Tell me bout NC500

Share your rides with us.

Moderators: Bearbonesnorm, Taylor, Chew

Post Reply
redefined_cycles
Posts: 6112
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Tell me bout NC500

Post by redefined_cycles »

Hoping to get a little insight into this beautifully scenic (but possibly nasty/remote and killer) loop. Might have the opportunity to go ride it for my BAM August...

Random questions in no particular order, if anyone has any thoughts on the matter...

Will I end up walking up Belach Ne Baa or is it possible for a weak(ish) rider to ride it up all the way on a packed bike?

Do I need to pack for all eventualities like as if I'm going for some notorioua mtb loop... like full length waterproofs? Extra warm layers in my middle of summer heat??

Ia there plenty water taps along the way and is it reasonably easy to get reasomably priced good food in vege flavours by folks that wash their hands after the toilet (and take being vege serious enough that they don't cross-mix utensils)?

How many miles should I aim for daily... I wanna ride it fast as I can without killing myself, as I need to get back for work. For reference I did the 2019 BB200 loop in about 38 hours or less and the 2020 loop I packed in...

How would I charge my electronics if I'm going on a super tight budget. Only planning to stop at a hotel the once if miney allows to try n freshen up. But would rather this be at the end so I'm fresh for the ride home. Probably gonna be my biggest/hardest ride yet...

Am I gonna be afflicated with that drasted A9 that leads JoG...

Ta in advance.
https://youtu.be/hvWERHBBdhU why I don't buy Israel goods.

CNN/BBC bias called out https://youtu.be/HM-UqJUPhl8
redefined_cycles
Posts: 6112
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by redefined_cycles »

Oh... The midges... are they gonna try n eat me alive when I stop for prayers or do they sometimes behave... Are they friendlier if one doesn't consume copious (like bringing it down to zero and no pop or Irn Bru) amounts of sugar.
https://youtu.be/hvWERHBBdhU why I don't buy Israel goods.

CNN/BBC bias called out https://youtu.be/HM-UqJUPhl8
User avatar
ScotRoutes
Posts: 7330
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:56 am
Location: Cairngorms
Contact:

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by ScotRoutes »

First response..

If you want to ride in that area, take a holiday and take your time. It's a long way to travel to blast round some of the finest scenery you'll ever encounter.

I'll take a bit more time in a longer response but do you already have a train booked? If not your plan is likely moot anyway.
User avatar
ScotRoutes
Posts: 7330
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:56 am
Location: Cairngorms
Contact:

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by ScotRoutes »

Will I end up walking up Belach Ne Baa or is it possible for a weak(ish) rider to ride it up all the way on a packed bike?
You should be fine, I managed. Anyway, the coast road from Applecross to Sheildaig is much tougher.
Do I need to pack for all eventualities like as if I'm going for some notorioua mtb loop... like full length waterproofs? Extra warm layers in my middle of summer heat??
Yes
Ia there plenty water taps along the way

At pubs, cafes etc. Possible that a campsite won't mind.
and is it reasonably easy to get reasomably priced good food in vege flavours

You should find a (limited) choice everywhere.
by folks that wash their hands after the toilet (and take being vege serious enough that they don't cross-mix utensils)?
I don't think that the hygiene standards of the Gealltachd are much different from elsewhere in the UK. How have you managed before?
How many miles should I aim for daily... I wanna ride it fast as I can without killing myself, as I need to get back for work. For reference I did the 2019 BB200 loop in about 38 hours or less and the 2020 loop I packed in...
I've really no idea on this one but I'd want at least 5 days, more like 8.
How would I charge my electronics if I'm going on a super tight budget.

Dynamo.

Am I gonna be afflicated with that drasted A9 that leads JoG...
It's actually not too bad between JoG and around Brora/Golspie. After that there are alternatives that take you off the A9.
Oh... The midges... are they gonna try n eat me alive when I stop for prayers or do they sometimes behave...
They don't fly when it's breezy. They don't like bright sunlight. Mostly they can be avoided by careful choice of stopping place. But take a head net and wear Smidge. That'll help with the Ticks too
Are they friendlier if one doesn't consume copious (like bringing it down to zero and no pop or Irn Bru) amounts of sugar.
I have no reason to believe that sugar consumption makes any difference at all to your attractiveness to the midge. They scent your pheromones and some folk are just afflicted more than others.
redefined_cycles
Posts: 6112
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by redefined_cycles »

Thanks Colin... Tell me about that train ticket booking you mentioned. I should be able to book one asap...
https://youtu.be/hvWERHBBdhU why I don't buy Israel goods.

