real life cycling

Ronde, Velobici, and the North Coast 500

North Coast 500

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.

North Coast 500
North Coast 500: Road to Applecross (Image:

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.


14 comments on “Ronde, Velobici, and the North Coast 500

  1. Been looking at doing the route as well

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This would be a great route. Having done a small section of the route on the west coast, I don’t think I’ve ridden better roads here in the UK or Europe. Just beautiful. If it’s wet? Nobody can see your tears of joy in the rain…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those multiple day tours are freaking AWESOME. Try to make the time next year. You won’t regret it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I hope to get a proper plan together for this next year. You’ve done these kind of multi-day things?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have. Lansing, Michigan to Mackinaw City, Michigan. Four days, 385 miles – every single one of them Awesome. It rained like hell the first day, was damp and a little gnarly the second but it cleared up for the third and was gorgeous on the fourth. Absolutely cannot wait to do it again this year.


  4. Chikashi

    I had an email exchange about NC500 with my lot recently… One is actually planning to do it in June this year. However, I understand that it will be right in the middle of midge season. Therefore, the discussion moved to looking at September. Are we being overly concerned about midges?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about cycling in midge season, but I would think twice about camping. In my experience it’s when you sit out in late afternoon evening that they come and get you. Once they find you it can be bloody unpleasant!

      Riding through the day and then stopping in proper accommodation wouldn’t put me off.


      • Chikashi

        That’s good to know, thanks. It puts a bit more context to the midges thing. One guy heard that Avon skin cream is the ultimate midge deterrent, but it does seem like dodgy info…

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, I think there’s something in that. There is an Avon skin cream which is reported to keep mosquito’s away and I’ve heard anecdotally from more than one person that it works. Whether Scottish midges are made of tougher stuff…?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Chikashi

        Well, that’s interesting. Must look into it further then…


  5. But constant sunshine is boring!

    On a serious note, Scotland in June should still be just about okay. I’ve done a couple of circuits of Scotland at around that time, taking in the Inverness-John o’Groats part of the NC500 both times, and I stayed superbly dry. As for the midges, bike speed will always keep them at bay and peak season is July, August and September.

    The NC500 looks like a stunning loop to do, and I’m considering it for the spring of 2017 when I’m back in the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Give me boring every time!

      I think the NC500 could really get very popular for cyclists. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who say ‘oh yeah, I’ve heard of that, I really fancy it…’


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