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Scottish cyclist sets new FKT for John Muir Way

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Scottish cyclist Scott Whitehill has set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the John Muir Way. The 31-year-old from Glasgow rode the long-distance trail across Scotland in 12 hours and 6 minutes, clocking a distance of 213km and 2282m of elevation.

His time for the Solo unsupported FKT, travelling from Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland to Dunbar on the east coast was 31 minutes faster than the previous record holder, Marcus Nicolson.

His John Muir Way FKT was recorded on February 23, 2023, and the cyclist, who rides with The Glasgow Pedal Collective, described the weather as “ideal”. He says: ”It was cold to start but there was very little wind and no rain and the sun was out for most of it.”

Scott, who rode a Ribble CGR bicycle, was delighted with his FKT. He sys: “I'm really buzzing with it.”

A keen long-distance cyclist

A cyclist since childhood, Scott spends a lot of time on his bike and has recently become a keen long-distance rider. He also likes bike-packing. He says: “I’ve probably become a bit obsessive about longer distance cycling but I love the fact I can just leave my front door and go wherever.

“However, the John Muir way is my first FKT and I actually only heard about FKTs and a dedicated website the weekend before my attempt.

"I think the website is definitely going to be a good source of routes from now on, although I don't see myself trying to ‘take the time’ all the time.”

Scott reveals he had been keen to do his first 200km ride and then spotted the John Muir Way route. He says: “The first couple times I've tried a 200km ride, I’ve bailed out early so having that target to beat was good to help me with motivation on the John Muir Way. It’s just over 200km and easily accessible from Glasgow, so it made sense.”

Scott’s FKT on the John Muir Way

Scott enjoyed the experience on the John Muir Way. He says: “I found the ride really enjoyable pretty much start to finish.

“The last part of the ride was the toughest, which is probably predictable. The route I had loaded into the wahoo [bike computer] finished about 10km before North Berwick, so I was relying on signposts from then on to get to the finish at Dunbar and that coincided with the sun going down.

“I ended up turning around a fair few times and had a few crashes in the woods in the dark. I went over the bars after cycling into a chain tied between two fence posts.

“But by that stage I knew there wasn't far to go and my time was still looking good so that was encouraging. Riding in the woods in the dark was exciting too. I haven't really done that before.”

Scott liked the route, too. He says: “There was a really good mix of terrain and landscapes. The start from Helensburgh to Balloch was really stunning and had some technical sections, which were fun.

“There's quite a lot of canal riding, too, which although quite repetitive was very welcome just for making a dent in the miles.

“Then there are coastal roads to finish, which was nice, too, although I'd like to go back in the daytime and get the views.”

Challenges of John Muir FKT

Scott found the end section, when he was trying to navigate from North Berwick to Dunbar the trickiest part of there record ride.

He adds: “There were also a few parts where I had to commit to just riding and hoping I was on the path. The signs could be spread out quite far and I was definitely clock watching by then so I got a bit stressed a couple times”.

Highlights of of John Muir FKT

Scott says: “This ride has given me confidence and put me in a good position to do more similar things.

“The night riding was new to me and not something I would have done by choice on a normal ride so knowing that I enjoyed it is cool. I think I will be a bit more adventurous in the future because of it.

“My favourite section of the ride was probably the three lochs way around the Old Kilpatrick Hills, where the scenery there was excellent.”

What's next for Scott?

Scott plans to take part in the Kinross Sportive in April and he’ll be doing the Badger Divide from Inverness in May, although not as an FKT attempt. He has also entered the Dukes Weekender Enduro.

He adds: “I am hoping to get a couple bike packing trips in each month as well so it should be a really fun year.”

Let Highland Transfers help you

If you would like to walk or cycle the John Muir Way, or ride the Badger Divide, we can make your trip easier by transferring your overnight luggage and also booking accommodation along the routes. Of course, you probably don't want to speed through the routes as fast as Scott, so we can suggest timescales that will suit your fitness levels. Why not contact us at Highland Transfers?

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