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Cyclist's descend on Tongue 

8th June 2016

Almost 90 cyclists took part in a great weekend of cycling and Mackay Country hospitality as part of Cycling in the Straths 2016. The event is organised by the Mackay Country Trust biennially to raise the profile of the north Highlands and to raise money for local projects.


SSE Strathy North Joint Community Fund supported this year’s event with an award of £1,260 to help stage the event.


Cyclists came from as far afield as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow to sample what the north has to offer with many visitors staying one night or more. Some participants had never visited Sutherland before and vowed to return on holiday.


One participant said: “The scenery is incredible and as a result I will definitely be visiting the area again soon and many more times to come I'm sure.”


The main cycling event saw 25 participants tackle the Ben Hope Trial, a 46-mile circuit via Altnaharra and Strathmore. First home was Anne Baddon, Doll who completed the course in 3:23:14. Anne was closely followed by Donald Morrison, Kyle of Lochalsh who crossed the finish line at 3:24:22.


The Strathnaver Challenge saw riders head east to Bettyhill on a 63-mile circuit via Altnaharra, along Strathmore before returning to Tongue. Erick Kennedy was the first home with a time of 3:26:15 and the first lady home was Mary Eagleson, Dingwall with a time of 3:58:59.


Following the days cycling Davy Cowan entertained the crowd in the Ben Loyal Hotel. The next day 22 cyclists set off from Tongue to ride to Melness in the fun family cycle. The Melness Community Centre provided a delicious BBQ and a small art exhibition showcasing local artists was on view in the Hall.


The event raised £2,023 for the Mackay Country Trust to carry out community projects across Mackay Country as well as supporting local businesses through increased tourism spend. The Melness Community Centre also benefited from the event with their own fundraising on Sunday.


Due to the success of this year’s event, and requests from cyclists for an annual event the Mackay Country Trust are looking at the possibility of running the event again in 2017.

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