Pentlands to play host to endurance riding marathon.
The rolling Pentland Hills were once a favourite training spot for Sir Chris Hoy.
Now the national park will be home to a new endurance biking event in Scotland – the Edinburgh Pentlands Mountain Bike Marathon.
The series of courses, open to riders of all abilities, has been designed by the same team as the Mountain Bike World Cup at Fort William.
It features a 47k circuit, climbing and descending more than 1400 metres, with challengers expected to complete two laps for it to qualify as a marathon.
Organiser Mike Jardine, of Rare Management, said the Pentlands were the perfect place to host the endurance challenge.
He said: “There has been mountain biking in the Pentlands since mountain biking started – it has always been a great place to go. Chris Hoy refers to it as where he started his competitive cycling career.
“There may be the odd competition going on but our background is big events and we’ve long believed there’s really good potential to do something special in the Pentlands.
“For the last couple of years we have been sussing out the routes and the tracks and trying to come up with suitable locations.”
All three routes start and finish at Swanston Farm, taking in a variety of surfaces, gradients and technical challenges.
Riders will have to face a tough climb, ascending 170m in 1km on all three routes, which will take them from the edge of the city, into the heart of the hills and back, using established rights of way and old droving routes, dirt roads, well-maintained wide trails and technical single track that criss-cross the Pentland Hills.
The final route map is still being drawn after discussion with more than 30 landowners but entry is now open to the first race scheduled next month.
“I hope it will appeal to anyone into mountain biking who is looking for a challenge,” added Jardine.
“It’s not a race as such but more of an achievement to get around. People can stop for a picnic halfway around or do it as fast as they can, it doesn’t matter.”
The annual event, to be held on September 28-29, has been given the full backing of the council. Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh’s festivals and events champion, said it was an exciting new addition to the city’s events calendar.
He said: “The event offers a range of challenging routes through the Pentland Hills, giving riders of all abilities an opportunity to take part while enjoying breathtaking views over Scotland’s Capital.”