In 2011 we decided in to run a small cycling event in our native North East Scotland – an area famous for Castles, Whisky, the Cairngorms, some beautiful scenery and (among local cyclists at least) for mile upon mile of quiet rural roads that are just perfect for riding a bike. The first Ride the North was a hard sell, but somehow we managed to find 37 volunteers for what turned into a hybrid of an endurance cycling event and a holiday weekend! It was only intended as a one off, and as a fundraiser for a local cancer charity. The sun shone and the winds were light and the one-off bike tour turned into an annual event.
The one thing that was clear from the outset was that this would not be a competitive event …but an attempt to be more sociable than an event where riders are focused upon times. There would be no timing chips, no placings, no podium …just a challenge ride that would be a celebration of cycling and with coffee stops, lunches and some small detours to take the more scenic or quiet roads. The nature of the challenge is always intended to be achievable (with training) for those with limited cycling experience, but to be tough enough to work for the more regular cyclists. North East Scotland is far from flat and the ride is always shaped to include some of the ‘popular hills’. 37 riders turned to 112 and then 382 and since 2014 we have allocated a maximum number of places of between 800-900. After an inconvenient interruption in 2020, we are seeking to come back bigger in 2021.
Just to be clear, the event is not a charity ride (the registration fee pays the costs of organising and delivering the event), but from the very start, we were committed to working with charities who are active in the local area and who serve the communities who support the event. Each year we protect places for charity partners, donate a few places to a different charity and welcome any rider who wishes to use the event for fundraising. There are no rules on fundraising, but we try to maintain a formula that ensures the charity impact is a key part of the event.
RtN is an inclusive event that seeks to work for everyone who enjoys riding a bike – you don’t need to ride a road bike (the majority do), you only need to be confident that you can ride 100-180kms over the course of a (sunny) summer day in scenic Scotland. The event begins at 7am (for the first riders – who feel they need maximum time) and we aim to have you finished by 7pm. How you get there is up to you, but you won’t be short of support along the way.
Our event owes a huge thank you to sponsors, many volunteers and to the local communities along the route for their patience and understanding for a couple of hours when riders pass through. Ride the North is both a celebration of cycling and our local area. Thank you to all those who have supported us along the way.