Borders Bike Festival of Scotland rebrands with a little bit of help from a Spanish cycle company

The Borders Bike Festival – a combination of a Marathon mountain bike event and the Selkirk Raid, a mountain bike enduro event – is now known as the Orbea Borders Bike Festival after the Spanish cycle company agree to become lead sponsor. The festival is organised by Selkirk based Durty Events, organiser of the Aviemore Triathlon, Craggy Island Triathlon and the Celtman. Local trailbuilder Pete Laing – who designed the original Glentress 7 Stanes and Golspie trail centres – is responsible for course design.

Paul McGreal from Durty Events said: “We are delighted to be returning to Selkirk for the 2016 Marathon, and the new Selkirk Raid event. The Scottish Borders have some excellent trails, and it’s one of the few areas in Britain that can provide a proven, challenging marathon course over a single loop.”

There are two fully marked courses with distances of 50km and 75km – something for novices, intermediates, and hardcore racers alike.

The 50km course can be completed as either a Marathon, or as the brand-new-for-2016 Selkirk Raid.

There will be four timed Special Stages, all descents. However, for every 5 minutes over a target time, five seconds is added to your time for Special Stage 5. So, dawdle too long at the top of Stages 1 -4, and you risk adding time to your Stage 5 time. Ride too fast and you might be sub-optimal on Stages 1 – 4.

The courses feature a mix of natural and hand-made singletrack, twin-track forest roads and old drove roads. Riders will visit the valleys of the Rivers Tweed, Yarrow and Ettrick. The 75km course will also include some of the very best man-made trail centre routes at Innerleithen. The 50km and 75km routes will include a few special timed ‘Enduro’ sections.

The Selkirk MTB Marathon and Selkirk Raid will take place on Sunday 1st May and the event will be based at Selkirk Rugby Club in the Scottish Borders. The event has been held for around 13 years, and has been organised by Durty Events since 2013.

Sustrans Scotland launches new promotional video for Caledonia Way cycle route

Long-distance Scottish cycling route the Caledonia Way is being upgraded, and is scheduled for completion this spring.

In advance of the official launch, Sustrans Scotland has launched a video which shows off the scenery which can be enjoyed along the route, and introduces some of the communities which it connects. The Caledonia Way stretches from Campbeltown to Fort William.

The route adds to Scotland’s National Cycle Network, which Sustrans Scotland has estimated brings in hundreds of millions of pounds in spending from cycle tourism and domestic users. Sustrans’ figures show that in 2014 the estimated spend of tourists on the National Cycle Network was £126 million in 2014, while the value of domestic spending was £249 million.

John Lauder, Sustrans Scotland National Director, said:

“The new and improved Caledonia Way will be a fantastic addition to Scotland’s cycle-tourism offer. Given Scotland’s growing National Cycle Network and breath-taking scenery, it’s not hard to see why cycle tourism and leisure tourism are valued at hundreds of millions of pounds. The Caledonia Way will make a fantastic addition to this growing industry.

“The route will also enable local people to get active by making those everyday journeys by bike – whether it’s the commute to work or school, a trip to the shops, or to visit friends.

“Our great new video highlights Scotland is a must-visit destination for cycle-tourism – and for people here in Scotland a reminder of the fantastic cycling and scenery on their door-step.”

Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport & Islands said:

“This new route will bring multiple benefits to rural communities in the area and will help promote active travel across the country.

“For the past two years we have invested record amounts into active travel – £78.4m in total. And this shows that everyone benefits – local residents, local businesses, tourists – not to mention the health and wellbeing of everyone who will use this new route.

“I look forward to seeing this route, including the Great Glen Cycleway, becoming one of our flagship routes and welcoming record number of bike users to the area.”

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said:

“From the tranquillity of Campbeltown to the ‘outdoor capital of the UK’, the completion of the Caledonia Way improvements will allow our visitors to experience the beauty of Scotland’s undulating west-coast landscape on two wheels.

“Scotland is world-renowned for being one of the best destinations for cycling tourism and this final stage in improvements presents a huge opportunity for the local visitor economy to grow. From restaurants to accommodation providers, businesses can capitalise on this year-long leisure pursuit as we encourage visitors to ‘get on their bike’ and explore our stunning country.”

Map shows that car-ownership in cities is less than politicians might think

A new map-and-data merge vividly demonstrates that many urban areas in England and Wales have electoral wards where the majority of people don’t own cars. Some wards in London, Newcastle and other cities have car-ownership of less than 30 percent yet local and national governments continue to plough money mainly into facilities for motorists.

The new map has been created by Tom Forth of Imactivate, a data consultancy based in Leeds. The map uses information from the 2011 Census and the Office for National Statistics, and by plotting this often obtuse data on Google Maps it shows how car ownership in towns and cities in England and Wales is perhaps not as prevalent as politicians and planners seem to believe.

