- What To Do
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Those who cycle the North Coast 500 route are light travellers. You’d have to be if you’re covering this route self-powered on two wheels and have to carry your own luggage. Cycling this journey does not require the most extensive experience for those that enjoy cycle tourer, you will, however, need to bear a few things in mind.
You won’t have the capacity to carry the kitchen sink with you. It is vital that you understand what the essentials are for a journey such as this and advice from others that have completed this journey would be a good place to start. There are plenty of online cycling forums where this route is a hot topic. As a cyclist, you will be vulnerable to the whims of other drivers from motorcyclists to the biggest of motorhome drivers, and then you’ll have to contend with sudden changes in weather. It is not unheard of to be cycling along in the heat of the midday sun only to have to navigate your way through a sheet of torrential rain an hour later.
If that hasn’t put you off, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular scenery that you will ever see in your life. Expansive white beaches, views from high hills and down cliffs and wide open spaces which hold the secrets of the crofters both past and current. You may be tempted to carry a tent and a sleeping bag although a pop-up bivvy is always recommended for someone that is going to be exposed to the elements most of the way.
You don’t have to carry excess baggage. The route is now so popular that there are plenty of campsites that provide tents and camping pods, towns and villages with B&B accommodation and everything in between. Remember, however, that you will need first aid kits both for yourself and your bike. Anything is possible when you’re out in the wild. The nature of the route dictates that bike shops and resources for repairs are widely dispersed, although as you get into more densely populated areas, you will find several. Consider the laws of probability and devise a plan around what you’re going to do if you experience a major mechanical issue. Preparation is key.
A suggestion that doesn’t seem to arise too often is that of enabling yourself to communicate. Make sure that the route that you are following has network coverage with your mobile phone provider. It may even be a good idea to be in possession of a number of pay as you go sims, each topped up with say £5 just in case you find yourself stranded in a spot which is exclusive to a mobile network that is not your own. Simple preparation such as that can not only enhance your enjoyment of the journey; they’re also made of life-saving stuff.
Bear in mind that the hills are steep and the path is long. While cyclist James McCallum completed the route in 28 hours and 57 minutes, it is a journey that should be enjoyed. Ensure you have a good level of fitness before you begin and factor in extra days for unexpected events or to take a slower pace.
Cycling is the realm of the free spirit with no worries about fuel stops, being able to pause your journey to take in the wonders of nature and freedom no other method of exploring this route will offer. Ensure you can keep well hydrated have access to good nutrition and have a properly serviced bike and a map, and you’ll be good to go.