A new major cycling event is set to launch on North Uist in August.
Inspired by the journey undertaken by trained grizzly bear Hercules – who escaped while filming a television advert and spent weeks wandering across North Uist and Benbecula – the ‘Herculean Sportive’ is scheduled for Saturday 13th August.
Organisers are encouraging participants to back local charity campaign 1 Million Miles for Ellie by collecting sponsorship ahead of tackling the challenge.
Cyclists can attempt one of two routes – short and long – aptly named the ‘Herculean Beag’ and the ‘Herculean Mòr’.
While it took Hercules twenty-four days to complete his tour of the islands, those taking part in the Herculean Sportive will be asked to finish the challenge in a day.
For the longer ‘Herculean Mòr’ route, cyclists will start in North Uist and travel to Grimsay, Benbecula and South Uist, before heading back to North Uist and on to Berneray .
‘Herculean Beag’ riders will cover North Uist, Grimsay and Benbecula.
Both routes will start and finish at Lochmaddy Hall, where refreshments will be served for cyclists following the ride.
Details for registration – which can be completed online or by post – can be found on the event website: www.herculeansportive.com
Kenny MacDonald of Ahmor, North Uist, has been involved in cycling events for many years and is organising the inaugural ‘Herculean Sportive’.
He said: “I’m really hopeful that this will take off and become an annual event.
“As the sportive becomes established, it would be good to extend the course to other islands, though for this year we are just looking at courses that can be completed in a single day.”
Participants in the challenge are being encouraged to visit the Hercules statue in Langass Woodland – where the famous bear is now laid to rest – and pose for pictures either before, during or after the sportive.
Camping facilities will be made available in Lochmaddy for challenge entrants and a host of bunkhouses, B&Bs and hotels are available on the islands. Prior booking is recommended.
Airport transfers can be arranged in advance by contacting organiser via the website (details above).
Look out for more on this event in the next edition of Am Pàipear.