Scotland recently got top-marks in an international report on provision for mountain bikers and 2007 looks set to be the best year yet for Scottish bicycle happenings. From February through to October, event after event will cater to cyclists. From the Mountain Festival in February-March through to a closed road Sportive in June and then on to three World Championships in the Autumn, Scotland is groaning with cycle-themed races, fests and films.

Scotland the Bike

Most of the events are in the Highlands and Islands. Some are linked to Highlands 2007, a mammoth series of events linking the arts, the environment, heritage, science and sport. 2007 is "the year Scotland celebrates Highland culture" ("A’ bhliadhna a chomharraicheas Alba cultar na Gaidhealtachd.")

Alison Bell, marketing and communications manager for Highland 2007, is a cyclist and often rides to work. She’s one of many Highland Council employees to have taken advantage of the Cycle to Work scheme, the tax-efficient salary sacrifice scheme for buying bikes and kit. The Highland Council scheme was facilitated by Cyclescheme of Bath.

The Winter Bicycle Film Festival is to be staged 4th-5th February at Filmhouse on Lothian Road. As well as MTB films featuring the usual assortment of extreme jumps and locations there’s Alan Bennett’s first work for television, a 1972 play about a pre-WW1 Halifax cycling club’s outing to Bolton Abbey.

The Fort William Mountain Festival, February 16th to 3rd March, features hill-walking events along with practical mountain skills and video-making workshops, competitions, films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, theatre, live music, book readings and fringe entertainment. But it’s not just for red socks, there are MTB guided tours and talks from MTB expeditionists, too.

Motorists hoping to use some major Loch-side roads in Perthshire on Sunday 24th June will be disappointed. The A827 by Loch Tay will be closed to all but 2500 cyclists on the brand new Etape Caledonia, an 83-mile ‘Sportive’ bike ride.

Etape Caledonia is being promoted as the UK’s first ever timed mass participation cycling event on closed roads.

The route will take in some of the stunning scenery of Highland Perthshire including the three lochs of Tummel, Rannoch and Tay, with some significant hill climbs.

Cycling Scotland is running a Bike Week seminar on February 2nd, with free places available for people who are considering organising events during Bike Week, June 16-24th. Bike Week’s Nick Harvey said: "They already have 70+ delegates but can accommodate a few more."

SSWC 2007, a race and gathering, will be held on September 1st-2nd in Aviemore. Chris, Jon and Marty of The Telly Savalas Players Club suggest "Get there on the Saturday for registration and a wee dram."

The SSWC website has few details online, with more promised.

Feeling flush? Stay at the Aviemore Highland Resort: it’s got an indoor swimming pool with a waterslide. Fancy chilling at a boutique hotel before or after SSWC? Check out Rocpool Reserve in Inverness, Scottish Hotel of the Year in 2006. It’s dead posh and features three kinds of room: decadent, chic or hip. The top-flight room has a wooden balcony overlooking Inverness. One of the decadent rooms has a double shower with ‘aquavision TV’, another has an outdoor hot-tub under an awning.


Held, of course, in Fort William the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships is to be staged September 3rd-9th. Fort William is already an established venue on the UCI World Cup circuit, having hosted World Cup events since 2002 and Rare Management, organisers of these events, has a mantelpiece groaning with events management trophies.

The official website has little info other than the dates and partner logos but you can download Quicktime and WMV movies of the most recent World Cups, complete with thumping backing tracks from Glasgow band Darkwater.

Raasay Rumble is a 10 hour endurance mountain bike event on the Isle of Raasay set for September 29-30th.

There’s to be a prologue route and ‘primes’ (climbing and clean technical riding). Prizes will be allocated for overall ranking in Solo, Pairs and Teams of Three and for ‘prime’ achievements. There’s also a ‘Sunday Social’ ride to the North of the Island, guided by the local trail builder, Steve White.

OK, this isn’t a bike event but there’s nothing better than oats for slow release energy for getting you up those hills. The 14th annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship will take place in Carrbridge, Inverness-shire, Scotland, on Sunday October 7th.

The 2006 Report Card from the International Mountain Bike Association awarded Scotland back to back honours, a first in the Report Card’s eight year history.

IMBA’s Report Card gauges the riding opportunities and advocacy strength in the United States, Canadian Provinces and nations with significant mountain biking.

In 2006, IMBA stepped away from assigning each state, province and nation individual grades. Instead, the organisation awarded ‘top of the class’ honours for the best of the best, and thumbs down to the problem students

Scotland got A+ in IMBA’s ‘global superstar’ category.

IMBA said:

"The Scots have gone positively bonkers!" That was the comment that best summed up the way we’ve seen mountain biking progress in Scotland – the first nation to record back-to-back honors in this hotly contested category.

"By ‘bonkers’ we mean they’re promoting the sport on all fronts, including a nationwide strategic plan that lays the groundwork for a network of fantastic bike parks on Forestry Commission lands. The plan covers every aspect of the sport, from trail construction to management schemes to tourism promotion. Their biggest problem? Deciding how to best transport hoards of enthused riders to the top of popular gravity-fed trails (ski-lift service is a rarity). The "7Stanes" mountain bike centers are frequently cited as a success story for adventure tourism. From cross-country to downhill to bike parks, Scottish riders have access to every kind of knobby-wheel fun, and they’re ready for more."

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