⇓ Dufftown to Rhynie (18 miles)

We will soon publish many more pages that will look a little like this. They can be used by everyone but they will also form the basis of a 5 month cycling challenge …kinda like Munro bagging on a bike …but with points to reflect that you get more kudos for the tougher stages.

Let’s get this out the way first …only 7 points for cycling from Dufftown to Rhynie (commonly referred to as ‘The Cabrach)?!  All subject to publication and confirmation soon …but there are bigger fish out there, so I couldn’t use the 9 or 10 too quickly! This will be one of the popular cycling routes this summer regarless and it has a special place in RtN …which has changed route every year, but there has never been a Ride the North without the Cabrach (you can be influenced by that as you see fit)! There will be many more options that don’t involve roads that don’t feature on the Wikipedia list of the highest roads in Scotland!

On 21 April we will be publishing 135 routes that will look a little like this.  A description highlighting points of interest, a photo or two, a map, downloads for GPS device and the occasional recommendation of the essential coffee and cake stops. There will be 135 (I think) linked routes …Dufftown will link to Rhynie, which will link to Insch, which will link to Huntly, which will link to Keith, which will link to Dufftown …and so forth. All of this will allow you to plan bike rides that are anything from 20 to 200 miles. I haven’t yet added up the total distance, but around 2,000 miles I’d expect. I have made as clear as I can that all this will be published for free so that it can be used by anyone and everyone. You don’t need to be a dedicated cyclist or need fancy kit to cycle from Elgin to Lossiemouth – if this motivates a wee bit more cycling and helps folk discover how good cycling on our doorstep can be, then that is fantastic. There does have to be a challenge …

The RtN 153 will last from 1 May to 30 Sept and will invite participants to register for Gold, Silver, Bronze level challenges. It will have a £20 registration fee (more below). Every route has points and points make …a contribution to your quest for successful completion. The key rule is going to be that once you have cycled your local route from Aberdeen to Banchory, those points are bagged and you have to move on – so you will find yourself visiting some towns and villages that you haven’t been to for a while (we’ve not been anywhere for a while). The network is set to link (in no particular order) Aberdeen, Banff, Stonehaven, Fraserburgh, Elgin, Dufftown, Rhynie, Fyvie, Alford, Braemar, Ellon, Turriff, Lossiemouth, Cullen, Peterhead, Foggie, Tomintoul, Grantown on Spey, Forres, Banchory, Aboyne, Insch, Strathdon, Garmouth, Strichen, Ballater, Glenshee, Huntly, Archiestown, Westhill and Inverurie (I’ll have missed somewhere!) and about 100 villages in between.

Many of those who participate in Ride the North are lucky enough to live and cycle in an area that is famous for castles and malt whisky, is home to the Cairngorms National Park and some of the highest mountains (and roads) in the UK, a beautiful coast with beaches and cliffs and a vast network of mostly roads through great scenery. This has to be an invitation to those who live in other parts of Scotland (or beyond subject to whatever rules apply) to visit us this summer. The NE Scotland summer will conclude with a first visit by the Tour of Britain and we are (I hope) beginning to see our region realise that it can be a serious destination for cycle tourism. We are working with Aberdeenshire Council and the Moray Council to at least explore possibities.

Ride the North has always attracted a diverse audience …it might be easy to think it’s all super keen cyclists, but there many who do the event as a step out of their comfort zone. There has been no cause for looking at many positive impacts of Covid over the past year but it has had such a visible impact on cycling. More people are riding bikes and more of them are just ordinary folk riding ordinary bikes in ordinary clothes. I sincerely hopes it contributes something going forward to make us a more active nation and whatever Ride the North is going forward it has to be an invitation to all those who dusted off their bike in 2020-21 to keep it going.

The last year has been shit for almost everyone. This message will be read by those who have lost loved ones and certainly many who work in the NHS who are still involved in a real life endurance challenge. My small business has always been a passion too and I didn’t expect it to turn into my livelihood when RtN started in June 2011. The event is run by a Limited company of which I am the only director and employee. I have found myself on the wrong side of some of the Covid business support …so I need to do something if Ride the North is to survive. I have set a £20 fee to be take part in the challenge.

ABOVE ALL this is a plan that is set by Covid and it has to respect that it doesn’t seem likely to be over this summer. The plans above are shared to allow you to take part as and when you want/can and within whatever restrictions may apply at the time. The fightback is ON …and cyclists will lead the way!

Click the play button on the map below to see the route. All routes will be presented like this AND will all be available on Strava.

Route map for Dufftown To Rhynie by Neil Innes on plotaroute.com