/kingussie-bikeathon

Cairngorms Cycle Festival – June 24
This free to enter celebration of cycling for all of the family is mainly based around the Macdonald Aviemore Resort but events are taking place in several different communities.

Visitors can take advantage of a wide range of cycling options at this festival that celebrates the first UCI World Cycling Championships in Scotland.

The festival will showcases many different ways of cycling including e-bikes, cargo bikes, balance bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes.

Ride-ins from nearby villages, led by professional bike leaders, will be available to book online.

visitcairngorms.com/event/cairngorms-cycle-festival-2023

Limitlass – A Mountain Bike Festival for Women, by Women – August 18-20
Limitlass will bring three days of skills coaching, guided rides, well-being and entertainment, to the Glen Tanar Estate in Royal Deeside. First held in 2022, the festival is run by mountain bike guides and coaches Anna Riddell, Fiona Finnie and Katie May.

The festival won Best MTB Event title at the Scottish Mountain Bike Awards at the Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland Conference last year. It is designed for female riders of all abilities to progress their skills, build confidence and enjoy the trails at some of the best riding in the northeast of Scotland.

wearelimitlass.com

Cateran Dirt Dash – August 26-27
The Cateran Dirt Dash is a new bikepacking event on the calendar and has been organised by author Markus Stitz in co-operation with the Cateran Ecomuseum in Perthshire and Angus.

The bikepacking is over two days and takes riders around the Cateran Ecomuseum, the perfect way to experience the rugged beauty of one of Scotland’s museum-without-walls.

Entries are limited to only 50 people and the £50 cost includes: GPX file for a 50 mile (80km) route; rider briefing; support vehicle; overnight camping halfway round; evening meal; breakfast.

dirtdash.cc/caterandash

Ride Wild Festival – September 2-3
This festival in the wilds of the Cairngorms is for riders of all levels to step out of their comfort zone, chase the challenge of single track, and let the instructors help you achieve your goals. Experience the wild trails that surround Glenmore Lodge and hear from riders, coaches, and industry leaders about all things trail riding.

glenmorelodge.org.uk/mountain-biking/ride-wild-festival

Graviemore – September 15-17
A weekend of camping, music, food and biking. There are no start times or ‘racing’, you just need to ride solo, with a buddy, or make new friends and set off as a group. There is a choice of lengths of routes which are mixed-surface, largely off-road on gravel and have short sections of single track. Children are welcome. And there is a limit of 100 riders.

Camping is in the Inshriach estate where riders can also use a rustic sauna, wood-fired hot tub and a wild swimming spot. The event includes talks, music on Saturday night, and the opportunity to purchase Inshriach’s own gin, local beer and whisky.

The £125 entry fee (children 14 and under free) gets you two nights camping from 5pm Friday, a selection of gravel routes of different lengths and difficulties, dinner on Saturday night, breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. All meals are vegan, with an egg option available at breakfast.

Bring along your own dinner for Friday evening, and there will be a BBQ to cook it on. Alternatively, book a wood-fired pizza. Soup and bread are available on Saturday afternoon at the finish.

There is Live music on Saturday night and a treasure hunt for young riders on Saturday morning.

Also available is an on-site mechanic, a horse-box sauna, wood-fired hot tub, Friday night film, Saturday afternoon workshops.

graviemore.scot/event-info

Thrive Ballater – September 30 to October 1
Family orientated and with something for everyone, Thrive is about riding bikes and enjoying the entertainment on offer in one of the UK’s top cycling areas.

Over the two days attractions include demo bike rides, a climbing wall, fairground, guided rides, the Clan Stunt Team, and a special prize draw.

thriveballater.com

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