HT550 over 7 riding days

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Asposium
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HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Asposium » Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:47 am

Would the HT550 over 7 days be a challenge for someone with limited bikepacking ability (albeit with me) but an experienced outdoors person?

Idea is to enjoy the route, not beast it round.

slarge
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by slarge » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:02 am

I think if the other person was quite fit and of good mental strength it would be fine. 70 or so miles a day is a lot, but if you take all day to do it then it’s possible. Or maybe focus on the original route and miss out the northern loop?

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ScotRoutes
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by ScotRoutes » Sun Mar 01, 2020 9:04 am

Weather and conditions will play a huge part, as will desire to be riding long days. I'd be over the moon to do it in 7 days, and I've already ridden 90% of it on other trips so I know what's coming and what to expect.

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metalheart
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by metalheart » Sun Mar 01, 2020 9:11 am

I’d expect the northern loop to be a challenge, it’s the middle of feckin nowhere with little in the way of, well, anything. Just getting resupply/food would be daunting if your not exactly versed in ‘packing and the ways of the north... there’s only a couple of hundred thousand people live in Highland and it’s 33% of the Scottish (and 16% of the UK) landmass. Half of them live around Inverness and it’s eastern part.

On the basis of what you’ve stated I’d allow an extra day (or three) in case of, err, eventualities....
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Raggedstone
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Raggedstone » Sun Mar 01, 2020 9:31 am

Me and a mate did it in 2018 with the intention to enjoy it the only deadline we had was to get back for the group start and it took about 10 and a half days didnt get going in the mornings until about 9 cafe and food stops were relaxed and we had amazing weather it would have been a different story in bad weather . As Steve said there are some sections where it's more about mental fortitude than fitness 7 days would get you inside the time limit to get on the finishers list I know that the further we went the more in awe i was the of the speed that people were able to get through some of it .

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Charliecres
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Charliecres » Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:40 am

I did the lower two loops, with, the odd variation, in seven days a while back.

I’d started out hoping I might do the whole thing but with a “let’s see what happens” attitude.

I quickly decided to miss out the northern loop, relax and enjoy the trip. I still did long days but had time to see the sights and, most importantly, not feel under pressure.

It’s still a tough undertaking. I did the section from Torridon to Fort Bill over two days with fit MTBing (but not bikepacking) friends a few years ago and they were on the edge of a sense of humour failure at times. The psychological boost that comes from having done stuff like this before Is significant.

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whitestone
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by whitestone » Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:07 am

There's a lot of "it depends". Good weather and someone who's up for it and it's perfectly possible. Get some bad weather, wind, rain and if heads go down then you might be looking at ten days.

A lot of "schedules" are predicated on people moving quickly and aiming to get to supply points when they are open. A slower schedule *might* make things more awkward, it might not. It'd be worth looking at past years' group starts on Trackleaders and seeing where the tail end of the group stop overnight and the times they hit places like Contin, Lochinver and Ullapool.

A good example would be Fort Augustus on the way out - you need to be shifting to make the pizza place on day one, probably 5 day sort of speed or quicker. Go slower, say 6 - 7 day schedule and you'd be stopping somewhere on the Corrieyairack and unless you "wasted" several hours of daylight would be passing through FA at 6am or so.
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pete68
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by pete68 » Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:38 pm

7 days is still 80 miles a day which would be beyond the majority of regular mtbers Throw in the likelihood of bad weather over tough terrain and I think an inexperienced rider might find the enjoyment might dwindle quite quickly.

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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by AlasdairMc » Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:01 pm

7 days will be challenging. I did it in 7 days and 4hrs in 2014 on the mass start, and that was with mainly good weather and a fair bit of training. The first few days are relatively easy - even right up to Ullapool. You can get to Ullapool in 4 days, but then the pace will slow down with the big climbs of Dundonnel, Fisherfield and Torridon.

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ScotRoutes
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by ScotRoutes » Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:06 pm

It's worth remembering that AG set the completion target at 8 days as a challenge. It's maybe too easy to forget how difficult it is when we see the superhuman 4 day times.

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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by HUX » Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:02 pm

I had a 'pootle' round the route in perfect conditions in 2018 although it was bloody hot. Set off on the weds before the mass start and did it in 7days 7hours. Plan was to enjoy the route and see all the places i hadnt seen before so no night riding. I started at 9am the 1st day then it was 7-7.30 and riding till 9-10. I had some decent food stops but didnt really hang about in between. I think if youd be prepared to ride a few extra hours then it could be doable for someone with limited experience in 7 days. I did have some major rim eating tyre bead issues which nearly cocked the whole trip up and cost a few hours and I literally just made it to the finish before the tyres fell off the rims. Thank god for gorilla tape! :roll:

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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Lazarus » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:14 pm

Would the HT550 over 7 days be a challenge for someone with limited bikepacking ability (albeit with me) but an experienced outdoors person?
Ray mears meets that description but i dont think he has a HT550 in him :grin:

How fit are they are how much cyling do they do? That is more important that the outdoors bit. Even a proper cyclist or bikepacker is going to have to train for a H550

Asposium
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Asposium » Sun Mar 01, 2020 9:09 pm

Thanks all

Will chat with her a discuss which loop we miss out.