CNN/BBC bias called out https://youtu.be/HM-UqJUPhl8
User avatar
ScotRoutes
Posts: 7330
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:56 am
Location: Cairngorms
Contact:

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by ScotRoutes »

https://www.scotrail.co.uk/

You might have to book the bike on each of the connecting services, depending on how many connections you'll have.
redefined_cycles
Posts: 6112
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by redefined_cycles »

Since you say it's probably the most beautiful place aroumd the UK I think you're right. Best to take it easy and not rush it. Bealach na Baa can wait I suppose and I'm sure there will be other opportunities.

Might do the Yorkshire500 loop instead. Thanks (again) Colin
https://youtu.be/hvWERHBBdhU why I don't buy Israel goods.

CNN/BBC bias called out https://youtu.be/HM-UqJUPhl8
ton
Posts: 1834
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:53 am

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by ton »

Will I end up walking up Belach Ne Baa or is it possible for a weak(ish) rider to ride it up all the way on a packed bike?
you will piss it.
i know a fat bloke who rode up it on a 3'' tyred ecr. and no matter how packed your bike is, you wont ever be as heavy as him. :-bd
Keith74
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:33 pm
Location: On the banks of loch Fyne.

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by Keith74 »

For what it’s worth unless your dead set on the nc500 I would look somewhere else. It’s been mayhem the past few months with all this staycation carry on.

If you set on that route then the Belach na baa isn’t too bad to ride up there’s a lot worse climbs along the route. Most small villages will have water if you don’t mind asking or possibly buying a cuppa from a cafe in return for access to cold water.

If your going to hotel it I suggest booking ASAP as most are full or filling fast for this year.
redefined_cycles
Posts: 6112
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by redefined_cycles »

ton wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:17 pm
Will I end up walking up Belach Ne Baa or is it possible for a weak(ish) rider to ride it up all the way on a packed bike?
you will piss it.
i know a fat bloke who rode up it on a 3'' tyred ecr. and no matter how packed your bike is, you wont ever be as heavy as him. :-bd
Haha... Thanks Ton. Wonder why on earth Simon Warren gave it the dreaded 11/10. Maybe he was on about how beautiful and enjoyable it is. Been waiting for this moment for a long time but will wait a little more (and go out with my posh mate Ibn who doesn't do anything less than 3 star hotels and tead with saucers :grin: )...
https://youtu.be/hvWERHBBdhU why I don't buy Israel goods.

CNN/BBC bias called out https://youtu.be/HM-UqJUPhl8
redefined_cycles
Posts: 6112
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by redefined_cycles »

Keith74 wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:47 pm For what it’s worth unless your dead set on the nc500 I would look somewhere else. It’s been mayhem the past few months with all this staycation carry on.

If you set on that route then the Belach na baa isn’t too bad to ride up there’s a lot worse climbs along the route. Most small villages will have water if you don’t mind asking or possibly buying a cuppa from a cafe in return for access to cold water.

If your going to hotel it I suggest booking ASAP as most are full or filling fast for this year.
Thanks Kieth. I reckon that could be the message that seals the deal for me. Yorkshire500 it'll be :-bd...
https://youtu.be/hvWERHBBdhU why I don't buy Israel goods.

CNN/BBC bias called out https://youtu.be/HM-UqJUPhl8
User avatar
htrider
Posts: 3899
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:51 pm
Location: Fife
Contact:

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by htrider »

Yup as Keith said. Don't bother.
Instead get yer 1:250k map out and check out some of the other roads - essentially do a 'not the NC500' route. NC500 is for vehicles not bicycles, it takes you back south via the A9 which is the worst road in the whole of the north of Scotland to ride. The single track A and B roads through the middle of the north are ace and empty. The hope road from the north to Alnaharra is fab. The Inverkirkaig Road south of Lochinver, also fab. Drumbeg road and Applecross roads are great (these are on the NC500 alas) but do them early morning or late evening to miss the campervan muppets. Campsites are few and far between off the NC500 and busy on it but bivvy spots abound. Some of the great north trail route sections in the north look really good too.
redefined_cycles
Posts: 6112
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by redefined_cycles »

Thanks Phil. Had never really thought of that and don't understand why noone ever made an NC500 for cycling. I always assumed that since everyone loves it so much it must be rather enjoyable (thw riding as well as scenery)... we shall indeed make our own nc500 :-bd

Hope my Yorkshire500 works well
https://youtu.be/hvWERHBBdhU why I don't buy Israel goods.

