A thousand cyclists expected as Poppyscotland’s Sportive returns to East Lothian

ABOUT 1,000 cyclists will pedal across East Lothian to raise money for Poppyscotland this weekend.

The charity’s annual Sportive sets off from Prestonpans Community Center on Sunday morning before weary legs cross the finish line at the venue.

Entrants can cycle one of three routes consisting of a 47-mile, 68-mile or 102-mile circuit.

Now in its seventh year, the charity’s biggest fundraiser outside the Scottish Poppy Appeal has raised more than £250,000 to support the armed forces community across Scotland.

This year’s event aims to be the most inclusive ever, opening up the route to tandems and e-bike users.

Edinburgh-based Vie Velo cycling club pairs sighted ‘pilots’ with blind and visually impaired riders for regular social bike rides and the club is among those taking part.

‘Close connection’

Ken Reid, from North Berwick, helped set up the club in 2019.

The group’s chairman took up tandem riding in 1990 when he found his eyesight deteriorating due to retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive condition.

They now have nearly 90 members, with about one third affected by visual impairment.

The 63-year-old said: “We were looking for a challenge for our group and were keen to support Poppyscotland.

“We felt there was a close connection since many veterans in Scotland are affected by sight loss.

“I kept cycling solo as long as I could when I realized I was losing my sight.

‘A big change’

“But then I decided to buy a tandem and found a group of mates who would take turns to go out with me.

“We were delighted to be able to set up the club to get more blind and partially sighted people engaged in cycling.

“We’d like more people to know about us and be aware they have the option of getting back on a bike again.

“The most important thing in tandem riding is trust.

“You have to place all your trust in the pilot and that can be a big change if you’re used to having control.

“But it’s also great fun and very sociable – we’re not racers and all our weekend rides include stops for coffee and cake!”

Three routes

Cyclists can register for the event at the community center on Saturday from 2pm to 6pm, or on the day of the event between 6.30am and 8.30am.

The shortest route takes cyclists east towards North Berwick before heading south of the A1 and reaching Gifford, then back to Prestonpans.

The 68-mile route again heads to North Berwick before moving to the Lammermuir Hills and on to Humbie, then heading north to Musselburgh and back to the finish line.

Finally, the longest route goes into the Scottish Borders, visiting Chirnside and Duns before returning to East Lothian.

Gordon Michie, Poppyscotland’s head of fundraising and learning, was looking forward to the event, which is sponsored by Fred.Olson Renewables.

He said: “We’re excited that the Sportive is returning to East Lothian and the Borders after a two-year break.

“This year’s event aims to be the most inclusive ever, and we’re encouraging riders of all abilities to take part, whether on a traditional bike, an e-bike or a tandem.

“The Sportive is always very popular but there’s still time to join in, get fit and raise funds for a great cause.

“Participants can choose between three routes, taking in stunning coastal views and country roads, with a timed hill climb to challenge the most experienced cyclists.”

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