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Aberdeenshire man sets the fastest time at the Etape Caledonia 2021

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Mark Walker, a member of the Deeside Thistle cycling club, set the fastest time at Etape Caledonia 2021’s 85-mile event with a seriously quick 3 hours, 23 minutes and 29 seconds.

Mr Walker, from Newburgh in Aberdeenshire, competed alongside 5,400 other riders from across the country who were all raising money for their sponsored charities.

The 14th edition of the event, which was due to be held in May but was pushed back to September, had to change the usual route to allow for potato farmers to access their fields during the harvest.

This meant that the 85-mile route, which usually heads north from Pitlochry had to instead head south along much narrower roads providing the cyclists with new challenges.

Cyclists rode past the banks of Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel before ascending up the mighty Mt Schiehallion.

Many of the riders participating are doing so to raise money for special causes.

More than 250 riders were participating to raise funds for the event’s charity partners such as Marie Curie and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

The funds raised from the event will go towards essential care to people living with a terminal illness as well as emotional support to their loved ones.

The country’s only charity-funded air ambulance which relies entirely on public donations to fuel its life-saving flights will also benefit from the money raised.

Mr Walker is no stranger to the Etape event having experienced a close battle for the fastest time in 2016, missing out by only five seconds.

However this time he outraced all the competition to take the fastest time in under three and a half hours.

Damien Bird overcame serious health issues to take part in the Etape Caledonia 2021 riding on an e-bike.

The event also welcomed competitors on e-bikes for the first time including Damien Bird from Stonehaven.

Having suffered a heart attack in spring 2020 and been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy during the national lockdown, Mr Bird a veteran Etape cyclist had to make significant lifestyle changes.

This, unfortunately, included giving up on his passion for cycling, where he previously clocked up almost 3,700 miles a year.

He decided to invest in an e-bike to aid his recovery and his turbo-powered pedalling has brought him back to the event that kickstarted his passion for cycling years ago.

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