Cycling epics: North Coast 500
The North Coast 500 (NC500) route is Scotland’s answer to the famous American Route 66. Starting and finishing in Inverness, the on-road route takes in 500 miles of fantastic landscapes in the north west of Scotland. Originally conceived as a route for driving, many cyclists are now seeing it as a superb opportunity for a multi-day journey. And the NC500 has plenty of challenges for cyclists, including steep gradients and hairpin bends. This summer, Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont took on the ultimate NC500 challenge, to ride the route non-stop. It took him just under 38 hours and a record of his impressive achievement was caught on this new film (in association with WildFox events).
At the time, Mark, who set a record for cycling 18,000 miles around the world in 2008, said: “This ride is the furthest I’ve ridden in one non-stop outing by a very long way. The previous PB was 270 miles. "The NC500 was exhausting but there were many highlights, too, because this part of the country is so beautiful and so rich in wildlife. I would thoroughly recommend it to other cyclists.”
More about the NC500
The #NC500 is a Visit Scotland and North Highland Initiative. Starting in Inverness it can be completed as a clockwise or anti-clockwise circle. It heads through the counties of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire, taking in spectacular scenery and famous attractions such as the Bealach Na Ba, voted as one of Britain’s best cycling climbs. Mark said: “As soon as I saw the route I knew I wanted to ride it.
Having cycled all over the world, I still believe Scotland has some of the best cycling, and my favourite area, outside of my familiar Perthshire training ground, is Scotland’s north coast.” But Mark was still surprised by how hard the route turned out to be. He says: “People have been asking about my average speed of 22km per hour, which isn’t the fastest, but they haven’t taken into account the terrain. “There are many sections of the NC500 that are very hilly. No one should underestimate this route but it is still something well worth riding and offers many rewards.” Most cyclists would probably choose to take at least five days, but most likely a week or more ,to ride the full route. (It’s said to be 516 miles but Mark clocked 521 miles while riding it.)