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Getting to Ballater

Aberdeenshire is closer than you think!


Aberdeen airport is 40 miles from Ballater. Aberdeen Airport is well connected to UK Airports - you can fly to Aberdeen from London, Birmingham, East Midlands, Norwich, Manchester, Bristol, Southahmpton, Leeds, Belfast, Newcastle, Humberside, Durham. Flights within UK start at £47.

Avis, Europcar, Hertz, National and Enterprise all available.

Virgin East Coast operate up to 3 direct trains per day from London King’s Cross to Aberdeen. Journey time c. 7 hours.

From Aberdeen Airport, every 10 minutes to Aberdeen centre. Bus departs Aberdeen centre for Ballater every hour.

Ballater and the local area offers a wide range of hotels, cosy B&Bs, self-catering units & campsites. You’ll be sure to find somewhere to stay that fits your needs and budget.

By Wildfox

New Shorter Route for 2017

2017 sees the introduction of a new shorter route to replace the 45 and 65 mile routes that started in Dufftown and Rhynie. The new route, which is about 50 miles, is a circular route and will start and finish in Ballater, so there will be no logistical difficutlies. The route starts off along the 100 mile closed road circuit, but turns off to head west along Strathdon before regaining the 100 mile closed road route again at Colnabaichin. Along the 50 mile route there are four climbs to tackle: Queen’s View (296m), Cushnie (323m), Towie (333m) and Gairnshiel (550m).

Etape Royale 50
Etape Royale 50

By Wildfox

Ballater Accommodation

If you are heading to Ballater for the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale on Sunday 10th September, there is plenty of accommodation available locally: (

· Creag Meggan, - Double, Twin and Family available for 1 or both nights

· Braemar Youth Hostel (available for 2 nights)

· Rosegrove Guest House (available for 2 nights)

· Feughside Inn (available for 1 night or 2)

· Mapleview (available for 2 nights)

· Inchmarlo Self Catering (available for 1 or 2 nights)

· Glentorets B&B (available for 1 or 2 nights)

· Ballater Caravan Park (speak to Richard)

· Bonn-na-Coille Cottages

One of our cottages, Pine Tree in Ballater, is available from the Saturday and we would consider a one night or two night stay. We don’t have online booking so it is not showing up on availability searches. The cottage is 4* and is one-bedroomed with a king-size bed and single bed. It is non-smoking and no pets are allowed. Bonn-na-Coille Cottages, 8 Braemar Road, Ballater, AB35 5RL Tel. 01224 585500, 07580068392

· Habitat Hostel (Friday - 2 x superior room – each sleep 4 – 1 king bed and 1 bunk bed / 1 x 2 bedded room – sleeps 2 – 1 bunk bed / 6x individual bunks in shared mixed dorm.

Saturday - No availability

Sunday - 2 x superior room – each sleep 4 – 1 king bed and 1 bunk bed - 1
x 2 bedded room – sleeps 2 – 1 bunk bed - 8 x individual bunks in
shared mixed dorm)

· Mill Cottage is available that weekend.
They normally rent it out for half or full weeks but have kindly made
an exception for this event. For the (minimum) three nights Friday,
Saturday & Sunday the rate would be £600. The cottage has two twin
bedrooms and a 5th guest can sleep on the futon bed in the sitting room.

· Callater Lodge – Double and Family room on Saturday (nothing on Sunday)

· Lys na Greyne – full on Sat but 4 rooms on Sunday (including secure bike storage)

· Glenernan Bothy is currently available for the dates.Glenernan Bothy is a self-contained, one bedroom, self-catering cottage.
The Bothy sleeps 2, but only has one double bed. A folding guest bed
could be made available if required. The rate for Glenernan Bothy is
£100 per night, based on a two night stay, or a weekly rate of £480.

· The Lodge on the Loch (Aboyne) - 1 room left Saturday and 13 on Sunday night

· Wing of Dorevay - currently in the self contained Wing of the
house 4* s/c accommodation for two ie one double bed or if not wanting
to share, one ensuite bedroom in main house with inside access to the
Wing for kitchen etc. They can also offer locked accommodation for
bicycles and ample parking. It is currently available from Thursday
15/09 till 23/09. Prices vary according to length of stay; eg. £99 (exc.
electricity) for 3 nights in the Wing for two people.Because of
impaired hearing, please email enquiries.

