Four friends have completed a 65-mile cycling challenge around Aberdeenshire to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Darren Anderson, 50, Darren Milne, 32, Robert Cowan, 41, and Mark Wood, 40, all colleagues at Monitor Systems in Aberdeen, took on the challenge last weekend.
The group had planned on carrying out the 65-mile cycle at the Etape Loch Ness event – a closed road cycle sportive around the shores of Loch Ness.
However with the event, which was set to take place last Sunday, being postponed due to coronavirus restrictions, they decided to start their own challenge on home turf.
Darren Milne, a design engineer, said: “We all decided to head to Etape Loch Ness mostly for the challenge.
“We all got a bit more serious about cycling last year due to several of us having family members who have had health scares recently.
“Once we started upping the distance and speed a bit, the more we thought it would be good to set a target.
“Each of us chose Macmillan because of the work they do. Some of us have relatives that have been affected by cancer and have had help from them.
“We have raised £740 so far – and are hoping to at least double this to £1500.
“A lot of our suppliers and clients from work (Monitor Systems) have helped by donating and pledging, so we are hopeful we could raise considerably more.
“Also, our managing director Brian Sinclair has kindly donated a large chunk to Macmillan as well.”
Planned by Darren Anderson, the route taken by the team included ‘The Suie’, which has a maximum gradient of 12.5% over 2.1km.
“I came up with the idea to carry out the challenge in Aberdeenshire,” Darren Milne added.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time until we actually had to do it… We just had to wait for the restrictions to lift and for everyone to be available, which ended up being the weekend we should have competed in the Etape Loch Ness anyway.
“It was definitely a challenge. The route that was planned by Darren A was the same length as the Etape but involved slightly more climbing. In particular, The Sluie – one of the toughest climbs in Aberdeenshire.
“Also on the Etape, you have feed stations and places to refill your water and help with mechanical repairs and so on.
“Doing it unsupported added an extra element to the challenge which in the future, we will likely plan around better so we aren’t left rationing water between stops.
“We’re really looking forward to heading to Etape in August. It’s quite an early start for the closed road race so we’ve managed to book a house for the full weekend to hopefully enjoy a few beers after as well – if we aren’t all too tired.”