Page last updated at 23:04 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 00:04 UK

Cyclists saddling up for events

Danny MacAskill
YouTube sensation Danny MacAskill will be showing off his skills

Highland Perthshire is celebrating all things bicycle-related, ahead of the weekend's Etape Caledonia ride.

A cycling festival is taking place in Aberfeldy featuring stunt groups, riding workshops, bike repair classes and a display of antique cycles.

Then on Sunday, more than 3,500 people will join the Etape race over 81 miles, starting and finishing in Pitlochry.

It is the only cycle event in Britain where all the roads travelled on are closed - which has angered some locals.

One of the highlights of the Perthshire Cycling Festival is expected to be performances by Danny MacAskill, whose bike stunts on YouTube have attracted millions of viewers.

Good for you

Emma Burtles, one of the organisers, said: "The idea behind this is obviously to have fun but also to try to encourage people to think about cycling instead of using the car to get to school or work.

"Cycling's a fantastic way of getting around, it's good for the environment, but it's also very good for you and a half-hour bike ride every day would find you in very good stead to live till you are at least 100, I'm sure.

"So it's good, and it's quick, and it's efficient over short distances, and I really hope that we see more cycling in the coming year."

RAF competitors
More than 3,500 people will compete in the Etape, including RAF members

This year will be the biggest Etape Caledonia so far, with the number of participants almost double that of last year.

Organiser Jo Dytch said: "The success of Chris Hoy at the Olympics has really boosted cycling this year.

"It's still the only closed-road event in the UK for cycling, so I think that's a huge draw and obviously Highland Perthshire is really beautiful.

"Eighty-one miles is never going to be easy and there's a couple of fairly gruelling hill climbs, but we're getting quite a broad spectrum of people now.

"In the first year, I think it was very much the cycling community - but it's definitely broadening out."

However, some locals are angry at the disruption which will be caused.

Brendan Murphy from the Anti Closed Road Event said: "Bicycling events of various natures are becoming legion; they're popping up all over the place, and in none of these other places are the roads closed.

"Due to the remoteness of this area people are quarantined and isolated in their houses and for the purposes of social gatherings, carrying out their business, commuting to work and church they just can't do anything.

"We've objected from the outset to the closure of the roads but we're emphatic that we do not object to cyclists or people taking part in events."



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