Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

Featuring aqualining, rap running, bungee jumping, sky diving and off-road driving

10 of the best extreme sports activities to try in Scotland

Whether it’s jumping out of a plane, leaping off a cliff, or plunging down a river rapid in an inflatable armchair, Scotland has boundless possibilities for the adrenaline junkie in search of a hit. Better still, it has the best natural playground in which to do it. Here are some of our favourites.


Not likely to be confused with plaintive piano balladeer Aqualung, aqualining was launched just last month by Nae Limits in Perthshire. Essentially tightrope-walking over water, the warm-up includes wild swimming, plunge pooling and sliding, before embarking on the main event – combatting the world’s first commercial slack line over water. We recommend going as a gang, with the best Charlie Chaplin (circa Circus) impression getting a beer at the bar after.
Nae Limits, Ballinluig, near Pitlochry, Perthshire, 0845 017 8177.

Wild swimming

Yes, yes we know. The tropics it ain’t. But Scotland has some of the most beautiful spots for jumping in and indulging in a spot of the wet stuff, whether its ethereal waterfalls or lush lochs – just don’t forget your wetsuit, depending on where you decide to take the plunge. We have many a favourite, but for the ultimate experience check out the Fairy (or Faerie) Pools in Skye. Nestled just near Glenbrittle at the foot of the Black Cuillin Mountains, this is pretty much as enchanting as Scotland’s wild swimming scene gets. Other top picks include the waters around Rob Roy’s cave near Inversnaid, and Firkin Point at Loch Lomond.
Various venues, see for more.

Gorge scrambling

Whether you’re heading up or down, gorge scrambling offers the chance to see the world from some pretty unique point of views. There are a load of adventure companies to choose from, if you’re looking for some top-notch instruction and scene-stealing scenery, so opt for one with gorge heights and water speeds to suit your wants. Arran Adventure Company offers scrambling by the North Glen Sannox, just a short bus ride from Brodick.
Arran Adventure Company, Auchrannie Road, Brodick, Isle of Arran, 01770 302234.

Rap running

Less a quick sprint round the block listening to Jay Z, more a variation on abseiling – rap running is more than just a pretty cool name. A twist on the abseiling norm – you descend the rock face facing forward. Nae Limits run afternoon sessions just outside Pitlochry. Though those keen to try their hands – and head for heights – indoors first could always head for a confidence building sesh at the ever brilliant Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, complete with 25m descent.
Nae Limits, Ballinluig, near Pitlochry, Perthshire, 0845 017 8177; Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, South Platt Hill, Newbridge, 0131 333 6333.

Cliff jumping

Those with serious wanderlust may well have tried cliff jumping in sunnier climes, but Scotland is far from shabby when it comes to offering up its own natural terrain from which to take the plunge. Often referred to as ‘tombstoning’ by its more diehard followers, cliff jumping is not for the faint of heart, with instructors on hand to talk you through exactly how to launch and enter the water. Essentially canyoning without the ropes, the folks at Freespirits offer a top jump of 40 feet for the truly brave, with amazing views of Loch Rannoch and the surrounding areas going begging to boot.
Freespirits, Kinloch Rannoch, Pitlochry, 01887 840 400.

Bungee jumping

As any bone fide adrenaline junkie will attest, the best thrills can come in the most serene of places, and that’s certainly the case with the UK’s first static bungee jump platform, the Highland Fling, hanging high above the wild waters of the River Garry, by Killiecrankie. Set 40m above the ground, the whitewater below only adds to an already awesome experience, though the 50mph leap gives you little time to take it all in.
Bungee Jump Scotland, Killiecrankie Visitor Centre, 0845 366 5844.

Quad biking

Leave your fear of doing an Ozzy Osborne at the door and chances are you’ll be whizzing through water, mud and woodland hills like a pro(ish) in no time. MadMax Adventures, just 10 miles outside Edinburgh in Kirknewton village, have a neat collection of Yamaha Grizzly and offer quad biking safaris around the local park and woodland trails. Alternatively, head further north in Perthshire, to Strathbraan close to Dunkeld, where Scottish Quads have over 50 quads and 1000 acres of farmland to use as your playground.
See Scottish Quads or MadMax Adventures for more info.

