A MOUNTAIN bike marathon has been cancelled in its first year after farmers refused to allow riders on their land.
Up to 500 riders had been expected to take part in the inaugural Edinburgh Pentlands Mountain Bike Marathon later this month.
But the endurance challenge – designed by the team that created the Mountain Bike World Cup at Fort William – has been called off after concerns from four landowners about potential damage to the terrain.
The 47 kilometre route, open to riders of all abilities, would have seen cyclists climbing and descending heights of more than 1400 metres on Sir Chris Hoy’s old training ground on September 28 and 29. Organiser Mike Jardine, of Rare Management, said they were disappointed not to get the go-ahead.
He said: “It’s a real shame. We have been working pretty hard to get full backing but there was some resistance and we thought it important to have everyone on side.
“We felt we had no alternative but to cancel it.
“It was only ever going to happen if we could put the landowners’ minds at rest but it was 30-odd landowners so it was always going to be a tough mission.”
In April, the group started organising what they hoped would become an annual event. It was given backing by the city council in the belief the route had already been agreed with landowners.
Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh’s festivals and events champion, said he hoped it would go ahead next year.
He said: “We were led to believe that consent had been sorted out but it hadn’t been.
“It just means that if the organisers want such an event to go ahead, they are going to work harder to get the consent or work out an alternative route.”
Cyclists took to forums to express their disappointment, with many asserting their “rights to roam”.
Dazzlingboy, a member of singletrackworld.com, wrote: “If the map has been published, a group of us should ride it anyway and exercise our world-leading rights of access.
“The landowners can jump up and down all they want then.”
Ian Maxwell, spokesman for cycling campaign group Spokes, said the Pentlands had long been a disputed territory.
He said: “The Pentlands have been quite sensitive to the overuse of trails. In the past there were schemes to try and do some trail building to make things easier. But there is such a mixture of ownership, it makes it difficult.
“It’s a shame because although there are some wonderful places to go mountain biking, it’s all quite a way out whereas the Pentlands is just on the doorstep.”
Refunds are being offered to anyone who had entered the £30 event.