Cycle Through Scenic Landscapes Around Loch Ness

Cycle Through Scenic Landscapes Around Loch Ness

A Scenic Cycling Adventure in the Highlands

As I sat on the plane en route to Inverness, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of excitement and trepidation. I had signed up for the Etape Loch Ness cyclo-sportive, a 66-mile cycling challenge that would take me through the stunning landscapes surrounding Scotland’s most famous loch. Having just recovered from surgery, I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew. But the allure of cycling through the picturic Highlands was too strong to resist.

Overcoming the Odds

Regular sportive riders would not see this as a formidable challenge, but for me, it was a different story. The surgery had knocked me for six, and I had been out of action for three long months. Since February, I had been slowly rebuilding my cycling fitness from scratch. My first forays into bike-riding were a struggle, with even a small incline on a railway bridge near my house leaving me winded.

However, through determination and perseverance, I had gradually worked my way back to full strength. I was now able to tackle my daily 10-mile cycle commute, including a big hill, and had even managed a couple of “epic” day-long rides of around 40 miles. Still, the thought of tackling the Etape Loch Ness was a nagging concern. Could I maintain the required 13 mph average speed to avoid being caught by the broom wagon?

A Breathtaking Backdrop

As I lined up at the starting line, surrounded by 4,300 other cyclists, the sight of Loch Ness in all its glory quickly made me forget my worries. The friendliness of the organizers and the other competitors also put me at ease. I made up my mind to enjoy the day, whatever the outcome.

At 6:30 a.m., my wave of 200 riders set off, and I was immediately struck by the pleasure of riding in a large group. Taking advantage of the slipstream, I effortlessly moved along, chatting with the other riders and feeling right at home. As we passed through the villages of Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus, the locals had come out to cheer us on, despite the early hour. I was impressed and grateful for their support.

Conquering the Climb

A quick stop at the feed station in Invermoriston provided a much-needed energy boost before we tackled the main climb of the day – a 5-mile ascent to the summit at Glen Doe, with an altitude gain of 350 meters. This section of the route, known as General Wade’s Military Road, had a bit of everything – short, sharp ramps, false flats, and even some descents.

As I pedaled up the climb, surrounded by the stunning moorland, mountains, and lakes, I was determined to ride the entire stretch without stopping. Around me, I saw many riders succumbing to the challenging gradients and opting to walk. But the breathtaking scenery and the cheers of the spectators kept me going. Finally, at the summit, I was rewarded with the serenade of a lone piper and a thrilling descent through the frost-laced forest.

The Home Stretch

The final feed station, located along the glistening shores of Loch Ness, provided a much-needed respite. I had started to flag a bit, having gotten carried away by the beauty of the route and the camaraderie of the riders. But with the finish line in sight, I dug deep and pressed on, determined to cross that finish line with a smile on my face.

As I approached the finish line in Inverness, I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride and achievement. I had not only completed my first cyclo-sportive since my surgery, but I had also finished an hour quicker than I had predicted, averaging a respectable 15 mph.

The Etape Loch Ness is truly a remarkable event, offering cyclists of all levels the opportunity to experience the stunning beauty of the Scottish Highlands. From the well-organized event to the breathtaking scenery, it’s an experience not to be missed.

And for me, it was a testament to the power of determination and the resilience of the human spirit. If you’re looking for a new cycling challenge that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty surrounding Loch Ness, look no further than the Etape Loch Ness. It’s an adventure you won’t soon forget.

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