The organiser of Ride the North has raised concerns about the condition of the roads across Aberdeenshire.
Ahead of the event’s return next month, Neil Innes has been in touch with the local authority to fix the most “dangerous” issues.
However, he has been told the loose gravel and potholes on the rural roads are not a priority.
The event has been running in the north-east for more than a decade with the 2023 edition offering two distance options – 64 miles and 100 miles – for cyclists.
Both routes cover much of Aberdeenshire, including the country roads through Huntly, Kennethmont, Rhynie and Rothiemay.
“In all the years of doing the event, a growing problem has been the conditions of the roads,” Mr Innes said.
“I write to the council every year after I’ve gone out to check the route. Most years I identify three or four problems, but this year there were about 25.”
The event organiser has shared evidence of the poor road conditions with Aberdeenshire Council but no improvements have been made because they are considered the lowest level of risk.
He has sought permission to get the roads swept clear ahead of Ride the North on August 26 but this has not been granted either.
Mr Innes added: “The event is hugely about using minor roads that are not usually very busy with motors. They are good for cycling because they are away from HGVs and cars driving at 60mph.
“But, these unstable roads can be dangerous. Potholes are not really the problem, they make up about 5% of the issue on the roads we intend to use.
“It’s the gravel from the surface dressing left on the roads and remnants from farms which can make it easier for cyclists to skid.
“Some issues have been fixed over the years, but this time the council have said no. They have a system to assess the roads and these are not the priority.”
Biggest event yet
This year’s Ride the North is expected to be the biggest edition yet with up to 1,500 cyclists taking part from across the world to support a number of charities.
“As a cycling event organiser, I’m committed to bringing visitors to the north-east,” Mr Innes added. “We have people coming from the US, Netherlands and Dubai this year.
“We’re trying to showcase this area for cycling and make sure visitors have a great experience.”
Mr Innes said he has no plans to cancel the event but will make sure all participants are aware of the road conditions before they take off from the start line.
“It is in everyone’s best interest to make sure it happens safely,” he added.
‘Reactive road maintenance’
Aberdeenshire Council has acknowledged that there are issues with the road conditions on the route but confirmed they are not considered a priority.
Philip McKay, head of roads and infrastructure for Aberdeenshire Council, said: “Across Aberdeenshire, the council is responsible for the management and maintenance of more than 3,500 miles of road.
“In line with the code of practice, reactive road maintenance is undertaken following a risk-based approach.
“Any defects on our network, including the route chosen by Mr Innes for the event, have been assessed and prioritised to reflect the risks posed to road users.
“This evaluation takes account of the physical characteristic of the defect and the nature of the traffic on the road.
“While it is the case that there are defects on our network, it is also the case that Aberdeenshire’s roads are routinely placed in the top two or three in the annual independent Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey.”