The map also shows that rural areas are highly car dependent, which isn’t surprising considering how public transport to such areas has been cut back over many years, including the Beeching-induced cuts to Britain’s rail network and the politically-motivated bus deregulation of the 1980s.

Forth says Imactivate works with data to “tell stories in a digital world.” He created BusStart, a smartphone app that evaluates bus routes and suggests changes that would better connect people with jobs. Last year Imactivate also used Google’s flight data to discover that Britain’s hub airport isn’t Heathrow but Schiphol, a finding that was reported on BBC Radio 4.

Urban cycle advocates will no doubt use the car-ownership map to show businesses and local politicians that providing facilities that encourages more cycling and walking is economically and socially sound.

Peak Cycle Shuttle gives riders a lift

A new cycle shuttle service launches this week, designed to promote the benefits of cycling by offering a safe and comfortable link between two of the Peak District’s largest towns and its miles of traffic-free cycle routes.

The Peak Cycle Shuttle will collect passengers from railway stations at Matlock and Buxton. The vehicle is equipped to carry passengers and bikes, with a driver on hand to assist with loading.

High Peak Trail:
a 17-mile route between Cromford and Dowlow, offering big skies and expansive views across to the Staffordshire moorlands. Use the shuttle to travel from Matlock to Middleton Top, or from Buxton to Parsley Hay to access the High Peak Trail

Monsal Trail: 8.5-mile route between Bakewell and Wyedale, once part of the Derby to Manchester Railway, passing through six railway tunnels. A great option for families, the shuttle can connect from Matlock to Bakewell, or from Buxton to Wyedale, to access this trail

Tissington Trail: 13-mile route from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne that once formed the Ashbourne branch of the High Peak Railway. It passes through the estate village of Tissington and ends in Ashbourne, home of the famous Shrovetide football match. Take the shuttle from Matlock or Buxton to Parsley Hay

For people arriving by train, the service is designed to connect with train arrival and departure times. Operating Wednesday to Sunday, tickets start from £7 return per adult or £3.50 per child under 14.

For those without their own bikes, the Peak Cycle Shuttle also takes passengers from Matlock and Buxton to cycle hire centres at Parsley Hay, close to the High Peak or Tissington trails, or Fairholmes in the Upper Derwent Valley, near to the trails that run alongside the Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs. Cycle hire prices start from £13 per adult or £9 per child under 14.

The service, operated by Bakewell and Eyam Community Transport and supported by the Peak District National Park Authority, will run until the end of October 2015.

Cllr Lesley Roberts, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said:

“The new Peak Cycle Shuttle is a great way to enjoy cycling on traffic-free trails through some of the most beautiful scenery you will find anywhere. It’s the perfect excuse to leave the car at home and make the most of the countryside. And because the service has been designed to work with the train timetables, there should be minimum waiting time and maximum enjoyment time.”

Edwina Edwards, chief executive of Bakewell and Eyam Community Transport, said:

“Our bespoke vehicles can carry passengers with or without their bikes and our helpful drivers are on hand to assist with loading. This service is ideal for occasional or novice cyclists looking for a safe place to have fun on two wheels. We look forward to welcoming you onboard during summer.”

Santander Cycles creates one-of-a-kind cycling events for London

Santander, sponsor of London’s “Boris bikes”, is to host four cycling festival events this summer. The “money can’t buy” events will be staged between July and September and will be available by ballot.

The four events are:

The Science Museum – Twilight Tours
Aafter-hours guided cycling tour on Santander Cycles through some of the museum’s world-famous galleries. Each group will stop at various points to hear from curators about the stories behind the exhibits. Dates are available in July and August.

Totally Thames
During the weekend of Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th September, Santander Cycles will run activities at the Potters Field Park on the banks of the Thames by Tower Bridge. Exclusive experiences to be announced soon.

ZSL London Zoo Sunrise Cycle Tour
A tour though the zoo before it opens to the public. Groups will stop at the enclosures to find out more about the animals and ZSL’s work for wildlife in more than 50 countries around the world. This experience will be available on the mornings of 11th, 12th and 13th September.

Open House London
The annual Open House gives people an opportunity to directly experience amazing architecture across the capital, by opening more than 800 buildings’ doors for free over one weekend. On top of this, there will be exclusive access to selected buildings and gardens participating in Open House London available only via Santander Cycles. This includes Lambeth Palace (Archbishop of Canterbury’s London residence), which will offer a Sunset Cycle after hours on Saturday 19th September. More dates and exclusive access to be announced.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Summer in London is the perfect time to take to two wheels and explore the city’s hidden treasures. There are many glorious cycle routes to enjoy in our capital and these new festivals will be a great way to encourage even more people to try out Santander Cycles at a host of unique venues.”

Keith Moor, Chief Marketing Officer of Santander said: “We want to make using the Santander Cycle Scheme easy, fun and rewarding. These festivals are a great example of the excitement we want to bring to the scheme – giving people the chance to do things they simply could not experience in any other way.”

Santander became partners in London’s cycle hire scheme earlier this year in a seven year deal.