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1,000+ mile self-supported ride around Scotland

New to the endurance cycling calendar for 2019 is the Trans Alba Race, a self supported bicycle ride around Scotland that has just opened its doors for registration.

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With over 1,000 miles and 50,000+ feet of climbing the Trans Alba Race (Alba is the Gaelic word for Scotland) takes in the Cairngorms, the Highlands, the Trossachs and the Scottish Borders. It’s likely to be climby then, and also wet and possibly midgey. At that distance it places itself as a handy stepping-stone somewhere between a healthily length audax and an event like the TransAtlanticWay or TransContinental for cyclists that might find the ultra rides a bit much. For now.

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While the Trans Alba is called a race it’s billed as just a ride, a personal challenge against the clock. The organisers say that this is because there are no prizes for coming first, second, third or a wooden spoon for last place. Actually there is a wooden spoon for last place.

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As with similar events riders are required to be self supported, which means they’re responsible for their navigation and logistics whilst remaining completely self reliant throughout the event. So racers must ride from start to finish following the set Trans Alba Race route all the while accepting no third party support, re-supply or lodgings. Solo riders aren’t permitted to draft each other, although Pairs and Team entries are, and all forward travel must be self-powered. Finally, and common to such events entrants must ride in the spirit of self reliance and equal opportunity, with no prize money at stake there’s no financial incentive to cheat.

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Perhaps with an eye to recent incidents in the ultra-distance cycling world the Trans Alba Race has upped the rules with regard to rider safety. Minimum requirements to pass the safety check are two front lights and two rear lights, with reflective tape on both the seat stays and front forks. All riders are required to wear hi-vis clothing and the organisers are strong to point out that if they think you are not visible enough you will be sent to purchase appropriate gear. Reflective ankle straps and a rear flashing light on a helmet are also advised. Whatever your views on the efficacy of these measures them’s the rules, the Trans Alba Race wants to see you lit up like Christmas trees.

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Whilst “trans” as a prefix might mean “across” the Trans Alba Race actually goes around Scotland, anti-clockwise for 1,065 miles with the race/ride starting in Edinburgh on Monday 1st July 2019. With a neutralised start over the Forth Road Bridge and through Inverkeithing riders head out through St Andrews and Dundee and into the Cairngorms where they face some challenging climbs to reach Inverness. This is where the real test of the Trans Alba starts as resources are more sparse as the race enters the Highlands, into Applecross and over the infamous Bealach-na-ba climb. Mile 600 sees riders at Beauly and thus south to Fort William and towards the lumpiness of the Trossachs and then skirting Glasgow. The final portion loops down through Moffat and the Scottish Borders before swinging up towards the east coast back to Edinburgh. 

Entry into the event is £235 for a solo rider, £225 per rider if you ride as a Pair and £215 per rider in a team of four. For that you get administration and registration costs and a Trans Alba cap, bidon and sticker, plus the GPX File of the race route and the use of a GPS Tracker. If you finish the event you will receive a musette bag and hip-flask.

transalbarace.com

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.