New fun bike event in Ballater

A new fun and inclusive bike festival for all ages and abilities will be taking place in Ballater between Friday 23rd and Sunday 25th September.

The inaugural Thrive Bike is a weekend for mountain and road bikers, as well as non-bikers, to come and enjoy different trails, try out cycles from top brands and test their navigation skills in the Ballater Dash and Reliability Rides. Music and local food are among other highlights including children’s activities and a talk from storyteller and bike adventurer Lee Craigie of The Adventure Syndicate.

The Thrive Bike Team – Andy Lewis, Ben Allum, Richard Watts, Kate Stewart and Susan Allum – wanted to create a festival where everyone could enjoy the benefits of the local environment whilst reflecting the values of responsible tourism. Susan said:

Biking is such an accessible sport, whatever your age or fitness level, and in Scotland, and particularly around us here in the Cairngorms, we have the most stunning trails. Thrive Bike is very much welcoming everyone, bikers and non-bikers, families and those of all abilities, to come and enjoy this beautiful area and a fun weekend full of activities. All of us behind this event know ourselves how good the natural environment is for our wellbeing, and we want to showcase the fantastic trails and scenery we have here but also the local food, hospitality and other brilliant businesses that make Ballater and the East Cairngorms such a great destination.”

The weekend’s activities include guided and self-guided rides, on road, gravel and trails and a chance to demo new bikes from top brands. Test your navigation and route planning skills in the Dash or take the Reliability Ride (26 or 125km) at your own pace, which the elite Alba Development Road Team will be joining, stopping for coffee and cake on the way, before relaxing at the end of the day with the film night or inspiring presentation from Lee Craigie of The Adventure Syndicate.

As well as a children’s play area, climbing wall, stunt show and disco; you can recharge from local food trucks on the greens; learn how to improve your health and wellness from a range of coaches, from foundation and personal training to breathing your way to better health and sports performance; and explore with Grampian Disability Sports how their bikes can open up biking for all abilities.

Learn too about how we can all enjoy the benefits of our outdoor space at the same time protecting the environment for future generations by chatting to Nature Scot and Forestry and Land Scotland.

Entry to Thrive Bike Festival is free, with tickets available for purchase for specific activities. Advance booking is necessary for certain events; demo bikes, guided rides, the talk and film night (full details at Bike hire will be available, but visitors are advised to bring their own where possible.

The Thrive Team’s aspiration is to – over time – build a recognised event of a world class standard, which balances our responsibilities towards the land, landowners, users, flora and fauna, while at the same time aiding the development of mountain biking in the area and protecting the environment for the benefit of current and future generations.

“This is Thrive Bike’s first year,” explains Susan, “And will be the foundation upon which to improve year on year.”

Profits from Thrive Bike will be invested in the local trail network, working with landowners, the Aberdeenshire Trail Association and existing, sanctioned projects. 

Keen mountain biker Andy Lewis, who will also be at the event with his wellbeing business, Highland Breathwork, said:   

This event is exciting as not only is it, genuinely, inclusive, giving everyone at every level a chance to try new trails, bikes and meet like-minded people, but the profits are going back into local bike trails. The better we can make the trail network, the more we can all enjoy being in the outdoors, and make it work for bikers, landowners and locals for all to benefit and enjoy. The fact that the whole event is filled by people and businesses from Aberdeenshire or a connection with Ballater, is what makes it special, as well as knowing that it is so brilliantly run with the environment, community and local growth so front and centre.” 

The event aims to bring adventure tourism back and away from its more common association with extreme adventure races, to allow people of all fitness and ages to enjoy the holistic benefits of being in the outdoors, as well as working Cairngorm National Park and Scottish Disability Sport, to open up the magic and value of the landscapes to different abilities.

BikePark Wales Unveils Re-opening Plans

BikePark Wales has confirmed it will be re-opening to riders on Monday 26th April.

Located in the heart of Gethin Forest in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons near Merthyr Tydfil, BikePark Wales is the UK’s biggest purpose-built mountain biking resort.

All riders will need to pre-book and daily pedal passes will be limited to control numbers. Strict Covid control measures will also be in operation across the site, including disinfecting all hire equipment after every use, Perspex screens at all payment points, card payments only, one-way systems and hand sanitising stations.

“It has been an incredibly tough winter for everyone, but we have been working tirelessly throughout lockdown to improve the bike park and we are so excited to share what we have done with visitors,” said BikePark Wales’ Martin Astley.

 “The site has been completely transformed and almost every aspect of the operation has been given some love,” he added.

Among the major improvements are four brand new trails, extra parking, faster check-in, a more efficient uplift service and an improved après ride experience.  A stunning new five-kilometre-long beginners’ downhill mountain bike trail will also open on 26th April and will be running hosted ride experiences from May 2021. 

Ideal for competent bike riders looking for a first taste of off-road excitement, BikePark Wales’ green trail ‘Kermit’ delivers all the thrills and fun of downhill mountain biking with bermed corners, rock slabs, roller coaster sections and tree-lined flow sections. With a vehicular uplift service to transport riders to the top of the trails, bike and equipment hire, coaching, guiding and on-site café, BikePark Wales has everything for an incredible day on the mountain – suitable for all levels, from beginners to pro mountain bikers.

Pre-booking for pedal passes, bike hire, beginners’ packages and uplift booking will be open from 9am on Friday, 9th April ahead of the site re-opening on Monday 26th April. 

For more information and to book visit

Ride & Seek Announces Two Stages of Marco Polo Cycling Expedition

Ride & Seek, an adventure cycling company offering itineraries that follow in the footsteps of historical figures, is thrilled to announce its most ambitious project to date: The Marco Polo Expedition.

The goal of this newly created tour is to cycle from Venice, Italy to Beijing, China in seven distinct stages. The first two stages are scheduled to run in September 17 – October 14, 2020, leading riders 1,900 km from Venice to Athens, Greece over 28 days. Guests will cycle down the coast from Italy through Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece, riding from harbour to harbour.  Accommodation ranges from charming Soviet-style hotels to agriturismos and modern boutique hotels.


“Our Epic Adventures are all created with a sense of discovery at their core, and this tour fulfills that in abundance,” said Ride & Seek Founder Dylan Reynolds. “Marco Polo is one of the great travelers in history and in many ways, he embodies the spirit of the tours we run.”

Polo was a Venetian merchant who journeyed across Asia at the height of the Mongol Empire. He first set out at age 17 with his father and uncle, travelling overland along what later became known as the Silk Road. Upon reaching China, Marco Polo entered the court of powerful Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, who dispatched him on trips to help administer the realm. Marco Polo remained abroad for 24 years.

Silk trading route between China and India

STAGE 1 – Venice to Dubrovnik
Leaving Venice by boat the first stage embraces the essence of island-hopping, which lies at the heart of this tour. We negotiate our way down the stunning Dalmatian coast via Marco Polo’s alleged birthplace of Korcula and take in such jewels as Hvar and Split on our way to the enchanting city of Dubrovnik. 12-days/11-nights, 738 km, September 17-29 2020

STAGE 2 – Dubrovnik to Athens
Leaving Dubrovnik we quickly enter the beguiling country of Montenegro before jumping on to the road-less-travelled through fascinating Albania, a true tour highlight and phenomenal cycling destination. Our final week takes us first to Corfu, before heading inland towards Athens. 16-days/15-nights, 1,050 km, September 29 – October 14, 2020

For more information, visit