River bugging / adventure tubing

If you have the bugging prowess of this List writer, chances are your helmet and padding are going to come in very handy – but the adrenaline rush is more than worth it for the rough and tumble of the ride. Brought over to Scotland from New Zealand, you’re essentially white water rafting in a huge inflatable armchair, while thick webbed gloves protect you from the rocks below as you whoosh down the rapids of the River Tummel and River Tay. Look out too for a variation on the bugging theme, Adventure Tubing, with Nae Limits.
Check out Splash for River Bugging, Dunkeld Road, Aberfeldy, 01887 829706; and Nae Limits for Adventure Tubing, Ballinluig, near Pitlochry, Perthshire, 0845 017 8177.

Sky diving

Operating out of Strathallan Airfield, near the town of Auchterarder, Skydive Strathallan is a good shout for the adventure seeker with a head for heights. The popular outfit is open to newbies, and introduces and trains over 1500 beginners for their first jump every year, as solo jumps or tandem skydives. Those a little less brave can come and enjoy it as a spectator sport.
Skydive Strathallan, near Auchterarder.

Off-road driving

Based just 10 miles south of Perth, the Scottish Off Road Driving Centre offers up an array of natural and man-made obstacles to tackle as you embark on arguably Scotland’s most challenging off-road playground. Nervous drivers need not apply, though hands-on training ensures you can make the most of the specially designed 4×4 experience.
The Scottish Off Road Driving Centre, Glentarkie Estate, Fife, 

IF ever a car were meant to fly, it certainly wasn’t the tiny Nissan Micra.

But that hasn’t stopped the four-wheeled fanatics behind Sydney’s Top Gear Festival in Sydney from sending it skyward.

The diminutive hatchback will be the unlikely star attraction at the March 8-9 festival as it launches 73m from a crane in an Australian-first “car bungee jump”.

“Jump” might be a tad generous – if gravity has anything to do with it, the vehicle and its daredevil driver will plummet directly to the ground below.

Giant rubber bands will halt their descent of course – at least that’s the theory – but it doesn’t subtract from the craziness of the scheme.

But then, that’s exactly what the crowds come for, and it is what has made Top Gear a global phenomenon for more than a decade.



... and GONE!

… and GONE! Source: Supplied

Images for Top Gear Festival Australia

Going …. going … Source: Supplied


More than 50,000 motoring fans are expected at this year’s event, drawn to Eastern Creek to watch cars plummet from the sky and all manner of motorised machines go head to head in a battle for supremacy.

Top Gear presenter James May, who will headline the festival along with other stars of the UK and Aussie versions of the show, said an “Ultimate Speed Showdown” would see an F1 racing car go up against a superbike, a rally car, a V8 supercar and two other racing vehicles in a handicapped five-lap race.

“We’ve mixed up cars and bikes from different racing disciplines and put them together around the track to see which one would actually win if there was a free-for-all,” he said.

Other highlights include a display of Ayrton Senna’s legendary MP4/4 McLaren F1, an attempt by Red Bull F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo to beat Mark Webber’s Eastern Creek lap record and a UK versus Australia edition of “car football”, with the Top Gear hosts behind the wheel.

These are big-picture attractions that take months of planning to perfect, but May said most started on a much smaller scale.



Another car goes off the Top Gear car bungee jump.

Another car goes off the Top Gear car bungee jump. Source: Supplied


“The team that comes up with these ideas and makes them happen is surprisingly small,” he said.

“It sounds terribly quaint, but we do quite often just sit around at the pub with a piece of paper and scribble things down.”

Event director Chris Secker said the chemistry between Top Gear’s stars helped make the show and its titular festival such a hit.

“The banter between them is always so good, and I think they guys have maintained their credibility throughout the years,” he said.

“They just say what they think and they don’t hold back.”


