Protesters instead to focus on setting up their own cycling events in Perthshire

This weekend's Etape Caledonia will not face protests about the closure of roads along its route, instead the Anti Close Road Events (ACRE) pressure group opposing the event will put its energies into organising its own cycling events from 2012.

The Etape Caledonia is the UK's only closed road event and takes place in the Perthshire countryside around Pitlochry through some of the most stunning scenery in the British Isles and has consistently attracted large numbers of cyclists from all over the country. It has also encountered a measure of controversy locally with a minority of residents vehemently opposed to the road closure, culminating last year in an attempt to sabotage the event when large numbers of carpet tacks were strewn over a section of road causing hundreds of punctures, damage to some bikes and leading to a delay while the road was cleared. A local solicitor and former parish councillor, Alexander Grosset was later charged with spreading the tacks although to much consternation the Crown later dropped the case.

This year ACRE which strongly disassociates itself from the tack attack was planning to protest against the event in a peaceful manner, this protest has now been called off. ACRE will also not protest at next year's Etape Caledonia either.

However, for the Etape to take place in 2012, IMG, the organisers will need to reapply to Perth and Kinross council for a further round of road closures and at this point ACRE says it will argue that IMG has had its turn and now its time for more locally based year-round cycling events to be organised off road and on open roads – which it will organise. One of the group's suggestions is to have a virtual event, along the lines of the Four Seasons Fred Whitton, which allows riders to tackle the demanding Fred Whitton Challenge route year-round and get a timed result.

ACRE also wants a full public consultation before any new deal is struck citing a lack of consultation over the original deal with IMG as one of the reasons for their protest – something strongly refuted by both the council and IMG. Responding to ACRE's latest statement, a council spokesman told the Press and Journal:

“Acre is a tiny group and it is very much in the minority. The vast majority of Highland Perthshire businesses and people support the Etape Caledonia and the significant economic benefits it brings to the area.

“The council has not taken a view on any plan Acre has come up with.
“We are instead concentrating on helping to deliver what promises to be the most successful Etape Caledonia event so far this weekend.”

Tricia Fox, speaking for IMG told the BBC:

"What they are proposing is a non-event and we don't see it having any real affect on the local economy."

Ms Fox also dismissed ACRE's claim to have 500 local supporters as “nonsense”.

ACRE says its argument is not with cyclists but with the council and all those we know that have taken part in previous editions say the one thing riders can be sure of at this years's Etape Caledonia is a warm and generous welcome from the locals, and if the weather forecast is right you should have good weather too.

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.


cactuscat [284 posts] 7 years ago

a bike event run by cycle-hating, narrow minded reactionary inbreds? where do i sign up? will there be tacks in the goody bag?  4

handlebarcam [1082 posts] 7 years ago

Events I also look forward to in 2012...

* The Clarkson Cotswolds 100: in which riders get to tour the picturesque lanes of the Cotswolds while Jezza and his sycophantic hangers-on drive past in 100 different smelly, fume-emitting Land Rovers, shouting out ill-informed and simplistic arguments about how volcanoes are worse than cars.
* The James Martin Yorkshire Audax: excellent food at the feed stops, but anyone seen wearing fluorescent Spider-Man outfits, shades, bum bags or stupid cleated shoes will be eliminated, permanently, by the electric-powered broomwagon.
* The Matthew Parris LimboCycle Challenge: piano-wire obstacles at regular intervals will test even Bradley Wiggins' low aero position.

wymthg [3 posts] 7 years ago

dont they under stand one of the main attractions aside fomr the area is the closed roads, any event run by ARCE i suspect wont be so heavily suscribed to, especially if the roads are open to cars, considering the narrow bendy type of roads that there are on the route.

I suspect if IMG dont get to run it in 2012 then they will ook for another area willing to benefit from the income to local business that 4500 riders plus their familys and friends take to the area.

LondonCalling [151 posts] 7 years ago

What these narrow minded tw@ts seem to be forgetting, is that this ride is in aid of a cancer charity!

Unbelievable selfishness and pettiness from these people. It's only one day a year, FFS!

It would be interesting to know the opinion the businesses that will benefit from this event have of ACRE!

CapriciousZephyr [87 posts] 7 years ago

Ludicrous future plans, and not even good news that ACRE aren't going to protest this year, in my opinion. I've nothing against a properly organised and policed civil protest. If they want to make their point, let them. Then we could see how much or how little support they really have. That they aren't protesting makes it more likely, in my opinion, that some unhinged individual, with no other outlet for his or her frustration, will do something like last year.

ACRE's line does seem pretty specious, too. As a rider whose day was interrupted by the tacks last year, it certainly felt like that "protest" was directed against cyclists, not the council.

Not doing it this year, but mainly due to a lack of getting myself organised! Good luck to all those taking part in whatever capacity, I hope everyone involved, including spectators and local businesses, have a great day. Look forward to seeing a record amount of money raised, too.

OldRidgeback [2856 posts] 7 years ago

a 'virtual competition' are they planning to run that on an x-box or Playstation?

breeze91 [3 posts] 7 years ago

I'm sympathetic to the people living west of Pitlochry, most won't see any economic benefit but yet suffer the most from road closures. Any talk of them using an alternative route is misguided as there simply arn't alternatives in the highlands for many, this isn't the Cotswolds or Peak District we're talking about here. And what is the big deal about this route, it's not particularly challenging with only one wee climb and a few other lumps. You can ride it any time of year for free and see few cars for large sections of it. Stop kidding yourselves folks and get some real racing miles on your legs  3