Etape Loch Ness 2024

Anyone here doing this this year, or has done it before?

As you might have guessed from my username, road riding isn’t normally my jam, and I’ve certainly never done a sportive before. Excited by this though, when I DO ride on the road I hate the traffic - I’m not scared of it per se, but it’s not relaxing or pleasant. I didn’t really know closed-road sportives were a thing until recently, I imagine I might do a few of them now that I’m aware!

The route certainly looks beautiful enough - hopefully the weather will be with us… :crossed_fingers:

I definitely won’t be trying to set any records on the route, but I do plan to bury myself fairly substantially up the climb - obligatory Strava segment link

I’m curious what time the experienced riders here think might be possible for me, with a (nekkid) weight of 74kg and an AI FTP of 280 (272 on Zwift ramp test a few months back).

I (probably optimistically) feel I should be able to average 300W (:face_vomiting:) for a time of ~25 minutes, if I’m feeling good on the day…?

Our local hills are smaller but steeper, so I think I’ll be ok with the gradient - famous last words. I’d say that there’s a 50% chance I’ll be really happy with what I lay down, and a 50% chance that I’ll blow up 3 minutes in and take closer to 40 minutes by the time I drag my sorry ass over the summit, crying :rofl:

See some of you up there I’m sure!

I’ve done the Etape a couple of times and am now a local.

It’s an incredible route, and one that really benefits from the closed roads - the A82 on the north shore of the loch is awful with cars.

The climb out of fort Augustus is harder than it looks on paper but it does have a rest as you pass the lochain. I’d advise using the first section to gauge your effort then see how many beans you have left for the end.

One other point - if you haven’t ridden in a road bunch before it might be worth getting some experience of that. The etape is quite a busy sportive and knowing how to follow wheels and avoid chopping people will make the first half of the ride more enjoyable.

Really enjoyed it. My wife was carrying a hamstring injury from a 70k running race a couple of weeks ago, and with neither of us being roadies or ever having done a sportive before I opted to ride around at her pace. Largely because her self-preservation ain’t the best and if I’d done my own thing I suspect she’d have pushed herself to greater injury…

To keep it interesting for myself though, we did agree that at the climb I’d give it all the beans for the KOM segment and then regroup with her at the top. Felt a bit cheaty of me in a way, as I knew I’d be heading into the climb more rested than most, but hey ho :grin:

When we got to the bottom I bid my farewell to her, emptied my bottles, and dug deep. I think without exaggeration I passed something like 200-300 riders up the climb (and got passed by no-one), averaged 287W for 25min31 and came 53rd out of 4,192 finishers. Just outside of the top-1% that I was aiming for…

…but hey, I’m a downhill MTBer, not a roadie, so I’ll happily take it - top 1.3%'ll do! :grin:

It was a beautiful route. Cold as ken, but no rain and no wind, so can’t complain at all. :ok_hand:

Definitely want to do another, and very possibly do this one again next year.


I should add I was heading into the event with a CTL of just 34, having had a fair bit of time off all bikes last spring/summer while I underwent a treatment of chemo and radiotherapy for throat cancer. I lost about 12kg (no complaints there :rofl:) and all my fitness, so to bounce back like this feels pretty decent :metal:

(And between us we raised £2500 for Macmillan too, which was nice)