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With temperatures hitting minus-42, the Yukon Arctic Ultra may or may not the most challenging ultramarathon on earth, but it is certainly the chilliest Martin Hartley and Montane

The Yukon Arctic Ultra (YAU) sounds less like an ultramarathon than the premise for a Jack London novel. Beginning in the town of Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon province, participants have their choice of a standard marathon distance (26.2 miles) or extreme distances of 100, 300 or, in odd-numbered years, 430 miles. Temperatures are typically between zero and minus-10 degrees Fahrenheit, although it has been as cold as minus-42. Racers must tote their own gear on the point-to-point course, much of which is laid out atop the frozen Yukon River and frozen-over lakes.

There are no stages. The amount of hours a racer chooses to sleep as opposed to marking off mileage is up to them. “We’ve never had anybody quit because of a lack of physical fitness,” says YAU’s founder, Robert Pollhammer, who first staged the race in 2003. “The biggest part of it is mental–and of course we’ve had cases of frostbite.”

The Yukon Arctic Ultra: may or may not the most challenging ultramarathon on earth, but it is certainly the chilliest.

2.3_Arctic4_MartinHartleyandMontanePollhammer, 40, created the event in 2003 after running a similar race, then called he Iditasport, in Alaska. The YAU trail follows the identical path of the Yukon Quest, an annual 1,000-mile dogsled race that runs between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska. Martin Hartley and Montane


This year’s series of races began last Thursday and ended on Wednesday. Last year, exactly half of those who entered the 430-mile foot race finished, with Casper Wakefield of Denmark winning in just under 8 days. Only two of the 16 entrantants finished the 300-mile race. Martin Hartley and Montane


While ultramarathoning has never been more popular in the U.S., the YAU is virtually unknown to (or unloved by?) Yanks. Only three of the 38 competitors in this year’s 100- and 300-mile races are Americans, with all 16 entrants in the 300-mile race hailing from Europe. Martin Hartley and Montane

2.3_Arctic5_MartinHartleyandMontaneIn 2008 Keith Thaxter, a 47-year-old Whitehorse local who regularly finishes marathons in 3:05, crossed the line in 6:50, after enduring high winds and white-out conditions. “Did I win?” Thaxter asked an official. Yes, he was told, as the six other runners had already dropped out. Martin Hartley and Montane

2.3_Arctic2_MartinHartleyandMontaneBesides mandatory gear, such as a compass, a whistle, a headlamp, batteries, a windproof lighter and a saw, those entering the 430-mile trek must tote a GPS, crampons and an avalanche shovel. A satellite phone is recommended. Everyone totes their own water as it’s hard to melt ice. Martin Hartley and Montane

2.3_Arctic3_MartinHartleyandMontaneNo one has ever died. Moose and wolves have occasionally been spotted on the trails and there’s always the possibility of bears if the weather warms up. Hypothermia and frostbite are not uncommon. “The reason that anyone does this this is because they are looking for an adventure” says Pollhammer.” Martin Hartley and Montane

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Inspirational MPORA

Just some of the people who’ve inspired us this year. L-R: Carissa Moore, Loris Vergier, Carlos Burle, Chloe Kim, Tom Carroll.

Whether it be Nico Müller throwing down a colossal method over an Alaskan spine, Shane Dorian conquering mega waves in the middle of the ocean or Rachel Atherton decimating downhill courses around the world, action sports has the power to stun, amaze and excite. These athletes are at the top of their game and never fail to inspire us with their display of bravery, skill and determination.

The past year has seen some incredible feats and we’ve selected our five most remarkable and inspiring moments from the last year.




The Paris-Brest-Paris race is said to be one of the hardest long distance cycle races in the world.

A 770 mile (1,280km) round trip – cycling through the night – which has to be completed in under 90 hours.

Of the 5,000 Lycra clad cyclists who line-up for the challenge, nearly a thousand do not make it.

But Drew Buck, a 65-year-old from Somerset, has not only completed it six times but done it on a 100-year-old bike dressed as a traditional Breton onion seller – known as an Onion Johnny.

“I rank at the bottom,” he laughs. “But with long distance cycling you’re competing against the event rather than other people, it’s a bit like climbing Everest.”

In 2003, on a triplet – a bicycle made for three – he crossed the line with two others with less than two hours to go.

