Two formidable cyclists are to share the highs and lows of their endurance adventures at an event being staged to welcome thousands of riders to the Highland capital for Etape Loch Ness.
Eden Court, which is used as the event hub over the weekend of April 27 and 28, will host an inspiring afternoon of film, storytelling and adventure as 5,600 riders prepare to saddle up for 66 stunning miles of closed-road cycling.
The venue will host a talk from Jenny Graham, who became the fastest woman to cycle around the globe, along with Commonwealth mountain biker Lee Craigie’s award-winning film on the epic Tour Divide.
Inverness-born Jenny, who is taking part in Etape Loch Ness this year, entered the Guinness Book of World Records after completing her unsupported solo ride in 2018.
She’ll be describing the physical and mental demands of her 18,000-mile journey across four continents and 16 countries – which she completed in 124 days – in a fascinating insight into her adventure.
Lee, who has twice previously been the fastest female around the Etape Loch Ness course, will show and discuss her film – Divided – on riding Tour Divide along with fellow female cyclist Rickie Cotter.
They captured the 2,745-mile mountain bike race from Canada to the Mexican border with Go Pro cameras and iPhones – the result being an inspiring film which was selected to tour with the Banff Film Festival and which won best adventure film at last year’s Kendal Film Festival.
With event registration, food and drink, mechanical support, and cycling retail stands also set up in the grounds of Eden Court – which is used at the start and finish area – Etape Loch Ness promises to create a real festival atmosphere.
Event director Malcolm Sutherland said this was just another example of the way Inverness has embraced Etape Loch Ness and the many thousands of riders who travel from across the UK and beyond.
He said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to all the support that Eden Court has provided as the event hub over the years, and these events are a fantastic addition to the weekend’s programme. It really helps to add to the already great festival feel that Etape Loch Ness brings to Inverness.
‘I know that riders will be very excited and looking forward to getting out there to complete the event on traffic-free roads and listening to the incredible achievements of these remarkable riders will only provide further inspiration.
‘We get excellent feedback from riders year after year about the warmth of the welcome they receive from the local community, and events like these being hosted by Eden Court will help to make them feel even more at home.’
Both Jenny and Lee’s events will take place on Saturday 27 April. Tickets cost £6, and can be booked online at www.eden-court.co.uk or from the Box Office on 01463 234234.
Starting and finishing at Eden Court, the route follows the A82 along the north side of Loch Ness where riders take in the impressive sight of Urquhart Castle before heading on to Fort Augustus, passing through towns and villages to the cheers and applause of local residents.
Switching onto the south side, the cyclists will then face the challenge of the timed King of the Mountain stage – a 4.8-mile climb gaining 380m in height. All participants will receive a split time for this section, with the fastest male and female being crowned King and Queen of the mountain.
The route continues on along the south side of the loch before returning to the centre of Inverness where hundreds of spectators will be gathered at the finish line to welcome them home.
Further information on this year’s Etape Loch Ness is available on social media – Facebook facebook.com/etapelochness and Instagram and Twitter @EtapeLochNess