A brand new cycle sportive is expected to provide a welcome boost to the local visitor economy, as well as highlighting Deeside as a top Scottish cycling destination.
The inaugural Etape Royale is a closed-road event, taking cyclists across Aberdeenshire and Moray’s stunning scenery, through the heart of whisky country and Royal Deeside
There are options to ride a traffic-free 65 or 100-mile route, both of which take in the ‘King of the Mountains’ climb over the Lecht.
The 100-mile charity ride will start at Ballater at 6am on Sunday, September 27, then head North-east via Tarland, Alford, Rhynie, to Dufftown, south to Tomintoul and Gairnshiel Lodge and finish back in Ballater.
To raise awareness of the event, Managing Director of organisers WildFox Events, David Fox-Pitt, and world record-breaking cyclist and event ambassador, Mark Beaumont, recently cycled the entire 100-mile route on penny farthing bicycles in around 12 hours.
This also raised money for the Mercy Corps Nepal earthquake appeal.
Cyclists from outwith the region are expected to attend and many, along with their families, will stay in local paid-for accommodation.
Staff working for WildFox Events, will also take around 160 beds for two nights.
According to WildFox Events, a large number of people will be staying and using local amenities, both when training and during the event.
This is expected to bring significant income and showcase the area to a whole new group of people.
Businesses in the communities through which the route passes, including accommodation providers, restaurants and retail outlets are all expected to benefit from the economic spin-off.
Event campsites will also be established in both Ballater and Rhynie, for those wishing to camp.
The Etape Caledonia, another cycle sportive event in Perthshire, is now in its ninth year.
A 2009 report highlighted that in its third year the event created over £900,000 in additional spend for the local area, attracting over 7,000 cyclists.