Training for NC 500

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Training for NC 500

Post by Aleks »

Hi All,

I want to do the NC 500 cycle route around Scotland's coast in May of next year.

Aiming to do the 500 miles in 5/6 days, so between 80-100 miles per day.

I have no problem hopping on a bike and riding 100 miles as I am a regular cyclist, but to do this each day for 5 days over Scotland's terrain is a different matter.

What would people think I should be looking at in terms of a training regime building up to May 2021 ?

Any suggestions gratefully received.

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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by Jdsk »

You've got your bike sorted, and you know that you can do 100 miles.

Where are you going to stay?

How are you going to manage food and drink?

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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by rareposter »

Ride in all weathers. Know how the bike handles when loaded with whatever you're carrying. Know what clothing you need in different weather conditions, what food you're likely to need and when, practice using your GPS (or whatever navigation aid you're using) on unfamiliar roads so you know what to expect if/when it tires re-routing you.

So many people get bogged down with "training" and specifics around what gearing they intend to use, what power they'll ride to and it turns out that their "preparation" has involved hours on a turbo trainer which teaches you nothing about bike handling, dealing with bad weather, eating and drinking on the move, group riding, reading the road/traffic, managing the logistics etc.

It's not the riding that's the problem, it's the logistics that get people. Eating enough, being organised enough, planning the route properly, having a back-up plan...
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by Jdsk »


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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by Aleks »

Thanks All.

I am not sleeping each evening in a hedge - will be booking B&B's along the route well in advance. Also working out food stops along the way.

Have just had 4 days bikepacking in the Peak District, so think I learnt a lot about how the bike handles when it is loaded.

Just worried about the physical effort of doing 100 miles a day for 5 days....

p.s def take on board comments about being prepared - bike wise, food wise and 'oh sh*t what do I do now' wise...
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by Cyril Haearn »

You will probably find yourself getting stronger and fitter each day
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by thirdcrank »

This reminds me of Don Thompson, gold medal winner at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, who trained for the 50km walk by steaming up his bathroom then getting up a real sweat exercising.

Heat is unlikely to be a problem for you but you could still use your bathroom by setting up a home trainer / exercise bike under the shower and riding for hours on end on the cold setting. Windows open and a couple of big fans creating a megadraught would also help. I can't think of anything to replicate midge bites.

Putting it another way, you will be fine. You are obviously already fit enough and you know what distance cycling involves. Take plenty of dry socks, well-protected in waterproof bags: they are a real morale booster.

While I'm on, Don Thompson, a true amateur, received an MBE for his outstanding efforts. And an Olympic Gold Medal, of course.
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by borisface »

It depends how seriously you want to take your training. You've got plenty of time. British Cycling have some excellent training plans on their website. You could do much worse than trying one of those. Alternatively just ride your bike a lot, building up the mileage and doing some long back to back rides. I suspect that you're reasonably fit and so training isn't going to make it massively easier but you will go faster.
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by PH »

It's not everyone's type of touring, but I like to sometimes do those where it's all about the riding and any sightseeing is done from the saddle. I find, all other things being equal, I can maintain 75% of a day ride over multiple days, though I haven't tested that beyond 12. So if I was planning on 100 mile days I'd want to have done a few 130's on the same bike, with the same load and if possible similar hills. After that it's just time and recovery, can you still do it if you haven't had a good nights sleep, knowing what food and when and as rareposter says familiarity with your kit... Then the big one is motivation, how do you get through any rough bits. I packed on an E2W after a couple of days rain and a broken tent pole put me half a day behind, I was on a train home within an hour of that thought entering my head, and was regretting in not long after...
So for training - I wouldn't even call it that, go do some long rides, get out and do some when you're not particularly motivated, call it conditioning :wink:
An interesting read and available very cheaply is The Long Distace Cyclist's Handbook. Full of advice, information and includes both some specific and general training plans.
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by eileithyia »

You already sound fit enough and fairly prepared having practised with time away and carrying kit; these the usual things I would advise.
Don't look at it as 100 mile days, but 25 miles to 11s, 25 to lunch, 25 to 3s and 25 to accommodation. Even if there is no cafe / highland hotel doing coffees, have a break to split the day and the riding up.
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by gloomyandy »

Having ridden most of the West coast part of this route but not in such big daily chunks, I'd say the hardest parts are the stretches of steep but short up and downs at various parts of the coast. So for instance on the section to Applecross and beyond I found the main climb hard but fine, but the road from Applecross to Shieldaig just really wore me down. Don't get me wrong it is a lovely road to ride with great views but with a headwind (not uncommon), it was really hard work. Similarly the section north from Ullapool (if you follow the coast road and you should). I was camping and so was carrying a fair bit and found that those short sharp climbs just really required a lot of energy. When I did it the weather was windy but fine, I think it would have been grim had it been cold and wet!

So if you want to train for it I'd suggest trying to find routes that include those sorts of climbs on them (rather then say longer steady climbs) and if you can, try and do them when you are already tired. Doesn't sound much fun though. Personally I'd go for shorter days and take the time to enjoy the area a little more, but it doesn't sound like what you have planned is that sort of ride, which is fair enough, just not my cup of tea. Talking about which it can be a long way between possible cafe stops and a surprising number of places seem to be closed when you get there!
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Re: Training for NC 500


Food always carry some spare.
Water you need to capacity for at least three bottles, I have mounts for two bottles on the touring bike I brought some clips to sling one under the front sloping tube. Makes three
On the road bike I've only got one bottle frame boss, so are used Clips for the second bottle and had to carry a bladder in my rucksack
Twice in the 6 1/2 days 100 miles a day of Devon and Cornwall coast I put extra fluid in the bladder, I still struggled on one day for fluid, don't forget some water purification tablets for drinking stream and river water.
Try and concentrate on three hours at a time fuel up carry water do three hours and then repeat.
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by geocycle »

For me it is not really the distance but the time. 100 miles with luggage is 10 h including stops for me. That’s a long time on a bike, it will find out all the set up compromises and existing aches and pains. Psychology is important. You know you can do the distance so I’d try and do a few more in the 110 range to give extra confidence. On that route having enough food with you would be important.
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by ossie »

I was going to say the adrenalin would get you through the 5 / 6 days but you may well come to a halt on day three.

There are too many variables, weather, breakdowns etc. I'd forget the 5/6 days and look at a longer timescale and see how it pans out. It takes me about 7 days to start knocking out centuries but I'm carrying a shed load of kit and a tent.
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Re: Training for NC 500

Post by matt2matt2002 »

I'm just back from doing a section of it, camping.
I met prenty of folks going the whole way. Light set ups and B&Bs organized.
Having accomodation arranged was an incentive to make the next section!
Check out my blog. It covers Ullapool north to Lochiner. Stunning scenery. And some of the lesser hills! ... andAug2020
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