The North Coast 500 has geared up and launched a new cycling initiative encouraging people to explore the world-famous route on two wheels in 2022.
Markus Stitz, founder of Bikepacking Scotland, has teamed up with NC500 to devise a new range of off and on-road cycling itineraries that use parts of the NC500 route, including cycle friendly accommodation, cycle-cafes and storage facilities, as well as cycle maintenance and cleaning points along the route.
Markus is a highly experienced long-distance cyclist and filmmaker, who knows the route well from previous adventures and the research for his upcoming book about gravel rides in the UK.
The new NC500 cycling initiative is getting into gear in time for spring and summer months with a focus on healthy outdoor activity, the benefits of cycling to wellbeing and positive mental, as well as sustainable and responsible travel around the north Highlands.
The aim of the partnership also offers visitors and outdoor enthusiasts a fresh look at the North Coast 500 as more than just a driving route through the eyes of a cycling expert and by highlighting the range and quality of cycling experiences available suitable for all skill levels and abilities.
Markus will be offering his personal tips on planning ahead to make a cycling trip around the NC500, as well as advice on sustainable travel around the route by following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, ‘leaving no trace’ and being considerate to local communities.
As part of the initiative, Markus has used the NC500 app and the route planning app Komoot to plot his journey and devise the new itineraries, including sections of the NC500 between Shieldaig to Kinlochewe, Dundonnell to Ullapool and Beauly to Inverness. The NC500 app is available as a free download from the App Store and Google Play. This interactive, cultural guide helps visitors find the most interesting sights and attractions around the route, as well as detailing the stories and music connected to them.
Markus said: ‘Through my work with Bikepacking Scotland I have worked with a number of different communities in Scotland to create opportunities for people to experience the beauty of Scotland by bike and public transport. When creating itineraries, I see those as a guide and inspiration to people to plan their very own journeys.
‘For this project I have used the NC500 route as inspiration to devise an itinerary that shows people how to use the route as a connection between several iconic off-road journeys, and to use trains to connect those further. The NC500 takes people through stunning landscapes, and I hope that through travelling this way people can have a positive impact on the communities along the way.’
Craig Mills, head of operations from North Coast 500 Ltd, added: ‘We’re really excited to have teamed up with Markus as part of our new cycling initiative for 2022.
‘As we cautiously open up to visitors again, it’s more important than ever that we promote the unique wide-open green spaces, coast, countryside and natural beauty of the NC500 to be enjoyed by everyone for the benefit of positive mental and overall wellbeing.
‘Whether people have visited the NC500 before or are planning a trip for the first time this year, we want to show that the region has far more to offer than just a driving route.
‘By slowing down and spending more time cycling in specific parts of the NC500, people can enjoy new experiences exploring the region’s history and heritage, Highland food and drink, as well meeting local people and learning more about Highland community life.
‘While we are encouraging visitors to enjoy the experience of the NC500, we also stress the importance of being aware of, and respectful to, all types of road users across the route. We also encourage visitors to stay alert and continue to follow UK and Scottish Government guidelines on health, safety and social distancing measures.’
For more information on cycling around North Coast 500, click HERE.
For details about road safety around the NC500, go to www.northcoast500.com/top-tips-hitting-route/road-safety