· Cairngorm Lodges – a selection of rooms available

· Glascorrie House B & B has one room left for the Saturday and Sunday night. Contact Jan 01339754039

More accommodation, this time in Donside.

· Heughhead – 1 unit- – call Mahri on 019756 51312

· Craig na Hullie – 2 units - – Call 019756 51343

· Colquhonnie Hotel – multiple rooms available (book online)

By Wildfox

Bike Hire Available

Cycle hire is available from Wheels Cycling Centre, Callander who will be coming to the event in support of the local bike shops.

They offer a choice of Road, CycloCross or Hybrid bike for this event.

The cost is £50.00.

Delivery to your start location and collection from your finish location are included in the hire cost.

Helmets are also provided free of charge with the hire.

Spare tubes and other basic essentials will be on sale at the event.

Contact John Miller on 01877 331100 or email at for full details of availability, how to book, delivery and collection and how to make payments.

By Wildfox

2016 Results Link

Here is a link to the Results Base website, where you can access the 2016 Etape Royale Results.

By Wildfox

Race Day Nutrition Advice

Race Day Nutrition Strategy

The Etape Royale is almost here so it is time to think about your race day fuelling strategy.

Where can I refuel?

There will be 6 feed stations on the 100 mile route as follows

Tarland -13 Miles

Tullynessie - 28 Miles

Rhynie - 37.5 Miles

Dufftown - 56 Miles

Tomintoul - 75.5 Miles

Lecht - 81 Miles

What is available for refuelling?

will be water available at every stop so if you are carrying drink
powders you will be able to mix them at any of the feed stations

addition there will be 3 sports nutrition products available. Wildfox
Events will be providing High 5 EnergySource 2:1 and this will also be
available at every feed station.

If you read my article on carb loading you will have seen the following passage

getting into the technicalities of specific carbohydrate blends and
formulations it is generally accepted that the maximum amount of
carbohydrate which can be absorbed and then utilised by the body is 60g
per hour – which equates to 240 Kcal of energy available to be used each

The 2:1 in the name ‘EnergySource 2:1’ refers to a
specific carbohydrate blend including fructose and this is what High 5
have to say about their product….

“EnergySource is a
scientifically formulated carbohydrate and electrolyte sports drink for
use during exercise. Research on traditional sports drinks suggests that
you can only consume 60g carbohydrate per hour. Using EnergySource with
2:1 fructose, you can consume substantially more carbohydrates – up to
90g per hour. That means you get 50% more energy!”

helps you to sustain your performance during endurance events and keeps
you hydrated by enhancing the absorption of water. “

electrolyte level in EnergySource should be adequate for most race
conditions. However, when sweat rates are very high, we recommend adding
a HIGH5 ZERO Neutral tab to EnergySource to boost the electrolyte
content further.”

A 500ml bottle full of High 5 EnergySource
contains 176Kcal of energy, all of which comes from the 44g of
carbohydrate it contains. 104Kcal from the 26g of complex carb and
72Kcal from the 18g of simple carb

Also available at the Rhynie,
Dufftown and Tomintoul feed stations there will be CNP Professional
Endurance Gels and Pro Flapjack Bars.

CNP Endurance Gels are
multisource carbohydrate which (in the same way as the High 5 drink) is a
specific blend which extends your carbohydrate utilisation headroom up
towards the 90g per hour region.

Each gel provides 24g of Carbs
in total. This is made up of 8g of simple carb giving you a fast energy
delivery and 16g of complex carbs which release their energy more slowly
coming into play after the simple carbs have been used up which
provides a sustained and smooth energy delivery curve.

The CNP Endurance gels also contain a dose of Vitamin B3 B6 and B12 as well as some potassium and salt

Pro Flapjack Bars might seem an unusual product to include because
almost all of the 39g of carbohydrate they deliver is complex and
therefore slower releasing. Depending on flavour just 2.2g - 2.6g is the
more quickly available simple carb.

