The Black Route - 88.6 miles / 142.6 Km
The Black route is 88.6 miles long and has a total ascent of 6561 feet
It has been designed to give you hills, because we know you like it tough! It includes some of the hardest and steepest climbs in our area, and although some of these are quite short, the cumulative effect will take its toll. As you will see from the route profile, all the climbs (except Lomond hill) occur in the latter part of the course, and once you get to Wicks o' Baiglie, if you ain't going up, you are going down; a real roller coaster of a ride.
Although shorter than some other Sportives, it is still early in the year, so we think this is tough enough. However if you want more hills, let us know and we can add something extra in next year. One of the benefits of this route is the exceptionally quiet roads that you will encounter on most of these hills, and if you wipe the sweat from your eyes, there is fantastic scenery on all sides.
The Black route is therefore suitable for experienced Sportive riders, very fit club riders, and cyclists who are looking for a real challenge. The route begins at Loch Leven Community Campus and immediately turns east to leave Kinross. You will follow the eastern side of Loch Leven, passing through the small villages of Balgeddie, Kinesswood and Scotlandwell. Once beyond Scotlandwell, the roads become open and quieter with a fast descent to Auchmuir Bridge, before continuing eastwards into Leslie.
After bypassing Leslie High Street and after approximately 12 miles, Lomond is a nice introductory hill to get your heart rate up; an undulating climb of around 600ft over a distance of 2 miles, with a steep middle section of almost 10%. Once you reach the top, there is a short plateau giving spectacular views over Kinross-shire and Fife. Take extra care on the steep and winding descent, and try not to emulate one of our Kinross riders who came off on one of these bends and disclocated his shoulder.
Take a moment to look around as you pass through the conservation village of Falkland, which is a great place for friends and family to visit if you have come for the weekend. Watch out for our signs and marshals to guide you through Falkland and Freuchie, before you head north on some quiet flat roads to Newburgh, on the banks of the river Tay. You are now almost 30 miles into the ride, so look out for our first feed station if you want to stock up on some juice and cakes.
The route now travels westwards on wide flat roads through Abernethy and Aberargie and this is your last chance to take it easy before the hills. Follow our signs to the Dron crossroads, turn left, and you can see the first part of Wicks o' Baiglie rising into the distance. The climb profile is deceptive as the average gradient of 10% near the top of the first part includes a short flat section immediately afterwards. The real maximum gradient is probably around 20%, and then you've got the second part of the hill to follow. On reaching Glenfarg, there is sharp right turn up a steep hill past the church, so make sure to get in the right gear for this sudden change. The route then undulates towards Milnathort and the bottom of Stronachie hill. This is another two part climb with a fine view behind you over Loch Leven. Take care on the descent to Path of Condie and especially watch out for the occasional sheep or slow moving tractor.The climb of Pathstruie begins with a steep hairpin bend of around 20%, and then levels off for a gradual rise (usually against the wind) towards Dunning. If you want to come back to Kinross-shire another day, the descent into Dunning (the Dragon Hill) is the probably hardest climb in the area - in case you fancy trying the route the other way round! Therefore it also the fastest descent of the day and as there can be gravel or mud on this road, extreme care is required going down into Dunning, where you will find our second feed station.
A few cakes will set you up for the climb of Dunning hill, one of the best in Scotland with a rise of 275m over 5.5km. This is the longest continuous hill of the black route with the highest average gradient, and is a great climb once you find the right gear. It also has a real alpine feel as you clear the trees and see the route disappearing into the distance. The descent down into Glendevon is possibly the best part of the course, on a picturesque fast winding road which has reasonable visibility.
The Dunning Common climb is shared with the Red Route riders so once you come back down to normal elevations, at the Yetts O' Muckhart, be sure to take the right route at the split by turning west towards Muckhart, after which a left hand turn takes you to Vicars Bridge - a small bridge on a barely used road at the bottom of a steep sided valley. Now begins the longest climb of the day up to Knockhill, briefly interrupted early on by crossing the main A977 road. This is not so much a single climb, as a series of individual small roads rising steadily towards Knockhill. There can sometimes be fast cars and motorbikes on the latter part of this road, so take care when turning on to the A823 and cycling past the motor racing circuit.
This soon leads you to the bottom of Cleish hill, a gentle final climb which just beyond the top gives a fantastic view of Loch Leven and Kinross. One final fast descent and you finish with a flat 5 miles back to Kinross. Hopefully you have enjoyed the route and will come back next year with some friends to do it again.