Saturday saw over 500 fearless cyclists battle their way through rain, sleet and high winds to victory as they took on the epic KOM (King of the Mountains) Sportive in Aboyne.
The event, having recently been described by Cycling Weekly as “Scotland’s toughest Highland event”, incorporated two routes, the 100km and the 110 mile.
Both of these were amended for 2016 to take in more of the beautiful sights and scenery of Royal Deeside and the Highlands.
45 volunteers, 11 of whom from event charity partner Children 1st, were on hand ensuring the day went smoothly including giving the weary riders a warm welcome as they crossed the finish line.
Drumoak’s Nelly Shand, a member of the Deeside Thistle Cycling Club, was the first rider home having completed the 100km route in an astonishing 2 hours 56 minutes and 57 seconds. He was enthusiastic about the changes to the route.
“It was a hard start, going up the Queen’s View; definitely separates out the field pretty early on. I was quite surprised when I got to the top and looked back and there was only one other rider with me! The finish is much better than the last few years. The last 10 miles was beautiful sunshine going down the South Deeside Road towards Aboyne … it’s always good to finish on a high note!”
Despite the additional challenge of the adverse weather conditions, spirits were still high among the participants, and it wasn’t just Nelly who had a smiling face at the finishing line.
Colleagues Liane Munro and Anna Harris-Evans, both of Stronach Solicitors – who teamed up with Lauren MacIsaac to ride the 100km route – were also really positive about the event, noting the “really friendly feed stations” and “great camaraderie with the other riders en-route” as highlights. “Despite the brutal headwind over the high passes, once you were over the main hills, the feeling was great and the descents into Deeside were beautiful.”
Event organiser Richard Lawes, of Firetrail Events, was extremely pleased with the outcome.
“We were delighted that despite the challenging conditions, including sleet and high winds, every rider returned home safely over some of the UK’s highest mountain passes. It’s great to celebrate the amazing landscapes we have locally, and to prove that Deeside has bounced back after the winter’s devastating floods.”
Results are available to view on the official event website www.komsportive.co.uk/results.html.