And two years ago, on a “delightful” 1900 bicycle, he competed nattily dressed as Maurice Garin – the winner of the first Tour de France in 1903.

Fake onions

But it was in 2007, on a back pedalling Hirondelle bike made in France in the 1920s, that he bagged the race’s originality award.

“You have to pedal backwards on the hills, for the lower gears,” he said.

Drew BuckOn the road Mr Buck has been flagged down by people wanting to buy onions

“It’s like a Michael Jackson moonwalk, you feel like you’re going backwards while you’re going forwards.

“But it’s just a delight because you don’t expect it to work.”

Pedalling backwards up all the hills, the 65-year-old ran the gauntlet of French villagers waving him on while he was dressed as a traditional onion seller with a string of onions hanging from his handlebars.

It was a look that proved so authentic that on a practice ride through Oxfordshire he was waived down by a passing motorist wanting to buy his wares.

“I ride exactly as they rode in the 1900s, I make no compromises – padded shorts are not allowed,” he said.

“But real onions don’t last, after 100 miles or so they fall off, so I admit I did use artificial ones.”

Catnap master

But it is as a self-confessed “stamina freak” that he has become a bit of a legend of the long distance cycling event.

On heavy antique bikes, weighing more than two and a half times the weight of a modern bike, he not only clocks up over 250 miles a day but does it on just a few hours sleep.

“I am the master of the 10 minute cat nap,” he said.

“If you’re fast you can sleep for two hours but I’m chasing the clock all the time so if I can’t keep cycling I’ll lay down on the verge, set my alarm and sleep for 10 minutes.

“It refreshes you, I can be asleep before I hit the ground – I’ve even slept standing up leaning against a gate for a few minutes.”

One of only eight British riders to have completed six PBPs, as they are known, Mr Buck is hoping to take part in the next ride in 2015.

“With long distance cycling there is a certain degree of fitness,” he said.

“It’s also in the head – many a person far fitter than me has given up because their head gives up.

“As you get older your strength fades but your stamina stays with you.

“So whether I’ll have to go back to a modern bike for 2015… I don’t know but I hope not.”

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MPORA profile picture for Anne Caroline Chausson

Anne Caroline Chausson

Anne-Caroline Chausson was the dominant force in women’s mountain biking during the 1990s and 2000s. Between 1996 and 2005 she achieved nine downhill world titles, remarkably only missing out in 2004. She was crowned Dual Slalom World Champion in consecutive years in 2000 and 2001, and became the Four-Cross World Champion in the following years. In total, she achieved 13 rainbow jerseys, making her the most decorated female in mountain bike history.

Her talent on two wheels does not fall exclusively on mountain biking – Chausson is a world class BMX rider too. When women’s BMX racing was announced as a new sport for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Chausson was chosen to represent France. She did not disappoint and won the gold medal. The women’s race took place before the men’s, making her the first BMX Olympic gold medallist.

Chausson was born In Dijon in 1977. Her BMX Olympic gold medal in 2008 means that she has gone the full circle on two wheels; she actually began her interest in cycling in BMX racing, competing up until the age of 16. The move onto a mountain bike soon proved to be the correct decision, as she became Downhill Junior World Champion in her debut season.
Whilst a lot of mountain bikers are adrenaline fuelled and slightly crazy characters (you’d have to be to fly down those hills), Chausson is quite quiet and shy. She chooses to let her riding skills do the talking though, excelling in multiple disciplines such as downhill, four-cross and dual slalom.

Sir Chris Hoy starts action, Spadger's 6 Day Night 2013

Sir Chris Hoy starts action, Spadger’s 6 Day Night 2013

When Sir Chris Hoy announced his retirement in April, he confessed relief, not about no longer racing, but at having finally made the announcement.

“I called a press conference all prepared, but it was like breaking up with someone,” said Hoy, who had months earlier decided on retirement. “Until you actually utter the words – even though you know what you are going to say – it is tough. But once I had got it out, it was definitely a relief.”

