From time to time, my cycling friends and I like to make wild bike-related plans. Occasionally these plans form mid-ride, or in the café. The more extravagant ones are invented in the pub, usually towards closing time.
For largely weather related reasons most of these plans involve riding our bikes in the sunshine, and so involve lots of travelling and a reasonable amount of money. Add work and family into the mix and it can get complicated. But now and again we hit on a plan that’s adventurous enough to get the juices flowing but local enough to cause the minimum amount of disruption to the work/life/family/bike balance.
The North Coast 500, for example.
This route around the extreme north of Scotland was created in 2014, is known as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, and is getting a reputation among cyclists as a bit of a hidden gem. The promise of wild scenery, minimal traffic and smooth tarmac is just about enough to counteract the fact that this part of the world is not known for it’s sunshine. Just about.
I like sunshine, you see, and I already live in the north of England, which is hardly a sun-baked holiday destination at the best of times. If I’m going to travel somewhere to ride my bike it’s going to take something pretty convincing to make me travel further north, in search of less sunshine and greyer skies. But the NC500 is pretty convincing. Five days and a hundred miles a day through wild and traffic free terrain pretty much sells itself.
Which is exactly what is planned for June 2016. UK cycling kit manufacturer and all round bike style gurus Velobici are collaborating with Edinburgh based Ronde Bicycle Outfitters on a charity ride around this route: the Ronde NC500. The plan is to raise money for the Polar Academy, who exist to positively transform the lives of young people aged between 14 and 18 by providing inspiration through exploration.
Velobici have put together a limited edition jersey and cap for the event, with just fifty available, no doubt tailored to their usual high standards and featuring embroidered Ronde logo and NC500 woven badge.
Chris Puttnam, owner of Vélobici, comments: “As a stockist of Vélobici, Ronde has always been a big supporter of our brand, so we’re happy to support them with their charity drive by producing an exclusive run of Ronde NC500 caps and jerseys. All proceeds will be donated to the charity and we’ll also be getting in the saddle to join the team on this epic ride around the Scottish coast.”
Ben Wallace of Ronde Bicycle Outfitters, comments: “The route is still largely unknown to riders south of the border, but is set to gain prominence when it features in the new series of Top Gear. Record breaker, Mark Beaumont, also completed an epic ride of the NC500 last autumn when he cycled the entire route non-stop in 37 hours.
“We’ll be taking on the challenge at a slower pace than Beaumont, taking in 100 miles a day on the five-day tour, and are looking for riders to join us. It is a great opportunity for people haven’t cycled in Scotland before and are looking to take on a new challenge and experience to the backdrop of spectacular scenery. Space is limited to just 25 riders, so we are encouraging anyone who is interested to get in touch to secure their place.”
Unfortunately, the aforementioned life-related commitments mean that I won’t be able to ride the event this year. Luckily, for those who are taking part, the very fact that I won’t be there is sure to result in wall-to-wall sunshine and Mediterranean suntans all round.
Enjoy. You’re welcome.