Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Travel StoriesROD's Rapid NC500

The Road South

27 September 2023


I wake in the night shivering, I rearrange the sleeping bag and tuck down, it was only two weeks ago that I had thrown the covers off of the bed because I was too hot. I drift back to sleep until the morning.

There is a nip in the air this morning, I put on an extra layer and get back into the warm sleeping bag for a few minutes to warm up. I check the phone for the temperature in this location and it tells me it's 7 degrees. I use the site facilities and pack away the tent wet, at 7 degrees we have hit the dew point. I leave at 07:40 and head in the direction of Inverness.

The roads have light traffic and the traffic is flowing well around Inverness. I have just over 500 miles to get home, so I may make a stop in Yorkshire on the way back. I take the main A9 down towards Perth. This road has very nice scenery, and I feel like I am still on tour, not on my way home. With this being a main road I was forgetting that it runs through the edge of the Cairngorms, hence the nice mountain views.

The road consists of normal A road with average speed cameras and shorter sections of dual carriageway. The HGVs have a trial 50mph limit in place.

I see a bike up the road, and start to reel it in as it gets held up with traffic. The bike is a BMW 1250 GS two up and once past traffic he is riding a little faster than myself. We catch more traffic and I wait for the overtake. I remember why I am terrible at riding with others. He is not riding dangerously or breaking the law in any way, but his road positioning is terrible. The next overtake comes and I stick a little closer.

We approach the next traffic and he pulls in behind. I stay at the extreme position on the other side of the road giving the best view of the road ahead and pass the traffic. He catches and overtakes on the next duel carriageway and pulls away.

The temperature in the Cairngorms is lower than when I started this morning and I am now glad I put on an extra layer. As I get closer to Perth the landscape changes with tree covered hills. I still feel like I am on tour. From Perth I take the the M90 towards Edinburgh, the traffic is still flowing well as I cross the forth crossing but slows as I take the A720 bypass but at least it is moving.

The majestic Forth road bridge, a suspension bridge in good weather

I take my first break soon after turning on to the A68 and still feeling cold from earlier I decide to put on the waterproofs for extra warmth. I check the time and realise I am averaging just over 50mph, maybe I will make it home tonight. I pull in at Jedburgh for fuel and realize I am still making good time.

After the English border the A68 is not as good for average speed, with blind crests to the hills, and HGVs, but the scenery is still nice. Now I am in England and on my way home it no longer feels like a tour.

As I approach Corbridge I get rain. That's a full house, rain every day of the tour. From the A68 I take the A1 south and make another stop at Wetherby services to use the facilities. I am still feeling OK with the mileage and estimate that I will be home around 18:20.

Soon after the stop the traffic stops, and I am filtering for a few miles. The reason for the hold up is bridge repairs and the traffic from both directions are directed onto one carriageway. I turn off the A1 and onto the A43 and back towards Northamptonshire. My neck and shoulders are aching, so I make another stop for the last sandwich.

After a walk up and down the layby I am ready for the last leg of the journey. I make a stop for fuel at my local petrol station and return home at 18:45.

The end of a great trip on great roads on a great bike.

Daily mileage. 520
Food.           £0.00
Fuel.            £64.05


Total mileage 1589
Fuel average price £1.543 per ltr.
Litres used 122.02 (26.84 gallons UK).
Average mpg 59.20

Total Spend
Food                                                 £19.40
Campsites.                                       £22.00
Cooking fuel                                     £0.30
Petrol                                                £188.28. (Fuel-£85.78, Tax-£102.50 (Source RAC))
Total Spend                                      £229.98 

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The Road North ROD wisely selects the motorcycle of choice before heading out into the big wide world. There's some rain, some Scotland and a questionable choice of sleeping arrangement.
Cairngorms And The Start Of The NC500 After a restless night ROD finally reaches the NC500 and sets out in the correct (counter clockwise) direction. Will tonight's sleep be better now he's learned how to install earplugs?
The NC500 Continues ROD covers most of the NC500 is one day and still has time on his hands. He's hoping to get all the best bit's done before Storm Agnes spoils the party.
The Road South ROD rounds of his whistle-stop NC500 with... a 500 mile ride back home. There's some interesting final figures to note too.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
I agree about the A9.....but.....them Av.Speed Cameras are a piece of work.
You mentioned Perthshire, I'd recommend everybody explores that area more, truly magnificent.
My bottom hurt a little just reading the miles for the last day. Remember lips first with the cream.

