Here we've got the space to share some more of our experience and knowledge of cycling, living and working in the Highlands of Scotland. We also welcome contributions from friends and customers that might help or inspire visitors to the North of Scotland or just visitors to this website.
Bikepacking Scotland cycles the North Coast 500
In 2006 while I was developing my new bike hire business, Markus Stitz was developing a whole new way of cycling. Markus had just made his first bike trip across the Scottish Highlands and since then he has done more than most to advance the form of cycle touring that has become known as bikepacking or more recently, gravel biking.
For years I’ve followed Markus and his adventures via social media @ReizKultur and noticed his name time and again on cycling websites, magazines, books and newspapers. I was really chuffed when Markus got in touch to tell me about his plans for an NC500 gravel bike route and asked if we could help him out with a hire bike. The folk at North Coast 500 had asked Markus to make a short film. The mission was to inspire cyclists to use bits of the North Coast 500 but to explore beyond the limits of the public road to escape motor traffic and discover the landscapes that demand a bit more effort on the part of the visitor.
There aren’t many bike hire services around that stock gravel bikes and in the past most of our customers who hired drop-bar bikes stuck pretty much exclusively to the tarmac. Our Trek Domane hire bikes are supplied with a tarmac first set-up but the design has evolved lately to allow clearance for bigger tyres, in fact the 2022 Domane AL4 is identical to the 2020 Checkpoint AL4 which was marketed as a gravel bike. We knew Markus would be covering rougher terrain than most folk but we were confident our bike would be a good choice for this trip. We fitted a pair of @SchwalbeUK G-One Allround tyres (35mm at the back and 40mm at the front) and a pair of Shimano SPDs. Markus brought his own bags from @Apidura.
It was grey and cold on the morning of Friday 8th April when Markus arrived at our workshop in Bellfield park, Inverness. He’d already been busy though capturing images of his bikepacking kit and fueling strategy.
The films that Markus makes often convey moments tranquility of remote landscapes and peaceful reflection during respite from the physical exertion of cycle touring. What is difficult to appreciate is the professionalism and work ethic that is required to produce these moments. It all seems effortless watching the final product but the volume of film and still photos Markus captures on each trip is jaw-dropping. The quality and range of images is equally impressive as you can see below.
Cycling efficiently is largely about conservation of momentum and even in good weather it easy to ride past photo opportunities. For one person to produce so many great images in cold conditions while riding significant distances and with limited daylight is unfathomable to me. Even our wee bike hire workshop is included in the story.
Markus has clearly developed a real talent for film-making and the results speak for themselves. Inspired by Markus’s visit we’ve improved the tyre and bag options we can fit to our hire bikes and we’re close to releasing our own route guide and navigation for cycling the North Coast 500.
I hope you are inspired by Where Roads End too and you can find out more about Markus’s trip on BikePackingScotland.com
Exploring Scotland at your own pace with Ticket to Ride
Here at Ticket to Ride, we’re passionate about the Scottish Highlands and believe that the best way to explore these sublime landscapes is by bike. While we don’t offer accommodation holidays, we can rent you a great bike and offer you all the advice you’ll ever need to experience the best of Scotland.
The beauties of travelling by bike are endless; avoiding traffic, breathing in the cold fresh air, not to mention the wellness elements. But one of the best parts about travelling by bike is undoubtedly the freedom it grants you. Instead of waiting for public transport or getting behind the wheel, cycling allows you to take yourself where and when your heart desires.
By using your own intuition to explore Scotland at a slower pace, you will leave your cycling holiday feeling refreshed and reset, ready to take on the challenges of everyday life. Slow travel is something that has been spoken about quite a bit in recent years. So often do we spend our breaks from work trying to cram in as many experiences as we possibly can without stopping to truly appreciate our surroundings.
To ensure you get the most out of your cycling holiday, here are just a few of the ways you can slow the pace, save your energy and make memories to last a lifetime.
Enjoy the journey
If there’s one thing we cyclists know how to do, it’s enjoying the journey. Cycling isn’t the quickest mode of transport, but that’s the great thing about it. We actively choose cycling because not only does it allow us to invest in our planet, but it allows us to take in the beauty of the world around us. It allows us to engage with the terrain, the smells, the nature and the (sometimes unpredictable) Scottish weather.
Tip: If you do need to use a vehicle for you and your bike, public transport can save you a whole lot of money, and it’s much more sustainable.
Book eco-friendly accommodation
When cycling through the Scottish Highlands, it might seem like you are surrounded by only nature and sublime landscapes, but you’ll be surprised at what you can find hidden in these wee corners. If you do not have any plans in place for your accommodation just yet, why don’t you check out some eco-friendly accommodation? Helping make your trip to Scotland a sustainable one, from transport to accommodation.
Just because you’ve chosen a cycling holiday doesn’t mean you have to cycle all the time. Sometimes, it’s good to just take a day our two out to chill out and put your feet up.
Ready to book your cycling holiday in the Scottish Highlands? Get in touch with the team to book your perfect bike hire.
