21 great things about the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale sportive

The Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale cycle sportive takes place on Sunday September 18 offering three superb routes through the Cairngorms National Park.

Get 10% discount on your entry with this code ER16RCC at

We reveal 21 great things to know and enjoy about the cycling event.

Etape Royale in action
Etape Royale in action

Etape Royale

1 The first and only: The Etape Royale offers Scotland’s first and only closed road 100-mile cycling event. It was hailed a huge success in the inaugural year in 2015 and entries are filling up for this year, too.

2 A route for all: With three routes, including the 45-mile and 65-mile linear routes, as well as the 100-mile circular challenge, there is a distance to suit all kinds of cyclists. All the routes are on the same loop but only the 100 miler travels the full distance.

3 Start shorter: New for 2016 is the 45-mile route, which starts in Dufftown and travels flowing roads through beautiful scenery to reach Ballater. There’s a total ascent of 1,700m (5,577ft). Book your transport by bus back to the start via Travel Logistics.

4 Something in the middle: The 65-mile route is also a linear ride, starting in the Aberdeenshire village of Rhynie and finishing in Ballater, with a total ascent of 2,100m (6,889ft). Book your transport by bus back to the start via Travel Logistics.

5 The big challenge: A bike ride of 100 miles with 2,996m (9,829ft) of ascent is not an easy undertaking but it does offer a great challenge. What’s more, it’s a circular route taking in the stunning countryside of Moray’s whisky country, one of the UK’s highest roads over The Lecht and Aberdeenshire’s Royal Deeside.

The Etape Royale winds through Whisky Country
The Etape Royale winds through Whisky Country

6 Final fling: With the sportive taking place in September it’s a brilliant “season finale” for road cycling enthusiasts. After that you can start planning your winter training – and look forward to next year’s cycling events.

7 The big climb: All riders, whatever route they choose, will climb the road to The Lecht ski centre. It’s a legendary hill climb among UK cyclists and definitely you’ll want to tick off your cycling bucket list.

The big climb
The big climb over the Lecht

The climb is 3km long and has an elevation gain of 245m. The average gradient is 8%, with a maximum slope at time of 20%. The climb has some sharp kicks up including the final ramp up to the ski resort.

Although tough, it’s possible to ride the full climb and the views all around you are just rewards for your effort. Make sure you include a few hills into your pre-sportive training!

8 What goes up…: Must come down. There is no denying the number of hills to ride up in this sportive, but that means there are also lots of fabulous descents to enjoy, too. You’ll love the fast, flowing and sweeping downhills, especially because it’s a closed road sportive.

What goes up must come down!
What goes up must come down!

9 Fab finish: All the routes finish in the same picturesque location, the Victorian town of Ballater. This means you can meet up with all your cycling friends and supporters whatever distance you ride. The Royal Deeside Cycling Festival takes place over the entire weekend with lots to do for all ages, cyclists and non-cyclists. See more info (link to other blog)

The Finish - A welcome sight!
The Finish – A welcome sight!

10 It’s not a race: Sportives are not official races with prizes. You can ride as hard as you want, or take it easy. Many people do check their time for riding the distance but you are really only competing against yourself. If you simply like to ride with other like-minded people, then a sportive is for you.

11 For camaraderie: Cycling sportives are brilliant places to meet new people and cycle with others. You might ride and chat with someone you’ve never met before for a few miles, or do the entire ride as part of a large group. Sportives are well known for being friendly and supportive events.


12 One park, two regions: The sportive takes in the Cairngorms National Park and two regions of Aberdeenshire, including Royal Deeside, and Moray. That’s a lot of fantastic scenery and countryside for just one sportive.

13 The miles will whizz by: Whatever distance you choose to ride you’ll enjoy the route thanks to the stunning countryside. When you are enjoying the views – and the chat of other cyclists – the miles always whizz by.

14 Right royal: Ballater is renowned for its Royal connections and has many shops and businesses displaying the Royal Warrants from Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III.

15 As seen on TV: The Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale featured on ITV’s The Cycle Show when Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont rode the full 100 miles on a Penny Farthing.

16 You won’t go hungry: When you ride a long route on your own you need to make sure you carry all your own food and water, or stop at cafes en route. In the Etape Royale sportive there are plenty of feed stations to ensure you are well fuelled. The 100-mile route has six feed stations, while there are three feed stations on the 65-mile route and two on the Dufftown route.

Etape Royale Food Stations
Etape Royale Food Stations

17 Sweet things: Many riders were delighted by the quality of food, especially the cakes and treats, at the feed stations. You won’t be disappointed in 2016.

18 Great for charity: Wildfox Events, organiser of the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale, is once again pledging 10% from every entry fee to support local projects. Participants can also fundraise for the sportive’s official charity partner, Marie Curie, with proceeds raised supporting the charity’s on-going work in providing care, guidance and support to help families dealing with terminal illness.  Alternatively If you want to cycle for a charity of your choice, charity assured places are also available.

19 You can hire: You do not need to bring your own bike as there is bike hire available on the day. Both Cycle Highlands and the Bike Station will be offering bike rental for those travelling from further afield and will be on hand to offer mechanical support to cyclists.

20 Make a weekend of it: The event has camping facilities (£5 per pitch) for all participants and spectators on the Saturday night. There are plenty of other accommodation options, too. Plus there is a great deal to do and enjoy in the area once you have finished the sportive.

21 Top ratings: Last year’s riders loved it the event. You can read a review in Sportif magazine. We’re sure you won’t want to miss the chance to enjoy this great sportive in 2016. See more information on the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale website.

Etape Royale
A great event

Find out more Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale website.

Images courtesy of Ed Smith Photography

Share this article?

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to get notified of the latest deals, news and all the latest information direct to your inbox.