07/12/2023 09:33:57 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
OK.....admitted....not all of Perth is beautiful.....characterful though.

Posted Image
07/12/2023 09:37:22 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Date Sold.
06 Apr 2018.
House price data produced by the Registers of Scotland. Scotland house price data is publicly available information produced by the Registers of Scotland. Last updated 12 October 2023
07/12/2023 09:42:05 UTC
nab301 said :-
I always find it interesting how older, almost obsolete bikes are capable of covering distance in comfort with reasonable economy and minimal outlay.
07/12/2023 12:51:55 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
I am not sure I would have gone any faster down the A9 if the speed cameras were not there, but it's just another thing to think about when riding.
I have not spent much time around Perthshire, but the bits I have seen were very nice.
The BM may be old, but I keep it well maintained and the engine is very under stressed at the speeds I ride at. As for comfort it is one of the most comfortable bikes I have owned along with the 250 Suzuki Inazuma and the GS850 Suzuki.
07/12/2023 21:24:06 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Looks a bit like my house that Upt'.

Perthshire you say? I've passed through on the A9, I seem to recall stopping for a brew in Perth once, but I can't say as I've explored the area. Hang on I've just looked at a map. I've stayed in Tummel Valley outside Pitlochry, explored the single track to the lonesome train station on Rannoch Moor, ridden through Blairgowrie and drank tea in Aberfeldy. Yeah, I agree Perthshire is worth a look.

I'm not surprised ROD's RT is comfortable, it was designed to be comfortable right from the get-go. What did surprise me is the very reasonable average fuel consumption of 59.2 mpg (UK imperial gallons ROD, quite right too). I put this down to ROD's sensible riding style mostly but that's still good going for a big 'ole bruiser.
08/12/2023 07:57:24 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Ren, The RT is good on fuel at 55 - 65 mph it will usually return 60 - 63 mpg at these speeds. If however I take it around the lanes (B roads) and take it very easy it never returns more than 56 mpg.
Best mpg to date is 66 mpg on a run all on A roads.
Just for Rens information, the HNTR has returned 110mpg, 106mpg, 104mpg, 102mpg, and 103mpg. Although this was achieved while running in.
08/12/2023 09:03:11 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Sounds like you rode a lot of the roads we did this year Ed, truly outstanding and even better in 80f heat and blue skies. The ride out to Rannoch Station is beyond words I can summon, Burns could do it justice. Me? Meh.
It was years since we spent time there but Loch Tummel, Rannoch, the oldest tree in Scotland/UK/Europe etc were all beyond our expectations, but the weather helped.
08/12/2023 20:57:30 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Considering the mass and girth of the RT ROD that's good going. As for the HNTR... with that kind of economy on tap I'm starting to like this bike more and more. Grrrr....

The weather always helps Upt', even Bolton can look - ahem - "OK" in the sunshine. It's all too easy to overestimate an opinion of a place in the sun, equally to put a place down when the weather is grim. It's also easy to get the wrong idea of a place just because you're on holiday. I'm particularly fond of Ullapool, a lovely little town with the convenience of a Tesco, a couple of pubs to eat, drink and socialise, a chippy or two and a curry house, all set against a fantastic backdrop.

Then I force myself to imagine needing anything other than the living basics. Oil for the car? 60 miles to Inverness, 60 miles back. Xmas gifts (aka tat), another 120 mile round trip. Well get it delivered? That'll be another £5 on top of the regular charge - Highlands see. Need a break, a change of scenery? You're already a long way from anywhere else.

Still, I'd love to be there right now.
11/12/2023 07:51:35 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
You're quite wise Ed. When we figured out where we wanted to live over 10 years ago now Scotland was an option. But when you actually sit down with the spread sheet it didn't make a lot of sense.
Emotions can start to rule your heart, do we regret not going.......meh.......the countries in a blummin mess anyway and the weather decision turned out to be a good one, mostly.
We found out you only need to go far enough to deter the visitors!
But yes, a week in Ullapool in some crisp winter air doesn't sound too bad. I'll keep an eye on the forecast. The beauty being it's an easy day ride/drive from here.
11/12/2023 09:53:13 UTC
Bros Steve said :-
Good write up that Rod. Cost very agreeable and seems you had a good trip apart from the rain obviously.
14/01/2024 18:34:27 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Thanks Bros Steve. Yes it was a good trip, and although I had rain every day it was not all day every day.
On the positive side the rain kept the wee beasties away.
14/01/2024 19:08:53 UTC

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