But I have chosen them for
good reason reason. The Pro Flapjack Bars have been selected to
compliment the other sports nutrition products available at this event.
Yes they give you a nice supply of sustained release energy but
crucially they also provide 18g of protein. Protein is so often
overlooked as part of an endurance fuelling strategy but it has a really
important role to play.

My carb loading article explained your
limits of carbohydrate absorption and utilisation and how in an event
like the Etape Royale your body will be looking for energy from other

At the effort levels involved in this event the most
likely alternative source will come from your lean muscle - metabolised
by the body to provide energy. This is the last thing you want:
sacrificing your hard won lean muscle in order to have the energy to
complete the event.

If you consume protein during the event it
means there is protein available in your system to be used for energy.
This will get used up before your body starts to scavenge your muscles.
The protein you are eating provides a safety blanket around your muscles
to protect them from being ‘eaten’ for energy.

The Pro Flapjack Bars will be available in Lemon Meringue, Chocolate Orange and Cookie Dough flavours.

The Weather….

The weather has an important part to play in your fuelling strategy

High 5 EnergySource drink and the CNP Endurance Gels can be thought of
as providing energy in a similar way just in a different form and this
becomes important depending on how hot it is and therefore how much you
are likely to sweat.

If it is hot, you will lose more fluids
through sweat and therefore the balance of your nutrition plan should
lean more towards the use of a hydrating drink.

If it is cooler
you will want to take more of your energy in from the gels otherwise you
may become over hydrated and have to keep stopping to let some of that
fluid out!

How Much / How Often…?

Now you have all
the information about the sports nutrition products, you can think
about creating a basic plan of which products you might use and how
often you would ingest them whilst trying to get close to but not over
90g of Carbs per hour

Little and often is the best way to go.

you have one, use the timer on your bike computer to set a reminder
alarm so you eat and drink regularly. It is surprisingly easy to forget
especially in the crucial early stages

The CNP Pro Flapjacks are quite substantial bars which take a good bit to chew up. Small bites work best. Little and often

Some Extras…

addition to the sports nutrition there will be brownies and flapjacks
at many of the feedstations. These will be very high in simple carbs so
you need to use them sparingly to avoid a sugar rush which will cost you
later on. Small bites over a long period with these.

At the
Lecht there will be savoury rolls, hot pies and soup available giving
you some nice wholefood options to enjoy after the battle up the hill –
just remember there is still one big climb between here and the finish!

you do reach the finish there will be sweet goodies available. Eating
or drinking something high in simple sugars soon after completing the
event will kick start your recovery process.

Ben Allum – Forensic Nutritionist

CORNERSTONE Tailored Performance Analysis

By Wildfox

More Nutrition Advice

It’s the little things that count…..

We are all constantly bombarded with information about protein,
carbohydrate and fat – otherwise known as macro nutrition – This is the big

What you rarely see is good information about the little stuff – micro nutrition.

What is Micro Nutrition…?

A micro nutrient is defined as ‘a chemical element or substance required
in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms’

Whilst we look at daily protein, carbohydrate and fat intakes in the hundreds
of grams, micro nutrients are needed in milligrams or micrograms.

Micro nutrition encompasses Vitamins and Minerals

What do Micro Nutrients do…?

The spectrum of vitamins and minerals all have very important specific
roles in supporting a healthy body but crucially they also control all of the
metabolic processes in the body.

Without the correct amounts of the micro nutrients your body simply
cannot get the most from the macro nutrients you consume.

You may have the ideal macro nutrient regime, but without the right
balance of vitamins and minerals to support it, you are compromising your
body’s ability to maximise the value of the protein, carbohydrate and fat you
are eating.

How best to manage Micro Nutrition…?

Managing your vitamin and mineral intake by monitoring what is contained
in the foods you eat is an almost impossible task unless it is your full time

Micro nutrition is an extremely complex area, but fortunately it can
have a simple solution.

Good quality vitamin and mineral supplements can ensure that you have
enough of these essential elements.

If you choose to, you can enter the minefield of supplementing with
individual vitamins and minerals but I don’t recommend it. The simple way is to
find a really good quality, well balanced all-rounder. A multi vitamin and
mineral product.

