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Self Supported Munro Round Cycle Tour?

voicyclevoicycle Posts: 90
edited January 2019 in Tour & expedition
Any Cyclists PLUS Munro Baggers on here have any thoughts on the above?

I know there is an actual documented record for a 'Continuous Self Propelled Munro Round' where fell runners walk/run/cycle/kayak the whole journey with a support team and vehicle (I think the current record is 39 days). That's great and an amazing feat, but I don't have the fitness to challenge them even if I wanted to. What's more my style is to do it self-supported (except for making use of commercial ferries - kayaking isn't a priority for me in this dream). Even then I don't anticipate being fit enough to log any kind of significant record - it would really just be about the personal sense of accomplishment.

Compared to the 'self-propelled' method, the biggest challenge I can see (other than carrying all my own gear) is that on a supported tour you can through-hike a ridge and have your team meet you at the other side with your bike, where I'd have to make all walks into return-to-start routes in order to rejoin my steed. I haven't started looking seriously at route maps, but I expect this should add on a fair bit of time/mileage.

Part of the fun for me would be about picking out the right bike setup. I don't think I could manage a journey of that scale with the minimalism required for bikepacking, so it's probably a full pannier touring rig kind of adventure. BUT with a set of flared drop bars and the right wheel/tyre combination I bet I could do a bit of light gravel approach riding on my Dawes Galaxy Plus, particularly in situations where I've already offloaded most or all of the luggage. That strategising equipment choice bit seems especially exciting to me.

I think I'm probably at least two years out from even being able to seriously consider an endeavour of this scale, but it definitely fits my experience. Have done the WHW and GGW a couple times on MTB. My first big road tour was the NC500 a couple years ago, and I'm relatively new to hillwalking but enjoying it (and also a fairly experienced walker in general). The idea for this tour only came to me today, but I think the groundwork was laid when I did the long route on the Mull Sportive last summer and then felt I still had some energy and daylight left so I went and climbed Ben More in the afternoon.

I won't flood my post with links, but here's one indicative of the kind of stuff I've found whilst googling: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/ ... o_run-3467 Also lots of reading on the UKC forum.

Anyone know of someone attempting something like this? Any thoughts on route/gear/etc? I suspect I'll leave and revisit this thread several times over a long while if I'm actually going to do this, but initial thoughts would be much appreciated at this stage!

Cheers!
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Posts

  • The cycling between hills part of of a continuous Munro round was the strategy that I used, back in 2012. I see that it's 3 years since you posted this, but haven't subsequently posted with progress on your notion.

    In 2018, Emily Scott undertook such a journey, though being a young endurance athlete with hill fitness, her schedule would be a bit much for many.
    The biking bit is relatively trivial in terms of effort, compared to fitness and confidence travelling solo on mountains. There's about 450,000' of ascent.

    I bought a Kona Jake the Snake cyclocrosser, put on Schwabe Marathon plus tyres, bolted a heavy duty carrier on the back to use my Carradice touring panniers. On the mountains, I had a 46l Osprey Exos rucksack- which could be precariously slung atop the carrier when on the road sections on the bike.
    I took the cleated pedals off so that I could cycle in hill boots- or fell running shoes I put stiffeners made of alloy roof flashing into the running shoes to make pedalling more comfortable.
    I guess someone just doing the Munros might prefer an MTB, but as my journey also included the Welsh and English 3000's, there were more road miles for me. In hindsight, I'd still go for the cyclocrosser. Now though, I'd avoid the rim brakes as the sand and grit of hill access tracks soon wore then down.
    I didn't have a single puncture!


    As you say, with a bike, alone, you 'll have to work out the logistics of getting back to the bike after each segment of Munro walking; What can be an achievable day long 'loop' route in the mountain for one person isn't so for another- Having read how someone else ticked off some Munros in day then returned to their bike , you have to decide could you match that pace, and will you copy their strategy- or will you choose to 'overnight' in the hills because doing it in a day is too much. If so then a tent/bivvy/sleeping bag cooking gear etc has to been carried. And doing this for day after day after day, is way, way different to a long weekend in the hills where you haven't really left your safety bubble. You can lose weight for a few days and it won't harm you. Do it for months and not only can it derail your performance, it may be that you make dangerous errors of judgement up on the mountains. So it is an absolute necessity that you spend months planning your trip, poring over maps, again and again. Learning map and compass since you may not have charge or signal on a phone. Familiarising yourself with how you move on the hills, building your skills...Planning, planning, planning.


    Then there's the business of food, -where are you going to get it from- will you have places someone at home can parcel it up and send it in good time...Where are the shops en route, and will they stock what you want.... where will you get the cooker fuel... maybe you're thinking about cacheing food beforehand. Will it be there later, and can you find it... Is it too bulky to fit in your rucksack when you get it...will it provide enough calories.. can you stomach that stuff, day after day? How much of it can you carry ( and the less hill fit you are, the longer you'll take, so the more you have to carry- whereas the faster you are on the hills, the more sections of the route you'll have where all the weight is left down by the tent. If your bike gets stolen, game over, so you have to hide it... and so it goes. If you want the adventure enough, you can find a way.
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