Cyclists face tough sportive challenge

Three-time world champion Graeme Obree starts off a junior race.
Three-time world champion Graeme Obree starts off a junior race.

The GTM Cyclefest Sportive, organised by Alford’s Grampian Transport Museum (GTM), was run off under remarkably fine conditions.

Some of the 300 plus riders experienced temperatures approaching 30 degrees on road climbs in the Grampian mountains. Held the day before the track events, the sportive was run over 25 miles, 100kms and 100 miles. The routes took riders over and through many of the Grampian mountain passes.

A member of cycle stunt team Clan performs a backflip at the Cyclefest event at Alford's GTM.

A member of cycle stunt team Clan performs a backflip at the Cyclefest event at Alford's GTM.

The event has been billed as the toughest King of the Mountains Sportive in the country and with the blistering conditions, it added to that reputation.

In only its second year, the event had more than 60 riders starting the 25 miles, over 170 riding the 100 kms and 70 braving the 100 miles.

Despite the heat and perhaps because of the support on the routes with top-ups for water bottles and supplies of food and fruit, only six riders failed to complete the course.

A GTM spokesman said: “Already, it is obvious that this is a top class event benefitting from the support of the Grampian Transport Museum, Senergy the event sponsor, and the cycling knowledge within Deeside Thistle Cycling Club. Already, thoughts are turning to next year when things like electronic timing will have to be put in place to accommodate the expected expansion in numbers.”

A Penny Farthing race was held - for the first time ever in the north?

A Penny Farthing race was held - for the first time ever in the north?

The fastest riders at each distance were: 25 miles, 1.23.04, John Campbell; 100 kms, 2.58.34, Dan Whitehead; 100 miles, 5.51.23, Simon Van Bellen.

On Sunday (May 27), there were youth races, U8s and U10s. The Clan, Scotland’s ultimate cycle stunt team, also brought its own form of urban stunt riding to Alford.

Fans of veteran cycles were delighted to see the Penny Farthing race with up to 20 vintage cycles racing for possibly the first time since their own era.

Guest Graeme Obree, former British World Championship cyclist, started the races and presenting prizes at the end. Nicknamed ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Graeme twice broke the world hour record in 1993 and 1994 and was individual pursuit world champion in 1993 and 1995.