As an athlete or keen sportsperson you subject your body to the stress
of training which has the effect of lowering your immune defences. This means
that the blend of vitamins and minerals needs to be slightly different for you.

We have some nutritional support from CNP Professional on this year’s event so I have looked at their Health and Immune product. This
provides a good balance of high quality elements specifically dosed to bolster
immune function in addition to maintaining a normal healthy body when used in
conjunction with a well-balanced diet.

The ‘complex’ world of the very important B’s…

When vitamin B was discovered it was thought to be a single substance
like Vitamin A, but it was subsequently found to contain two separate elements
which were imaginatively called B1 and B2. B1 refers to Thiamine and B2 to Riboflavin.
Continued research then showed that B2, Riboflavin, could be broken down
further and as different substances were found within they became known as the
B complex group.

B complex vitamins are right up there in the importance scale for
sportspeople because they act as coenzymes to convert carbohydrates into
glucose needed as energy and
to break down protein and fat into useable food.

B complex vitamins are also one of the most important factors in
maintaining a healthy nervous system, with the need for them increasing under
physical and/or mental stress – just the sort of conditions you find in
preparation for and during an event like the Etape Royale.

Most B vitamins are found together in the same foods, so a deficiency in
one usually denotes a deficiency in several. It is useful to think of B complex
vitamins as a team that must be kept together to achieve the desired result. So
as an example; if an additional dosage of vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine - which is the
most important in respect of protein absorption) is required, it should be
taken along with all the others.

B vitamins are water soluble and only a very small amount can be stored
in the body, so they must be included in your intake every day.

All sorted…?

Well, from what you have just read it might seem that if you are taking
a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement then it is job done – but not so

There are a couple of additional key points to be aware of.

Some micro nutrients are water soluble; they need water to dissolve into
a form that can be used by your body. If you are poorly hydrated you will not
be able to effectively use them. We hear
a lot about drinking the right amount of water every day and this is one of the
reasons why.

The other micro nutrients are fat soluble; they need fat or oil in which
to dissolve into a useable form. If you are not getting enough healthy fat in
your diet your body will be missing out on these essential nutritional elements.

Ben Allum – Forensic Nutritionist

CORNERSTONE Tailored Performance

By Wildfox

Nutrition Advice for Participants

Carb Loading

With just days to go until the big event it
is time to start thinking about Carb loading.

Carbohydrate is traditionally associated with
cycling as being a source of fast available energy.

So… What
is Carb loading and why should you consider it as part of your event

Without getting into the technicalities of
specific carbohydrate blends and formulations it is generally accepted that the
maximum amount of carbohydrate which can be absorbed and then utilised by the
body is 60g per hour – which equates to 240 Kcal of energy available to be used
each hour.

Taking on board more carbohydrate than you
can use is likely to result in stomach upset and discomfort – commonly known as
carb sickness.

Once you have used up all of your available
carbohydrate energy your body will look to find energy from other sources. Your
body can get energy from fat and by metabolising lean muscle. Whilst fat
provides an excellent source of energy, the conversion processes are slower
than with carbohydrate and the idea of metabolising your hard won lean muscle
for energy should fill you with horror. You would quite literally be eating
your own legs!

To illustrate the potential benefit of carb
loading let’s look at a theoretical example. A 14.5 stone man cycling at an
average speed of 13.5mph on the Etape Royale course will use about 5,500 Kcal
which is around 730 Kcal per hour. If you are only able to absorb and use
240Kcal from carbs per hour it is clear that having a store of carbohydrate
energy in your system before you start is going to make a lot of difference.

The purpose of carb loading is to maximise the amount of carbohydrate
energy stored in the body…

Carbohydrate is stored by your body in the form
of Glycogen in the liver and in the muscles.

Depending upon your individual physiology you
should be able to store between 400g – 500g of Glycogen. This translates into
an energy reserve of 1600 – 2000 Kcal

What to eat…

The best foods for carb loading are pastas,
breads, rice and potatoes. Choose the brown versions – whole-wheat pasta, brown
breads, brown rice and with potatoes eat the skins. The fibre contained in the
less refined versions of these foods and in the potato skins helps to keep
blood sugar levels under control which will lead to a more even energy supply
and help to avoid the peaks and troughs associated with raised blood sugar.