This isn’t supposed to be a beasting, more an enjoyable ride in a scenic part of the county.
We’re both capable outdoors people.

Might be able to stretch time wise if we went on a may bank holiday; though that might mean missing WRT or risking midges.

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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by htrider » Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:33 pm

Two guys did it in 2015 with not much bike experience (and basic bikes) but plenty nous, in horrible conditions. Think they took about 7 and a bit days. If your not bothered about getting a time, miss out the northern loop. There is some good scenery here but you can get most of it in a couple of day rides. Fisherfield is the bit to aim for and enjoy so cutting across from Glen Einig to Ullapool means you are entering Fisherfield fairly fresh.

Asposium
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Asposium » Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:36 pm

Hi,

No, this ride isn’t about a time.
She purposefully wants to avoid the mass start and the crowds.

Thanks for the advice.

That was my next question.... which bits to miss out.

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whitestone
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by whitestone » Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:04 pm

Asposium wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:36 pm
Hi,

No, this ride isn’t about a time.
She purposefully wants to avoid the mass start and the crowds.

Thanks for the advice.

That was my next question.... which bits to miss out.
The problem with that question is that invariably whichever bit gets mentioned there'll be an ace bit on either side of it that you wouldn't want to miss. As a route it sits as a whole, each part complements its neighbours, shade gives light form.

Some say to miss the Northern Loop but for me the Bealach Horn section is one of the highlights, invigorating not desolation.
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by AlasdairMc » Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:52 pm

I’d personally miss out the bottom loop, and start and finish in Garve. There’s a train station there, and you can get the bottom two loops done without being too knackered for the best bit - the Bealach Horn.

Asposium
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Asposium » Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:53 pm

We’d drive

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ScotRoutes
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by ScotRoutes » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:09 am

Start/end at Cannich. Save the southern bits for another trip.

Raggedstone
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Raggedstone » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:09 am

I was going to suggest starting and finishing at Fort Augustus but i like ScotRoutes idea of Cannich much more

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sean_iow
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by sean_iow » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:30 am

What sort of level is their off-road riding ability? How much do they like pushing/carrying?

I found the northern loop to have the highest % of non-rideable terrain. There the push/carry up the Belach Horn, the descent to Lone Bothy is quite technical and the Ledmore traverse is off and on rideable.

But on the flip side there is something satisfying about going over the Belach and a the remoteness is stunning, plus on the Ledmore traverse there's the view of Suilven.

Are you planning on riding the 2019 route with the coffin road and postmans path or the 2020 which misses these but goes to Poolewe? The coffin road and postmas path are also classics but then the new route might be better, I've not ridden it but from the Instagram teasers the new route might have a great singletrack descent.
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boxelder
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by boxelder » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:44 pm

Why not start at Fort Augustus and head north first. 7 days would give loads of time to enjoy that best section. If time left you could then do Tyndrum and back, or use a train to make up some time?

EDIT - I should read before posting.........

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Javi
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Javi » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:48 pm

A lot of good advice here and a lot of if's (weather, midges, etc...) In May and June plenty of hours of light. 7 days for the best 2 loops is realistic in good weather. I'd also miss the bottom one despite the great singletrack in Ben Alder and the ride on the West Highland Way (a bit crowded so looking for solitude, avoid it)
Haven't worked out a route linked by regional trains but it'd be interesting.
Outdoors experience preferred to fitness for this ride.

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Mart
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by Mart » Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:18 pm

Things I have learnt on the Highland Trail (on my two trips) Im just a regular rider and I try hard

- Weather can make a huge difference, Ive had everything thrown at me
- How to look after yourself..... Physically and mentally
- Realising there are going to be Highs and Lows you just have to get through them
- Making good decisions. When to stop, when to push on
- Riding at steady all day pace
- There is some steep pushing, but with it comes the reward on the downhills

Knowledge of the route helped me the second time, which helped my decision making
OK so there are some sections that feel very remote, but in reality never that far (couple of hours) from a road if things go pearshaped

Go for it - what have you to lose. Its riding your bike for a week, and just dealing with whatever comes along
The route has some fantastic scenery and I think that's whats drawing me back again :-bd
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postierich
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Re: HT550 over 7 riding days

Post by postierich » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:09 am

Looking at doing the Middle Loop on Good Friday and was going to start at Fort Ag but Scotroutes idea from Cannich seems a good idea.
Anyone else up for it travelling up Thursday night after work :-)

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