With the recent interest in, and growing numbers of cyclo-sportive rides across the UK and Europe, it was bound to happen that the bigger rides would be oversubscribed, and interest would devolve to some of the less well-known rides. Gran Fondo d’Ardbeg on Sunday August 5, 2007, is just one such ride.

This 100-mile ride has taken place on the Inner Hebridean island of Islay for several years and started as simply ‘something to do’ for the local members of Velo Club d’Ardbeg, sometimes attracting riders from the mainland, sometimes not.

For 2007 the ride is prepared, if that is the correct word, for the possible influx of more riders, attracted by quiet single track roads and eight malt whisky distilleries. The ride takes cyclists past five of these distilleries and incorporates a half-way stop at V C d’Ardbeg’s spiritual home (pun intended) The Old Kiln Cafe at Ardbeg distillery.

In contrast to almost all of the major, high-profile sportives, the Gran Fondo is a ‘come-as-you-are ride. Aside from the stop at Ardbeg, and the finish at Debbie’s Cafe in Bruichladdich, there are no organised feed stops, no marshals, no motorcycle outriders, no specified completion time and no awards. But then there’s no entry fee either. Islay is also pretty flat, though there is the occasional steep bit to stretch the legs.

The 2007 edition has been designated by the organisers as a Braveheart Fund, Fundraising Ride. If you fancy taking part we would heartily suggest that you garner as much sponsorship in favour of this important cause for Scottish cycling as you can. A downloadable sponsorship form available on velo club d’ardbeg page on thewashingmachinepost and a detailed route map will be available nearer the event date.

For further details about the Gran Fondo check www.thewashingmachinepost.net.