Cyclists gear up for major biking event on the island

Cyclists prepare for one of the races
Cyclists prepare for one of the races

The annual Bute Wheelers ‘Festival of Cycling’ is set to be staged this weekend with large numbers expected to participate.

The cycling event on September 16 and 17, attracts cyclists from all over Scotland as well as from south of the border, with many racers coming over to the island.

Every year the organisers find themselves contemplating running this or that type of race, only to remember that there is just no room any-where within their already crowded race programme.

As ever the Bute Wheelers appreciate the support the local event receives, and again this year they have received backing from businesses, The Bike Shed, Bute BackPackers and Visit Bute.

Some of the races are certainly spectator-friendly with the cyclo-cross race being held around The Meadows on Saturday at 5.30pm.

They will cycle up to eight laps of a course around the outer limits of the park, lasting about one hour in total.

The racers will assemble at Guilford Square and are then escorted en masse up past Rothesay Castle as far as the gates to the Stadium, to where the race starts in earnest – but the whole thing should be quite a sight.

The familiar Serpentine hillclimb is as ever a crowd-pleaser, taking place Saturday morning, with juniors going off at 10.30am, followed by seniors.

Any local juniors fancy giving it a go should just show up at Pavilion at about 10am, bike and helmet required.

Thereafter there is a 2-up time trial around the island on Saturday at 1.15pm, and the Ettrickdale 10-mile time trial on Sunday with a 10am start.

Sunday afternoon will see lots of cyclists out and about around the island for a series of road races.

The Bute Wheelers will offer ‘yellow jersey’ prizes for the best male and female over the weekend and also a best club trophy.

Wheelers spokesman Murray Doyle said: ‘‘It’s always very much about taking part, having some fun, and enjoying what Bute has to offer. We are also looking for volunteers to help us with mashalling.’’

This year, Saturday entertainment is provided in the form of bike-friendly rockabilly band Veloninos.

Alisdair Johnston, secretary of sponsors Visit Bute added: “In addition to Bute’s accessibility to the Scottish Central Belt, one of the biggest attractions for tourists is a full and varied programme of events throughout the year.

‘‘That is why Visit Bute is delighted to continue sponsoring the Bute Cycling Weekend. It is a truly iconic event, which brings many 
visitors to the island.

‘‘It also helps to get Bute back on the map and this is Visit Bute’s mission. Importantly, other businesses and organisations are supporting the event too – evidence of the sort of co-operation we all need to succeed. We at Visit Bute wish Bute wheelers every success for the event.”

Anyone wishing to particpate should contact the Wheelers at info@butewheelers.org.uk