How to maximise carb loading…

One of the problems with carb loading is that
your body doesn’t store glycogen very efficiently. Carbohydrate has to be
stored with water – for every 1g of carb you need 3g of water - so to build up
a store of 400g of carbs you will also need to store 1.2 kg of water. If you
don’t keep properly hydrated it will compromise your ability to carb load.

Don’t forget the protein…

Often the focus on carbohydrate in the lead
up to an event causes people to take their eye off the protein ball.

You train hard to build strong muscles to
power you through these challenges. Your muscles are built with protein.

In addition to needing protein to build muscle, your body also needs
protein to maintain lean muscle…. And
it isn’t just muscle - protein also forms the basic substance of bones, brain,
nerves, heart and every other organ and tissue.

Whilst your body can store a limited supply
of carbohydrate and an almost unlimited amount of fat, protein cannot be
stored. The protein requirements for
each day must be provided each day. If not, your body will metabolise lean
muscle to get the essential nutrients needed to maintain
vital organs.

When you are trying to pack in the carbs it
can be difficult to keep your protein intake up and this is where a protein
supplement can help.

CNP Professional produce Pro Peptide which is
a truly premium grade protein supplement. All of the endurance athletes I
advise take 2 scoops of Pro Peptide in 300ml of water just before going to bed,
delivering 30g of protein. The super high quality Casein provides a slow release of nourishing protein through the
night after the faster acting Whey
proteins have done their work.

Ben Allum - The Forensic Nutritionist

Cornerstone – Tailored Performance Analysis

By Wildfox

REVIEW - Sportif Magazine

Words: Tracy Norris & Photography: Ed Smith Photography

A sportive in Scotland at the end of September could go either way, weather-wise. In Scotland, we have weather … lots of it … and so it was a bold decision by the organisers to hold the inaugural Etape Royale so late in the season – but it was a gamble that paid off in spades.

As I kept a close eye on the forecast on my favourite weather website (the bizarrely Norwegian but highly reliable it looked like the weekend was going to be an absolute corker – the sort of early autumn day that Scotland does better than anywhere else in the world – a crisp, cold, clear morning that gradually warmed into a gloriously balmy sunny day. Add to this beautiful wild Scottish scenery and you have a perfect bike ride in store.

With the choices of 65 or 100 miles on closed roads, I took the ‘wimp’s’ way out and opted for the shorter of the two. As I was still taking down my tent in a field in Rhynie (the start point for the 65 milers, 35 miles into the 100 mile route), I heard a roar of support for the first 100 miler racers coming through their 3rd checkpoint having started off in the dark at 6am in Ballater. It was 7.45, so I brushed the ice off my saddle (yes really) and focused on getting my act together and to the 8am rolling start as quickly as possible.

A belated check of my tyre pressure led me to a quick and slightly embarrassed visit to one of the bike mechanics: a huge, bearded, friendly bear of a man who would have been right at home in a ZZ Top tribute band was only too delighted to help. Buoyed up by some gentle banter and the reassurance of super-quick tyres, I hustled to the start line and was soon waved through to start my ride.

Pedalling alongside a buddy of mine, we chatted our way up the first gentle inclines of the day and immediately realised this was going to be an absolute pleasure of a ride. We put ourselves under no pressure to race for a time and instead soaked up the views, gradually warming up into the ride.

Our first feed station came around 20 miles later in Dufftown after an alarmingly steep but mercifully short, stiff climb. Our reward was the best home-baked brownies north of the Watford Gap and served by cheery local folk who were enthusiastically supporting the event. I befriended yet another ZZ Top lookalike mechanic and used his allen keys to adjust my saddle and ease my sore lower back. Once again I chastised myself for lack of bike preparation. Bumping into a few more friendly faces I knew, we headed out again for more steep climbs along pretty country lanes. Head down to get the job done, I looked behind to realise I’d lost my cycling buddy. Having both agreed we would just play the ride by ear and not necessarily ride the whole thing together, I decided to keep on going and soon locked onto the wheels of 2 friendly young women from West Lothian Clarion cycle club. We rode together, sometimes chatting, sometimes working hard taking turns at the front in the headwind to the next feed stop.