CNN/BBC bias called out https://youtu.be/HM-UqJUPhl8
User avatar
ScotRoutes
Posts: 7330
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:56 am
Location: Cairngorms
Contact:

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by ScotRoutes »

There are so few roads that an alternative NC500 isn't possible without sharing with other vehicles.
User avatar
Borderer
Posts: 1512
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:59 pm
Location: Scottish Borders
Contact:

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by Borderer »

Keith74 wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:47 pm For what it’s worth unless your dead set on the nc500 I would look somewhere else. It’s been mayhem the past few months with all this staycation carry on.
This ^
User avatar
ScotRoutes
Posts: 7330
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:56 am
Location: Cairngorms
Contact:

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by ScotRoutes »

It is probably worth saying that "busy" on the NC500 route needs to be taken in context 😂
User avatar
JoseMcTavish
Posts: 225
Joined: Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:08 pm
Contact:

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by JoseMcTavish »

That's very true! I'd imagine busy single track roads with impatient people ignoring the passing places would probably get old pretty quickly. Why not just commit to getting the train up to Thurso and then ride down through Scotland to return home from a station further south? You can see a wide range of landscapes that way. Possibilities are endless even if you stick to roads. A quickly thrown together example would be this:

https://www.strava.com/routes/2853276019652677144

This would take you down through the Flows up north and then on to the Cairngorms, climbing a couple of high passes at the ski centres before getting a train home from Pitlochry. With this approach, there's loads of alternative routes you could do, varying the station you are aiming for depending on how far you want to go or which side of the country you want to see the most. Taking a "gravel" bike would also open up a lot of interesting alternatives.
redefined_cycles
Posts: 6112
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:19 am
Location: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by redefined_cycles »

JoseMcTavish wrote: Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:15 pm That's very true! I'd imagine busy single track roads with impatient people ignoring the passing places would probably get old pretty quickly. Why not just commit to getting the train up to Thurso and then ride down through Scotland to return home from a station further south?
Thats a good shout...

I don't actually have a gravel bike so that rules out the gravelling...

Now I hope noone laffs but all I really wanna ride is Belach na baa and the other 100 climbs (from the Simon Warren book) around them ends... I'd actually put the project on hold as Bealach was a bit too remote for me to comfortably go there alone. But recent turn of events meant an opportunity had opened up.
'would probably get old pretty quickly
I don't quite get that saying :smile: are you saying that singletrack roads and impatient folks don't mix well... and they don't come back
https://youtu.be/hvWERHBBdhU why I don't buy Israel goods.

CNN/BBC bias called out https://youtu.be/HM-UqJUPhl8
User avatar
Misterg
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 7:36 am
Location: N Wales

Re: Tell me bout NC500

Post by Misterg »

I've just returned from that neck of the woods - We took the train to Thurso and rode out to Cape Wrath and down to Achnasheen over the course of a week.

Much of the route shared roads with the NC500. While the NC500 was (very) noticeably busier, the riding was always excellent, and didn't feel like riding in traffic. Drivers were generally very considerate and courteous (with two exceptions in a week - one of which swerved towards us, ran us off the road and call us **nkers). We tended to get 20 minutes of nothing, then about 10 vehicles at once. Sometimes, however, there was almost continuous engine noise echoing around the place from motorbikes & sports cars "making progress" somewhere in the vicinity.

What was an issue, however, is that everywhere on the NC500 was booked solid - food, campsites, accommodation, etc. The shelves of village shops were picked bare and patience seemed to be wearing thin.

We struggled to find decent bivvi spots - we had hoped to camp at the site in Scourie, but they don't take bookings, and when be arrived we took out place in a long line of people being told that they're full for tents and not to wild camp in the village. There are lots of NO CAMPING! signs. It seemed that anywhere a van could be parked was surrounded by weathering toilet paper. We ended up camping in rough heather and midge hell.

Big shout out to the service station in Laide - a proper oasis after ~30 miles+ of nothing.

It was a fantastic week though - the scenery is majestic and beautiful. Take your time.

Image

Image

Image
Post Reply