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NC500 suggestions

I have decided to do the NC500 in 4 days next year as a charity event, however not sure the best way to go about it as in how to cycle it.
There will be 2 of us doing it so 250 miles each with effect or slightly more for the stronger rider, but we are looking at 125 miles a day or 62 miles each.
But would it be the better option to do say 20 mile stints, 62 mile stints or do it in time rather than miles so 2 hour stint each every day?

We are both capable of it i think, this year we did 3 days at 74 miles each day .

Any suggestions or hints and tips on doing this type of thing.

Posts

  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,704
    Do it in time splits rather than miles as it is considerably hillier than I anticipated, and I drove it!
    Due to publicity the roads have become much busier than they used to be. Expect a camper van to be coming round every corner on narrow roads.
    The scenic part is the west, the east not so much.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
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  • thegreatdividethegreatdivide Posts: 5,084
    edited November 2019
    Don't ride it in June, July or August. May is the best month for reduced traffic, weather and lack of midgies. September is OK for traffic and weather, not for midgies. Although the latter will means you'll do it in the fastest time.

    Where do you plan to stay? You need to book places months and months in advance.
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 8,859
    Wild camp - no worries with accommodation then 😉
  • alexfthealexfthe Posts: 81
    edited November 2019
    Overall I'd say time is a better way to do the splits than miles, but I think you should plan out the first day really specifically by mileage because it will be the toughest of the whole trip. However you divide up the first day I think you absolutely must do a rider swap just as you head out of Applecross and I'll explain why a bit further down.

    If I were making the relay plan then I think I'd have Rider A do the first 40ish miles out of Inverness, then have Rider B take over for 26ish miles to the top of the sharp climb just after Lochcarron. That gives Rider A the descent of that hill and then a wee flat to warm up for the Bealach Na Ba, which they'll climb and then descend into and beyond Applecross. Once you've left Applecross and the road starts to turn north again around mile 85 then Rider B should take over until at least Torridon (113ish miles from Inverness). If Rider B still feels up to it then they could take you all the way to Kinlochewe which would be an OK stopping point and not far off of your 125 mile target.

    That makes Rider A your long climber but probably actually gives Rider B more total ascent, as Applecross to Shieldaig is just one short sharp ascent after the next and I think lots of folks would agree with me that it's the toughest bit of the whole route. That's partly because you usually get to it having just climbed the Bealach so you think your hard work is done for a while and it catches you by surprise. Thankfully with your relay system you can tag in a fresh pair of legs the moment the big climb is out of the way.

    Once that's done then you're probably fine to just swap out at set time intervals from Day 2 onwards. Lochinver to Unapool is another string of short punchy climbs, but I don't remember it being anywhere near as tough as the Applecross peninsula so it probably doesn't require any real strategic planning. Maybe worthwhile using a route planner to break the whole thing into 51.6 ten mile long segments and get a total amount of ascent in each segment. That way you can always look 10, 20, or 30 miles ahead and know roughly how tough it's going to be when you swap riders.

    Only other consideration on the swaps is whether you want short stints where you're constantly up and running but never really get to settle in, or whether you want to try to keep it to, say, 4 shifts a day so that each rider is in effect getting two good long rides with a big rest in between (and the big effort to get back up and running for your second shift after fully coming down from the first.)

    As the others have said, tourist traffic in the height of the season can be lethally oblivious/inconsiderate, and your best chance of dry weather is May or September.

    East coast is much more consistent than the West, but you're likely to end up with a cross-headwind for a lot of it. Thankfully if you're only looking at a 4 day block then you should be able to get a pretty good sense of what wind you're likely to encounter before you set off and adjust your plans / daily targets accordingly.

    EDIT: my mileage counts came from the below route, which isn't mine and which I didn't vet to see if it follows the NC500 exactly or not. But it was the first hit for 'ridewithgps North Coast 500' so I figure it must be pretty close: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/9706302
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  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Why do it as a relay rather than both together ?
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 12,704
    edited November 2019
    PS - The grub at the Applecross Inn is pretty good if it ties in with lunch time.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • Wild camp - no worries with accommodation then 😉

    LOL. Wild camping on the West Coast of Scotland in Sept. Blood donors.

  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 8,859

    Wild camp - no worries with accommodation then 😉

    LOL. Wild camping on the West Coast of Scotland in Sept. Blood donors.

    Well you did say May was the best month!

    I've done it in September as well, it was quite bad. Most of my Scottish touring has been in April and May - did the Hebridean Way in May last year.
  • Yip, May can be a superb month for the West Coast - although we've probably jinxed it now!
  • I did the route over 4.5 days this September - beautiful weather and not a hint of a midge! May is probably the best shout though. I'd hugely recommend taking an extra day or two and cycling the entire route, you will still benefit from drafting as a pair. If you do decide to split the cycling, definitely do this by time rather than distance. As others have already said, the whole west coast is fairly undulating, so judging effort by distance doesn't make that much sense.
    alexfthe said:


    EDIT: my mileage counts came from the below route, which isn't mine and which I didn't vet to see if it follows the NC500 exactly or not. But it was the first hit for 'ridewithgps North Coast 500' so I figure it must be pretty close: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/9706302

    I'd suggest a couple of alterations to the route:
    -- At Drumrunie (just north of Ullapool) turn left along the single track road that goes along the base of Stac Pollaidh, then turn right at Badnagyle following the road to Lochinver, before rejoining the main road. This cuts out a section of slightly busier road, and the coast road is simply stunning.
    -- At Evanton there is no need to rejoin the A9, there is a quiet backroad that will take you all the way to Dingwall. The A9 gets progressively more censored the further South you get, make sure you are tackling the A9 sections very early in the morning and you may escape the worst of the traffic.
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