Training continues for the Etape Royale which is now less than 3 weeks away! The 27th September is approaching fast. If you are still thinking about entering and have not yet done so, you have until Monday 21st to get your entry in. Brand new for 2015 the Etape Royale is a closed-road cycle sportive set in the regal surroundings of Scotland’s majestic North-East. The 65 or 100-mile, closed-road route takes cyclists across Aberdeenshire and Moray’s breath-taking scenery, through the heart of whisky country and Royal Deeside. You might even catch a glimpse of the Queen as you fly along (or struggle slowly uphill) through the countryside!

Lochindorb and Cairngorm Mountain

Training has been good but not enough time for longer rides. I do three, hour long lunch rides and then a ride up Cairngorm and a longer ride on an ideal week. A couple of weekends ago I cycled out to Carrbridge and over the Dava Moor towards Lochindorb. This is a very remote, vast expansive landscape and there is an eerie feeling of history with the loch being home to the ruins of Lochindorb Castle, a former stronghold of the Clan Comyn and is built on what now is said to be an artificially created island.

‘Lochindorb comes from the Gaelic meaning ‘Loch of Trouble’ and the castle has certainly had its fair share of that. Dating back to the 13th century, it was originally held by the Comyns, but later occupied by the English and was visited by Edward I in 1303 when he stayed here for 9 days, hunting out on the moor. Later it was used as a prison and also a garrison for English troops. At the end of the 14th century, it was gifted by Robert II to his third son, the notorious Wolf of Badenoch, Alexander Stewart, who rampaged around quite a bit of the local area. Lochindorb was said to be his favourite haunt.’ (

Training is a great excuse to really explore the beautiful Cairngorms and beyond. I am looking forward to post ‘Etape Royale’ event cycles when I can take a more leisurely pace stopping off at some of the amazing food and drink establishments we are so lucky to have throughout the Park. Eating and cycling is a skill which I need to work on and just another of my worries about the day… I need to remind myself doing the Etape is supposed to be an enjoyable if slightly painful experience!


Yesterday I had a half day at work and gave myself a target of cycling to the Lecht so I could experience the climb up to the Ski Centre and cover 60+ miles. It was a beautiful day but the wind really picked up when I reached Nethy Bridge making the going quite tough. A headwind prevailed all the way to the Lecht making it a really tough slow slog over the last 6 miles from Tomintoul. It was a good feeling to make it up the hill and get off the bike for a wee rest at the top. The journey home was a bit quicker and the tailwind really helped although the wind direction over the Bridge of Brown changed and again slowed me down. Once I made it to the top of the Nethy Bridge Dorback road it was a relief to be over the hardest part of the ride and near home. It feels good to know I can do the distance and the climbs but also makes me realise the elements on the day really will make a big difference to the enjoyment and difficulty of the event.

Find out more about the Etape Royale (or even enter if you’re feeling inspired by Sarah’s blog) at or find out more about road biking in the Cairngorms National Park at