If you had plans to ride next year's Etape Caledonia and you haven't already registered you may be too late, the 2011 MacMillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia has sold out in record time a full six months before the event takes place, and even though organisers added an extra 500 places.
Now in its fifth year and Britain's only closed road sportive, the event has grown steadily since its iaunch to this year's record high of 5,000 participants, 2,500 of whom are riding to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support.
The charity has been associated with the race for the last three years, and it is hoped that the celebrities, Olympic athletes and enthusiastic amateurs riding this year will raise over a million pounds for vital research. They will first have to negotiate a challenging 81-mile course, taking in some of the best of the Perthshire Highland landscape.
Jo Dytch, Event Director, IMG Challenger World said “IMG Challenger World are absolutely delighted with the extremely positive response to this year’s Etape Caledonia which looks set to continue to be a major sporting challenge in Scotland’s event calendar.”
"With 5,000 cyclists coming into area, many accompanied by friends and families, this is a very welcome boost to the local economy and a fantastic opportunity for families to spend a weekend in the stunning surroundings of Highland Perthshire," she added.
While competitors are always assured of a warm welcome from locals It hasn't been all plain sailing for the event. Despite bringing a boost to the local economy worth £1 million last year the organisers have had to cope with hostility to the road closures from a minority of locals culminating in 2009's infamous tack attack in which thousands of carpet tacks were strewn on sections of the route causing numerous punctures. A local man was subsequently arrested but charges were later dropped.
This year's Etape Caledonia takes place on Sunday 15 May for further information visit the Etape Caledonia website.