Mark Beaumont sets new record time on the NC500. Credit: Markus Stitz
Most people would plan to cycle the North Coast 500 route over a week or more. It’s 516 miles after all and the circuit from Inverness through Scotland’s stunning north-west highlands landscape includes a brutal 10,000m of ascent. But last month, Scottish cyclist Mark Beaumont completed the route in a new fastest time of just 28 hours 35 minutes.
The 39-year-old took half an hour off the previous record held by fellow Scot, Robbie Mitchell.
Mark’s new record time was actually his second on the iconic NC500 route. In 2015, he set the inaugural fastest time for the road route of 37 hours, 56 minutes.
This means Mark, of Edinburgh, who also holds the cycling record for circumnavigating the world in 79 days, was more than nine hours faster than his first record ride.
The NC500 is a challenging ride. Credit: Markus Stitz
Mark’s record ride on NC500
Mark's NC500 record ride was fully supported by a team from TV network GCN+ . He set off from Inverness Castle on Saturday September 24 at 8am.
Riding an Argon 18 E-119 Tri+ bike, he crossed the finish line, back in Inverness, on the afternoon of Sunday September 25. In total, he spent just 16 minutes off the bike.
Despite cycling in tough weather conditions, including high winds and rain, Mark held an average speed of 29.3kph (18.2mph), including breaks.
After the ride, he said: “It was harder to break Robbie’s record than I thought it would be. I am very happy to have set a new record for this tough route but I went into the ride not knowing if I could do it because Robbie had set a very fast time."
The most challenging section of the NC500 for Mark was around Lochinver. He said: “People always think it is the climb of the Bealach na Ba – the high and long pass from Applecross – that will be the toughest part of this ride but not at all. That climb is relatively straightforward and you simply get in a gear and ride uphill.
“The hardest part for me was north of Lochinver. The road profile looks like shark’s teeth; it repeatedly goes up and down with sharp climbs and descents. I found it very hard to hold an even pace because of all the gear changes.”
Mark is delighted with is new record ride. Credit: Markus Stitz
See Mark’s record ride on TV
You can find out more about Mark's record setting NC500 ride in an exclusive GCN+ documentary that will be released in late 2022.
Mark said: “I hope this film inspires people to explore the north of Scotland – but I wouldn’t recommend trying it non-stop.”
Read about more Fastest Times on the NC500 and other iconic Scottish routes.