Cycling Holidays In Scotland and Coronavirus COVID-19
Updated 14th March 2022
We are very much looking forward to our first FULL season of trading since 2019! Bike hire will resume from Friday 25th March and transport services will be back on 3rd April 2022. There might not be many legal rules in place this year but we will continue to work within industry guidelines for COVID safety which slows us down a bit and can reduce our capacity. Please help us to help you by:
being patient, we will be operating with a smaller team but will schedule customers so we can deal with everyone to the usual high standard, safely
It’s hard to answer the phone at times but colleagues working remotely can usually deal with emails quite quickly.
We can only deliver our service if we are all fit and well. Please help us stay at work by maintaining good hand and respiratory hygiene and a decent amount of physical distancing as appropriate.
Published 4th March 2021
It is still not possible to predict with certainty when it will be safe to lift travel restrictions and re-open hotels and restaurants. A good source of information and travel advice for Scotland in the COVID era is of Course VisitScotland.
We’re also now signed up to the standards set out by the World Travel and Tourism Council under their Safe Travels scheme.
Published 9th February 2021
It is not clear when we will be able to start trading again or when customers will be allowed to travel to Inverness. In the meantime we will be preparing as much as we can so that we can continue to provide our usual high standard of service as well as taking the necessary and reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of infection. Our collective COVID learning curve was steep in 2020 and conscientious businesses craved clear conditions they could comply with to give customers the confidence to return.
Collating all this guidance and reviewing our compliance has been helped by the Good To Go scheme developed by the national tourism organisations of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. Businesses displaying this mark have confirmed their compliance with public health advice and their own risk assessments.
We continue to learn about the transmission of the virus, the level of infection in Scotland is already reducing and the vaccine programme is being delivered at a speed not many parts of the world can match. Our precautions are reviewed regularly and we look forward to a time when measures can be relaxed rather than restricted further.
Published 14th January 2021
A lot has happened since that last update in May but in many ways not much has changed and we are largely all still stuck at home. We were fortunate to be able to operate for the best part of July, August and September 2020. It all seems like a dream right now but for a few weeks the sun shone and memories were made:
We were confident that we took all practical precautions to protect ourselves and our customers from infection. It was clear that our working environment was vastly lower risk than many other businesses (e.g. hospitality). Despite observing some less-than-exemplary physical distancing and face covering the summer 2020 tourism season does not seem to have imported much Coronavirus to the Highlands and I’ve precisely zero anecdotes of tourism related infection. The Highlands has seen an increase in infection rates during this winter wave but thankfully continues to escape the soaring levels of virus seen elsewhere. Here you will get the best tips on total health and fitness.
Preparation for the 2021 season is well underway and as we get closer to returning to operations in…. April?… I’ll share more details here and in booking emails etc. Until then please stay safe, get plenty of local exercise and dream of cycling in the Scottish Highlands this summer.
Published 21st May 2020
The Scottish Government Route Map out of corona-virus lockdown has just been published. We’ve been thinking more about how to serve visitors safely after lockdown and some changes to the way we work might include:
It has been 7 weeks since “lockdown” started and despite all the announcements by politicians in Westminster and Holyrood we have not received any financial support for the business apart from a contribution towards the wage costs of my furloughed colleagues.
To date the insurance company has been similarly dishonourable in it’s approach to our claim. The policy states we have cover for business interruption resulting from:
“your inability to use the business premises due to restrictions imposed by a public authority during the period of insurance following: a. a murder or suicide; b. an occurrence of a notifiable human disease within one mile of the business premises;“
I think most reasonable people would conclude that the above adequately describes our current predicament but the insurers claim to have been thinking about something else when they chose those words.
We are hopeful of receiving funds soon from a bank loan which should allow us to continue with preparations to return to trade although repayments will be a burden for years to come.
In the meantime we have been working with Cycling UK to provide bike loans and maintenance services FREE of charge to key workers. It is great to be given the opportunity to use our skills and resources to contribute something positive to the community again after a long winter and then this pandemic crisis.
Published 8th April 2020
A lot has happened since the last update a month ago. Travel restrictions have come into force through much of the world and we’ve delayed the start of our bike hire and cyclist transport season. Operating a seasonal business is challenging at the best of times and this pandemic has hit Scottish Tourism right when it hurts in terms of cash flow. We always knew our customers were nice people but it has been truly heartwarming to know that our customers really empathise with our situation, won’t give up on their Scottish cycling holiday and make a real effort to reschedule rather cancel. This generosity of spirit is a great encouragement when the road ahead is unclear. It’s a health crisis above all else and we must do what it takes to protect ourselves and others and get the virus under control. Getting back to the business of helping visitors explore the Highlands by bike is the light at the end of the tunnel for us now.
Published 7th March 2020
We’ve all been concerned to hear about the recent spread of Coronavirus around the world. Most of our customers are not letting the virus affect their plans for their Scottish Cycling Holiday and indeed some have commented that they’d feel less at risk cycling through the Scottish Highlands than they might have at home!
For travelers and those of us in the tourism trade who meet folk from all over the world it is only sensible to do what we can to reduce the risk of infection. Keeping our bikes and vehicles clean was a big part of our job anyway but we have introduced anti-viral cleaning products to ensure that all contact points like handlebars, door handles, seat-belts and helmets are sanitized before every trip. We seldom have more than one group in our vehicles in a day and I know visitors have said they’d feel happier in a private transfer than using the public bus.