Hoy didn’t have much trouble adjusting to life away from the track. “Oh, I can still hurt myself,” he laughed. “I still push myself in some way every day. I still go to the gym or go on the turbo because I still love riding my bike so much. I don’t enjoy the pain, but I enjoy the feeling of having done a good session – and being able to enjoy some wine at night, as a reward.”

For many athletes, adjusting to post-competition life can be difficult, but Hoy avoided the no-racing blues by throwing himself into Hoy Bikes. “I had been planning the bike company since 2010 and I’ve always loved being involved with bike design, and now – trying to make cycling more accessible – it was the right time.”

Then there’s his new love – car racing. After doing track days with Jason Kenny, Hoy was bitten by the racing bug. “It’s the same focus as racing a bike on the track, it’s a massive thrill,” he enthused.
Radical Sports Cars suggested he started racing in 2013, and by the end of his rookie year he was nudging their competition’s podium. “I ended up sixth overall in the championship but ultimately I’d love to race the Le Mans 24!” he said.

This article was first published in the December 19 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital editionUK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!


In a terrible weekend for professional cyclists, two young promising riders have passed away. The 21-year old Swiss rider Felix Baur died after a road accident in Spain. Spanish authorities found a bruised man on the roadside who was brought to into hospital. It was unclear initially who the cyclist was but Baur’s team, Atlas Personal-Jakroo later confirmed his identity.

The accident happened at 10 am Wednesday morning when a car collided with him. The driver of the car was tested for his blood alcohol levels which were returned negative. Spanish authorities are further investigating the circumstances of the accident.

Atlas Personal-Jakroo had been at a training camp in the Spanish city of Valencia, preparing for the upcoming season. Baur was a promising rider with eighth place overall at the Tour of Bern his best result in 2013.

In a second tragic fatality over the weekend, Dominican Euris Vidal died in Pueblo Nuevo, in the province of Santiago, Dominican Republic, following a robbery. The 26-year-old was competitive on both the road and track and was to ride with Predator Cycling in 2014.

Vidal was shot in the neck as he attempted to foil two men mid-robbery. He was taken to the José María Cabral y Báez hospital but died shortly after. The Dominican Cycling Federation expressed its condolences.

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Map of the Dominican Republic

Euris Vidal, a rider with Foundation Cycling New York, was fatally shot on Sunday in the Dominican Republic, according to press reports.

Vidal, 26, reportedly was killed in Santiago while trying to prevent a robbery. Police were said to have shot one of the assailants.

A message on the team’s Facebook page read: “We are saddened by the loss of Euris Vidal to a senseless act of violence in the DR. God bless you and you will truly be missed.”

The Dominican Cycling Federation likewise posted an item on its website, saying it “expresses its regret at the death of … one of the best riders on both road and track.”

Vidal, a sprinter who finished 13th in the 2013 USA Crits series, had raced in the United States for several years and was to have joined the Incycle-Predator Components team in 2014.

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Leg amputation no barrier for athlete

The West AustralianBrant Garvey. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

Since he was a child, Brant Garvey has been determined to prove he can do everything able-bodied people do.

The above-knee amputee is completing feats beyond most people with two legs, after breaking a world record in the Busselton Ironman this month.

The 28-year-old’s time of 11hr 49min. 20sec. was the fastest in the world for an above-knee amputee and is even more remarkable given he took up riding and running only about eight months ago.

The wheelchair basketball champion and avid swimmer decided to challenge himself further in triathlons.

“I started running on my every day (artificial) leg, which was very painful, so I eventually raised $20,000 to get a running leg and another for riding,” he said.

By September, the Trigg athlete was in London competing in the world triathlon championships, where he finished sixth in his category and shaved 27 minutes off his first triathlon time.

This month Garvey faced his biggest challenge yet – the WA ironman triathlon event – involving a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a marathon run.

“Nothing compares to the ironman – it’s the ultimate,” he said.

“Getting your body to move in one direction for 12 hours and 226km, it’s a whole new world,” he said. “I loved the entire event.”

He now has his sights set on the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

“When I was younger, it was my way of proving I had a disability but I was just like any other kid,” he said.

“It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do what everyone else did.”

Garvey is looking for sponsors:

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