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Turriff cyclist pedals over 2500 miles in Ride the North challenge

By Kyle Ritchie

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A Turriff man has cycled more than 2500 miles on the way to completing the Ride the North challenge.

Ian Hendry (56) set out to cycle every one of a network of temporary cycle routes set up in response to the pandemic.

Mr Hendry, who recently retired from the oil and gas industry and is a volunteer emergency responder with the Sandpiper Trust, used his summer to cycle the entire 2548 miles of the Ride the North 153 challenge, with much of it completed with his wife Lorraine.

He finished his journey with a cycle home from Banff taking in the local scenery.

Turriff cyclist Ian Hendry at the end of his challenge at the Turra Coo.
Turriff cyclist Ian Hendry at the end of his challenge at the Turra Coo.

He said: "“Ride the North 153 brought me to areas of the north-east that I didn’t know for cycling, whether than was down to Stonehaven and Inverbervie or up to the Moray Coast.

"We’ve had some fantastic weekends away and met lots of other cyclists doing the challenge.”

The 153-day challenge, which has been embraced by hundreds of north-east cyclists, commenced in May and draws to a close at the end of this week.

The nation was in the darkest days of lockdown, when the idea occurred to Neil Innes, organiser of Ride the North, an annual bike tour of the region, that sharing a handful of recommended routes as restrictions eased might be a good idea.

His planning rapidly progressed and six weeks later he published an entire network of local cycling routes – in total 158 routes – that would link towns across the whole of Aberdeenshire and Moray.

This initiative was backed by Nestrans and the local authorities gave permission for 2700 temporary bike-route signs to be erected.

Mr Innes, who joined Ian and Lorraine on their last challenge route, said: “The plan was to try and support hotels, campsites, cafés, shops, visitor attractions and the like across the whole area by motivating thousands of cycling days out or weekends away, while at the same time keeping our event alive.

"I didn’t think anyone would try to do the whole thing. It needs a lot of dedication as it's not just the cycling, it is the travelling around as well.

"Credit to Ian and Lorraine for diving into this and leading the way.

"With each route being allocated points, based on difficulty, the points scored online are logged on the event website to generate a scoreboard.

"The names Ian and Lorraine Hendry have been at the top of that scoreboard from start to finish.”

Ian and Lorraine Hendry cycling the last route from Banff to Turriff.
Ian and Lorraine Hendry cycling the last route from Banff to Turriff.

The ambitious plan gained the support of VisitScotland under a scheme seeking to encourage tourism and event businesses to be innovative in delivering services differently in a year when there would be a huge interest in holidays closer to home.

Mr Innes added: "The north-east of Scotland is a wonderful area for cycling. There are so many roads that carry little motor traffic and some stunning scenery.

"It is all a little more in focus at the moment with the visit of the Tour of Britain and I’m sure the area will generate more cycling visitors in the coming years.

"The route Ian and Lorraine completed on their final day along the River Deveron is so scenic and is such a great area for cycling.

"The whole plan with this was to get people to visit areas like this and explore somewhere different that they don't know."

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