Etape Caledonia - advice

by edd23   November 24, 2013  

Hi, relatively new to cycling and I wanted to get peoples views on theEtape Caledonia. Is it worth doing as it is a bit on the 'pricy' side. Also as I am new to all this how fit do you need to be? Have cycled 3,300km since 1st July and intend to keep going through the winter, when possible. Managed 125km this weekend, two rides, 800m of climbing and averaged just over 25km/h on winter bike with mudguards. So is Etape Caledonia worth doing and will i manage it? I am doing the Etape Loch Ness the week before.....Also at 46 years old any tips on how to get faster...i wish i'd started ten years ago Sad

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If you're going to be up that way anyway then go for it. I travelled from London for a it in 2012 but wouldn't do so again. Closed roads are fun and it's a good atmosphere but it's a long way (for me) to go for an 80 miler with only one big climb and none of the extortionate entrance fee goes to Marie Curie - which I only found out afterwards.

posted by VeloPeo [219 posts]
25th November 2013 - 10:18

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Hi, I think it's worth doing if you a dead keen on riding closed roads within an hour or so drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow. There are more adventurous Sportives out the such as the Ullapool and Cairngorms ones. To be honest I hold the opinion that the Etape Scotland is located where it is as it is not the hilliest route and it's mainly for the revenue source from the main Scottish cities. Design a route that is too hard and it will unfortunately scare off the revenue stream such as the David Lloyd Mega Challenge.

However living in the area of this one it looks a bit mental. It goes via the main roads in the Eastern Cairngorms that get covered in snow such as The Cairnwell and The Lecht.... I think I may be busy that day!

http://www.aukweb.net/events/detail/11-68/#more

Duncs

Edit: I have seen that you are from Elgin so you'll be familiar with the A939 on the Lecht. Have you thought about the Lochaber 100 of the Bealach na Ba Sportives? The Bealach Mor Sportive will make the numerous New Forest/South Down ones seem like a warm up.

posted by Dunks517 [43 posts]
25th November 2013 - 10:21

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It's loads of fun but it's expensive - I worked out that the last time I did it, it cost me about £500... (bit of bad planning - there was a breakup involved, and one of my mates who was going to fill in for the ex in terms of sleeping in the cabin and riding started a new job so couldn't come).
((oh god there's so much euphemism potential there))
The roads are so damn quiet out there that you might as well go up for a weekend with a mate and get some riding in. I did half the course and a few extras on the friday before and must have been passed by maybe a handful of cars.

posted by bashthebox [638 posts]
25th November 2013 - 11:44

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The route is nice enough - I've done it a couple of times outside of the event. Quite easy really, there's only one significant climb in it, most of the rest is just rolling terrain alongside the loch.

Even normally, it's very quiet, don't think I've seen more than a couple of dozen cars on it. The real difference comes from riding it with 3000 other people (if that's the kind of thing you enjoy). At the front end it is very much a "race", there are some properly quick people turn up and smash it. The record is an average speed of about 23.5mph (3.5hrs for 81miles).

But thousands of people plod round on all sorts of bikes at speeds between that and about 10mph average.

posted by crazy-legs [505 posts]
25th November 2013 - 15:06

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Was going to suggest the Bealach myself. The Etape is alright and you are fighting it out with 3000 folk. You could do the same route not pay and deal with a handful of cars. Shame you weren't a bit further south. I've a century loop I do that takes in Rothseay, Rest and be Thankful and a in round Dunoon. Gives you about 6000 odd feet of climbing.

Slowly build up your mileage. What's worked for me is getting a few good two hour loops in a week. More importantly. Enjoy yourself as you prepare.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1045 posts]
25th November 2013 - 15:31

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I've done the etape a few times now, until ride London, it was possibly the closest you got to the cycling equivalent of the London marathon.

I live about 90 minutes from the start, even then though, it means. 4am rise and you also have to be there Friday night or Saturday to collect your numbers, and as you know.....its expensive and you will also need to buy a car park pass or stay in Pitlochry.....which is probably already booked out.

