This section aims to answer questions which are most commonly asked. If we haven’t helped to address your concerns, do get in touch.
Q. Do you have to raise money for charity?
A. For the majority of places fundraising is entirely up to you, but we do encourage you to put your efforts to good use. In 2016 we will be ring-fencing 200 charity places for our partners – these places require a commitment to raise a sum determined by the charity. Our charity partners are never asked to contribute to the event costs.
Q. Is Ride the North a competitive event?
A. NO …that’s a definite no! The event is for cyclists of all abilities. There are experienced cyclists and club members who take part, but equally there are those who are taking on a challenge that is beyond anything they have ever done before. We think the event is a bit more sociable than the average sporting event. We build-in refreshment stops along the way and we don’t time anyone. For the experienced cyclist the event can be a bit of fun and perhaps the opportunity to sell cycling to your friends and colleagues, for the casual cyclist it’s a serious challenge. Either way, there is no timing and it’s not a race.
Q. Am I fit enough to take part?
A. Well, you know we can’t answer that one! However, we can tell you that the event attracts a broad range of participants and we acknowledge that they certainly don’t all cycle at the same speed. The event will begin at 0745 hrs and we want everyone finished by 1800-1830hrs – you can work out whether your fitness/pace matches up to this timetable. If, hitherto, you have not cycled regularly, an event of this nature will require considerable training and really has to be taken seriously. As the event approaches, we would expect you to have built up your training rides and to have tackled some sizable hills along the way. Visit our training page for some helpful tips for your preparation. We will be delighted to discuss any doubts with you.
Q. Why all the different starting group options?
A. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the more leisurely paced cyclists need to be given a good head start on the faster ones – if you need time to complete the event, we want to ensure you get it. Secondly, we want to ensure that the fastest riders hold back and don’t get to the lunch before lunchtime (!) and to allow us to have all marshals in place and signs checked. Thirdly, we want to match you up with cyclists that are broadly similar in pace – you might ride with them for a couple of miles or a couple of hours, that’s entirely up to you. Finally, the event takes place on public roads and in consultation with local police we advise riders to ride is small groups. Starting groups will be no more than 8 riders.
Q. So, how do I choose the right start time?
A. This really just needs an honest assessment of your ability/pace on the bike. If you have been out training you will have a feel for your pace over undulating terrain and chose a time slot accordingly. What doesn’t work too well is the tendency to play down your pace. If you are a regular road cyclist riding a road bike, you probably want to start in the orange or red waves. Here is our guide to help you chose the best option for you:
Blue Wave: You might expect to average of 10-11mph (which would equate to around 8-9 hrs of cycling time to cover an 85 mile route). This start time probably suits less experienced cyclists, leisurely paced riders and generally those who think they will need the maximum time. If you know that you like to take time at the stops and have a leisurely lunch, then no harm in setting off among the first.
Green Wave: You might expect to average of 11-12mph, which would equate to 7-8 hrs cycling. We expect this time slot to suit less experienced riders who have done more training (!) and experienced leisure/touring cyclists.
Yellow Wave: You might expect to average around 13-14 mph, or be cycling 6-7 hrs. Probably suits regular/semi-regular cyclists who have some experience of distance cycling or a good level of fitness.
Orange Wave: You might expect to average around 15 or 16 mph and to be cycling for 5-6 hours. You might be likely to be a regular road cyclist with experience of distance cycling/Sportive type events.
Red Wave: You might expect to average over 16 mph and to complete 85 miles in under 5 hours on the bike. The Red wave will be made up of active/sporty/club cyclists.
Q. What should we do if we are a group with more than one cycling speed?
A. There would seem to be two most obvious options. Either you all chose to cycle at the speed of the slowest or perhaps the best idea is to select times individually and then arrange to meet up at the lunch stop and cycle together for a section later in the day.
Q. Can I cycle at my own speed? What if I am too slow?
A. Trying to keep pace with faster cyclists is not advisable from a safety point of view as well as testing the endurance you will require to cycle a long distance. We try hard to avoid having cut-off times, but do expect participants to be able to record an average speed of around 10mph. The principal issue for anyone who wants to ride at a steady but leisurely pace is not being on the bike so many hours that their safety is compromised.
The feed stations along the route are open for published periods. These times will be achievable to those who are maintaining the average speed outlined. If you allow 1 hour and 45 minutes for refreshment stops along the route, an average pace of around 9.5 mph will ensure you complete the route between the hours of 0800 and 1830 hrs in the published schedule. In the event that any participant is unable to maintain a pace close to the schedule a support vehicle will provide assistance.
Q. Can I ride the whole route without making stops for refreshments?
A. the event is intended to be a little more sociable than some other events and we hope the refreshments stops are part and parcel of the event. We don’t encourage you to ride the route as time-trial, but we do try to support f your preference is to ride the route without stops, we will do our best to support you. The route signposting will be checked just ahead of the published schedules so we wish to avoid anyone getting ahead of it. If you do intend to ride the route without stopping please request a start time in the final wave of cyclists.
Q. What are the arrangements for bike storage?
A. 2015 details are being worked on. more to follow soon.
Q. How will the (non-cycling) transport logistics work?
A. We will be working with a secure venue on the edge of Inverness to secure bikes overnight between days one and two)
Q. What type of bike do I need?
A. You can use any bike that you feel comfortable with. You are likely to be on it for long periods over the two days, so it is vital that you use a bike that you are comfortable on.
The route is on surfaced roads, which means you will get the benefit from a bike designed for road cycling or touring rather than a mountain bike. If you do use a mountain bike, you will find a significant advantage with slick tyres rather than tread designed for mountain paths. There will be a fair amount of tough hills, so you may also consider your choice of bike in terms of the gears you need for climbing.
Q. Are there refreshment stops along the route?
A. Oh yes! There will be four or five refreshment stops along the route on each day. Each day will feature a lunch stop which is generally arranged in partnership with local communities. Refreshement stops will supply drinks and snacks …and even a great cup of coffee.
Q. What are the roads like?
A. The entire route is on surfaced roads. Many miles of the route are on minor unclassified roads which carry relatively little traffic and are ideal for cycling. There are short stretches on ‘B’ roads, but these are largely quiet rural roads that are not usually busy.
Q. Is the route signposted?
A. Yes, there will be a comprehensive signposting system for the event. Nearer the time we will give you GPX files and maps files too should you want to print them out.
Q. Are there a lot of hills?
A. The North of Scotland has some wonderful countryside, but cycling in Scotland is seldom flat. In the ‘Event Details’ section, we’ve clearly laid out for you what’s in store at each stage, including elevation profiles.
Q. What about my luggage?
A. Check your luggage in on the first morning and it will be transported to each day’s destination for you. Your luggage can be reclaimed at the finish-line each day. As luggage will invariably left unattended, you should carry valuables with you while cycling.
Q. What will the scenery be like?
A. We can’t guarantee the weather, but we can guarantee some terrific scenery. The Cairngorms National Park, Speyside, Donside and the foothills of the Grampian Mountains await.
Q. What are the accommodation arrangements?
A. The registration fee does not include accommodation.
Q. What support can I expect?
A. We will have a team of support staff and volunteers. Luggage will be transported, mechanical support will be on hand and a support vehicle will collect, assist or transport any rider who is unable to continue due to illness, injury or fatigue. We will also be working with the British Red Cross who will provide first-aid cover for the event complete with ambulance and team of Red Cross first-aid volunteers. Please make sure you don’t meet them!
Cyclists will be expected to carry equipment to deal with punctures, but other emergency supplies will be available.