Trossachs 'gravel cycling' boom in line for further boost with championships returning to Aberfoyle

The popularity of a cycling phenomenon credited with encouraging more children to ride is expected to see another uplift with the announcement today of a post-lockdown festival in Aberfoyle next month.

The third Dukes Weekender event, which has attracted hundreds of competitors to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, is being staged on September 11-12 after being cancelled last year because of the Covid pandemic.

It was one of the UK’s first gravel riding events when launched in 2018, using the area’s 125 miles of off-road routes such as gravel roads and forest tracks.

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The success of the event is credited with making Aberfoyle a year-round cycling area, with the village being promoted as “Gravelfoyle” by new group Bike Trossach in an attempt to make it Scotland' s leading gravel cycling destination.

The "gravel cycling" trails include spectacular views of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Picture: Jered Gruber

Organiser Stu Thomson said: “The event was established with the aim of bringing people to the village and showcasing the gravel riding on offer in the area.

“It’s been incredible to see the resulting explosion of Aberfoyle as a cycling hub.”

Children from Aberfoyle Primary School play a key part in the event, making signs and working on the hill climbs.

In return, the school and two other local primaries at Gartmore and Lake of Monteith have received a donation to buy cycling equipment such as helmets, gloves and jackets for cycling training.

The Aberfoyle area has 125 miles of off-road cycle trails including gravel routes. Picture: Jered Gruber

Stu Fielden, a principal teacher at Aberfoyle Primary School, said: "The Dukes Weekender, as both an annual event and an ongoing community support organisation, has become a pivotal part of the village which inspires and encourages children of all ages to participate in cycling and gives them the confidence to explore the local trails."

Ms Fielden said the equipment “will not only help the children with progressing through the Bikeability scheme, but it will also give them the confidence to safely navigate the roads around the local area”.

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Cycling UK Scotland spokesman Sam Waller said: “Gravel cycling is booming in popularity, which is little surprise given the world-class gravel routes Scotland has to offer.

"We’re seeing new trails popping up all the time, which is really encouraging, including some brilliant family-friendly routes.

"Aberfoyle is rightly becoming a key gravel riding destination and this year’s Dukes Weekender will hopefully cement that position further.”

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