And unless its windy, it's not that challenging, it actually only has 800m of elevation, the climbs are massively overstated by the organiser.

A great even if you can live with the cost and logistics, running round the closed roads, with cheering crowds and mavic neutral service cars is rather special.

I keep doing it as every year this a newbie cyclist in our group of friends who wants to do it and I support them, albeit this year one of them beat me.....

If you want a cheap sportive later in the season, the Ken Laidlaw is fantastic, the mass start means there isn't any traffic for miles.....as the bikes take on critical mass...then later the roads are really quiet, excellent home baking at the feed stops, free hot meal and showers at the end.....and free parking.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [522 posts]
25th November 2013 - 19:24

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Have done this for the past two years and will do so each year I can get a place...great scenery, great atmosphere and the ride can be one part of a lovely holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

The route is nowhere near as hilly as you may think and actually encourages good average speeds for those who want to get a decent time over 80 miles. The route is very scenic though and you may want to take some of it in! Overall, not too challenging as far as sportives go (Etape Pennines, the sister ride, is a LOT harder). Surprise

posted by mattanthony [10 posts]
25th November 2013 - 21:28

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It's fantastic ride with great scenery. There are at least three good climbs, one near the start, the king of the mountains and one near the end. It sounds achievable for you if you are putting the miles in and it's as challenging as you want to make it, depending on how hard you want to push yourselft. There are plenty of groups you can tag on, but do some hill training otherwise you might suffer. If you don't get in there is always the 'Tour of the Borders' is in August and it will be closed roads for 2014 for the first time.

Benny

posted by Bennyboy [30 posts]
26th November 2013 - 22:14

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3 good climbs? My arse Smile

There's a few lumps in the first 20 miles, the Schehallion (the big climb - which is a good climb but not massively challenging) and then bugger all of note in the run in. I'm not a wonderful climber but I didn't find it that hard.

http://ezpcgoescycling.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/etape-caledonia-2011-...

posted by VeloPeo [219 posts]
26th November 2013 - 23:37

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The thought of 3000 cyclists on one route is a bit too much. Personally I prefer the peace and quiet of the country roads, I think I'll give it a miss and tick off the 100 greatest climbs in my area instead. The Cairn O'Mount, Cairnwell & the Lecht beckon...

posted by Dunks517 [43 posts]
27th November 2013 - 19:27

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yes you can do it and its a great day out. enjoy!

posted by philtregear [72 posts]
27th November 2013 - 19:43

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My Garmin for 2012 gives it as 1326m (4350ft) climbing - that's almost identical to a London to Brighton ride I did

posted by VeloPeo [219 posts]
28th November 2013 - 12:53

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You will manage fine. I have ridden the last three, but not intending to go this year. The first time I started as a novice too, and only slightly younger.

Route is fairly flat with just the KOM as anything approaching a significant climb. I always wonder where the quoted total climb comes from.

I have really enjoyed the events. It is true that you can ride the roads with very few cars anyway. I rode much of the route on a sunny Saturday in September and I didn't see a single car on my journey south of Loch Rannoch. It is great fun though to ride in a big goup on closed roads. You get the benefit of drafting and the whole road to play with. Last year I got in some good groups and enjoyed the experience.

Ride more, ride better

posted by Sniffer [126 posts]
28th November 2013 - 20:09

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Never mind the Etape. Look at this bad boy. It's starts in Pitlochry and finishes at the Caringorm car park via the Cairnwell and the Lecht. 102 miles and 2690m of climbing. Registration opens tonight funnily enough and I reckon the 500 places will fill up quickly.

http://www.3pistescycle.co.uk

Edit: gutted, missed out on bib number 1 by a whisker.

image.jpg

posted by Dunks517 [43 posts]
1st December 2013 - 8:45

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Its a con. The roads are not totally traffic free and are full of cyclist who are pretty erratic. The Marie Curie dont get a penny from the organisers (who are not even UK based). Its a great route but you can cycle it for free any day of the week.

posted by joebee9870 [57 posts]
1st December 2013 - 19:21

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