The Real Food Cafe Hosts 10 Amazing Seasons of Highland Trail 550

The Real Food Cafe Hosts 10 Amazing Seasons of Highland Trail 550

On 27th May 2023 at 7am a group of 62 endurance bikepackers got together to refuel before their epic adventure, the Highland Trail 550

A group of Highland Trail 550 bike packing  racers outside The Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum

Highland Trail 550 is the ultimate annual & eagerly anticipated self-supported and self-timed Individual Time Trial bikepacking race and The Real Food Cafe loves to be its spiritual home. We are where the cyclists start and where they finish. 

The 2023 race was extra special because it was its 10th season. The race route is 550 miles long (80% off road) with over 16,000m of climbing.

sections of the trail are completely unrideable and require hours of pushing or carrying one's bike. There is no entry fee, no prize money and no support. The prize is well earned (and much needed) delish Fish & Chips (or equivalent) on us, if and when the race is finished!

The route outline of the Highland Trail 550 race


Pre-racing, the riders receive a suggested start time, a GPS track file and a list of completion times. The route has been planned to take riders from despair to awe in a mere turn of a corner or summit of a climb. Nothing beautiful comes easily on the HT550. Nonetheless, this race has achieved a cult like status in recent years.

The race was created in 2012 by Alan Goldsmith, who is still the Race Director and during the ten years the Highland Trail 550 has become so popular, it is now oversubscribed.

This year there were 62 riders in total, including 27 women, a new record. We're so grateful to Alan and our team for creating such an amazing event where our Cafe gets to play an important part.

The 2022 race winner was Huw Oliver who completed the trail in an incredible 3 days, 11 hours and 23 mins, sleeping only for 5 hours in total. He was almost too exhausted to eat his Fish & Chips, but fortunately did manage!

This year we were following the GPS trackers in suspense astounded at how fast the riders were moving on the red outline of the race track on a map online. 

2023 Highland Trail 550 race winners

Manu & Angus

Fast forward 3 days and about 8 hours and the race winner and a runner up arrived to claim their prizes - A meal on us! Angus, the winner is a school teacher from Dorset who told us on Saturday morning, he was aiming to win the race! He has slept for only 5 hours since the race started. 

Manu, a bike mechanic who came from Belgium to compete, almost finished the race in a sprint with Angus. Unfortunately for him, he sustained a puncture not far from the finish line, meaning Angus won comfortably. Manu told us enthusiastically how this was one of the best races he'd ever taken part in which is fabulous feedback. 

These two men took about 3 hours off the record in a phenomenal effort.

After these two racers, the rest of the athletes started flooding in. The Real Food Cafe became HT550 race hub as riders who finished kicked back, relaxed and refuelled whilst waiting to welcome their fellow riders and to swap stories from their incredible adventure and celebrate their achievements. 

The final HT550 rider was Michelle Dulieu who was on the trail for 15 days. She even had to flee from a wildfire along the way. It is incredible to imagine she was out for so long with so little.

We love being part of this race. The event, our team and the competitors sum up the Spirit of the Cafe which was built with the outdoor loving community in mind. The Highland Trail 550 race is exactly what we had in mind and is a highlight of the season.