The ride was in a wild part of Scotland and the population is thinly spread – and yet almost every household had come out to cheer us on enthusiastically. I made a point of being equally vocal and enthusiastic in return – their support was invaluable, not just to my own morale, but also to the survival of events like these that depend on the cooperation of locals. Road closures can be as inconvenient to locals as they are beneficial to business owners and it’s a difficult balance for race organisers to find. But the support along the route proved that the Etape Royale was being embraced by locals and participants alike.

I’d have liked to have heard more riders showing their appreciation, not just for the local families cheering us on with their banners and cow bells, but also for the huge number of marshals and volunteers on the ride. I made a point of shouting a cheery ‘thank you’ to every one of them. I realise I was not racing hard – but the majority of us could afford the spare oxygen to show our thanks. I’ve been one of those marshals in the past, and I know how grateful I was for the recognition. Some of these marshals will have been up at 4am to get to their position on the route and were still smiling when I passed through hours later. Good for them!

At the Tomintoul feed stop I was told that the next stop was only 7 miles away on top of the Lecht ski station, which told me everything I needed to know about the climb ahead. So I stuffed more home-baking in my mouth, exchanged some fun banter with friendly guys from the local Torphins Tycoons and climbed back on the bike, having first peeled off leg warmers and arm warmers. The day was starting to really heat up. So with jersey pockets positively bulging with discarded warm layers, I headed off.

I found my two Clarion riders again but was soon dropped by them as the first big climb of the day began. Looking at the road winding up ahead, it didn’t seem to warrant the awed tones being used to describe it. This is hardly Mont Ventoux. And yet I passed more and more riders who’d abandoned their bikes to attend to their leg cramps or who were pushing their bikes. This was actually pretty steep. In fact, zigzagging became the only way to go as I threw all my weight on top of each pedal turn to keep the wheels rolling. The beauty of not having a Garmin is that I remained in blissful ignorance but I’m told we hit 20% at times. No wonder it hurt.

Not only am I lackadaisical at best when it comes to bike preparation before my rides, I’m also flippant about checking the route out in proper detail. If I had done so, I would have known that the Lecht is only the first of 2 solid, calf-bulging, lung bursting climbs. After a blast over the high ground fighting a dangerous side wind, we dropped hair-raisingly steeply down into the valley beyond the ski station (accompanied by much red-flag-waving by marshals to stop me careering off the course). Realisation slowly dawned that the silvery road glistening in the sunshine that climbed ahead like a stairway to heaven, was indeed part of the course. I quickly grabbed my secret weapon – a peanut butter wrap – and scoffed it in-between gasps for oxygen. Painfully slowly I crawled past the groaning and wincing bodies of more cramped up MAMILs scattering the roadside. It was carnage. But while I will never be in the running for the King of the Mountain jersey, I was pleased not to be among the bodies scattered behind me in varying states of agony.

This time, it really was going to be downhill to the finish. I found myself entirely on my own but with a determination to get this ride done in as respectable a time as possible. Grimacing into the headwind and pumping my legs hard I stormed towards the finish line in the lovely Highland town of Ballater. The crowds were out to cheer us all in with a positively festival atmosphere. I rolled, gasping, over the line in the knowledge that I had put in a good effort despite never remotely being in the running for a position on the podium.

The inaugural Etape Royale was a glorious day out on the bike enjoying the peace and tranquillity of closed roads for a morning. The weather and the scenery could not have been better, the organisation and local support were tremendous and I’m sure this will become an annual event in the cycling calendar. And the brownie … well, that brownie has legendary status for me and I’ll definitely be coming back for more.


By Wildfox

Event Photos - 2015

​Purchase event photos from our official photographer Ed Smith.


Event Photos from Harry Scott.

If you see your number highlighted in Red or Green in the PDF below, please email with your race number and finishing time and you will be able to purchase all the required photos for just £3.


By Wildfox

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