Matt Atkinson and his team mate Tom Quinn completed a successful ride of the Northcoast 500 in 5 days to raise money for St Mary’s Hospice in Barrow in Furness. Here he recounts the story of the journey and the race to complete the grueling challenge.
The trip started with a wet start at 06:30 from Lochcarron as we headed East towards Inverness with a tail wind, our eventual destination called Brora is on the East coast of Scotland hosting a beautiful beach and a well earnt fuelling stop for the night in our tents The next day saw us heading North towards John O’Groats with increasing hills, wonderful views and a strengthening wind slowing our progress until we reached Melvich for night 2. Days 3 and 4 became a real grueller as the head wind slowed our pace to less than 9miles per hour, the winding climbs picking their way through stunning terrain made our legs ache through the relentless pedal turning.
We averaged 12 hours per day in the saddle, and our bodies needed thousands of calories to keep pushing on. By day 5 we needed lady luck and mother nature to help us out, as it was taking its toll on our bodies.
Waking at 05:30 for the final 90 mile push to the end we were greeted with a still misty morning. Battling with the midges and packing our tents away for the final time felt strange with a mix of emotions. Only 90 miles and the biggest climb stood between us and finishing so we gingerly sat back into the saddle and got moving. The weather just got better and better, and the views and mountains were amazing. Travelling through Torriden, to Applecross Peninsula is some of the most rugged and remote places our island has to offer and the sun was beaming down on us! By mid afternoon we found ourselves at a final food stop at Applecross. I opted for a cold tin of sardines and a tin of beans, and Tom had some emergency pies to fill him up! Setting up the Bealach na Bà pass, a 620m high mountain pass, the end was in sight but not without a battle, winding its way up to the lofty heights it was nearly an hour of solid climbing for 8km. Reaching the summit Tom had to give way to another vehicle and stepped off his bike, his shoe tearing apart he was left walking towards the summit with no sole in his shoe?! Quickly digging out my emergency tool kit, we fixed him up with zip ties and electrical tape before we started down a 70kmph downhill with smiles wide and brakes burning.
It was a stunning and exhausting 5 days, it’s still a bit of a blur! Tom put together a great video of the trip that gives a flavour of what we got through in five days.
We’ve been overwhelmed by the support so far and we’d like to thank everyone that donated to this great cause in these difficult times. We’re just £300 off our target of £2000 sponsorship, there’s still time to donate if anyone can spare some change for the cause. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bb-nc500
In the meantime, I’m having lots of hot baths, massive meals and back to full speed at work!