A POPULAR cycling event will be held on traffic-free scenic routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow for the first time this weekend.
The Pedal for Scotland Classic Challenge – which takes cyclists on a 50-mile journey to the Capital – will give participants a welcome break from traffic.
Now in its 17th year, Sunday’s event is the first time that the full Classic Challenge route will have been closed to motorised traffic.
More than 7000 cyclists are expected to make the journey from west to east, taking in Glasgow, Linlithgow, Kirkliston and Edinburgh.
It is hoped that the first-ever traffic free route will make the event safer and more enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities, while raising money for disadvantaged children.
Among the participants are soldiers from 105 Regiment Royal Artillery’s Edinburgh HQ and its 278 Battery Unit, based in Livingston. Lance Bombardier Neil Feltham, 46, will be embarking on the challenge with 14 of his colleagues.
He said: “It’s going to be good – we look forward to it every year. This is the third year I’ll have done it. It’s good because you get a wide varying range of people doing it – even 13 or 14-year-olds doing it with their mums and dads.
“I think people get wary about traffic, when you’re competing with HGVs and other vehicles. You need to be road-savvy – but that’s not to say you don’t need to be when the roads are closed. There will be thousands of people together of different abilities.”
Up to six of the team from the Artillery will take part in the Big Belter 110 mile challenge on a different route through the Southern Uplands, while the remainder will do the 50-mile option, all finishing at Murrayfield Stadium.
“We have had guys going out and buying bikes for this – it’s been phenomenal,” Mr Feltham added.
Keith Irving, chief executive of event organiser Cycling Scotland, said: “Having a traffic-free route for the first time creates a safer and even more enjoyable event. There is still space for more people to register and to help raise funds to tackle the impact of child poverty. Even with this new traffic-free route, participants must still follow the rules of the road and be aware of other traffic, especially in those areas where the other carriageway is still open, or where some limited residents’ access and essential bus services are still in place.” Mr Irving said he was grateful for the work of local councils and police to help put on a good event.
Pedal for Scotland, which was set up in 1999 to encourage more people to cycle, brings in £1.1 million to the Scottish economy every year.
The route will take in a mixture of closed roads, quiet back roads and cycle paths to link Scotland’s two largest cities via stunning countryside.
There are rest stops around every ten miles serving free refreshments, a free lunch at Linlithgow Palace, concluded with entertainment and activities at the finish line.
There is still time to register by visiting www.pedalfor scotland.org