Our Route...and preparation
Updated: Jun 14, 2018
Having read almost everything ever written about cycling #Lejog we decided to follow the safe route created by Royston Woods. All the other tried and tested routes involved long stretches on main roads which are dangerous for cyclists. When Royston Wood first cycled the length of the country, from John O’Groats to Land’s End, safety was not high on his agenda of concerns. He was more worried about getting through the ride in the allotted time than the traffic thundering past his shoulder. Luckily he made it, not only in time but alive.
A few years later a brush with an articulated lorry popped his bubble of invulnerability. Shortly after news hit of the death of two cyclists riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats: cycling along one of the roads he had cycled along himself.
It was at that moment that Royston decided to try and find a safer way to cycle End to End. He set out to find a route that was close to a straight line but using roads, tracks and paths that were as quiet as possible.
The resultant route is designed to be used as a set of gpx files. This book provides accompanying information such as brief route descriptions and accommodation lists, together with details on how to download the gpx files.
How will we know we got there if we don’t know how to get there? The route is slightly important!
Next ...there are two options, (oh more decisions!), North to South or South to North.
Starting in John O’ Groats and riding down to Lands End is considered by some to be ‘riding downhill all the way’ - and conversely riding from Land End to John O’ Groats is riding uphill all the way. Sounds pretty obvious then! We have to start at John O’Groats and complete JOGLE.
No! Because of another consideration is the wind factor! Predominantly, the prevailing winds are from the SW and this means you have a wind assisted ride if you start at Lands End. BUT one book Bob read said that he didn’t believe that as on this route he had headwinds more than tailwinds. It gets worse, given that we are going to be riding in a glorious sunny September (fingers crossed) then we need to travel South to North, otherwise we will have sunburnt noses! We should also expect rain every day - one writer experienced that for over two weeks! We do not fancy that!
Ok decision time - we feel that everything points to starting at Lands End - actually, our decision was made for us! Because our friends Shirley and John who are going to support us for the Scotland leg are on holiday early September so couldn’t support us if we started in Scotland. We have also read many accounts of the pesky Scottish Midges (Annette is allergic to their bites!) - so to avoid the worst period of them, September seems to be the appropriate time to go.
So, the Safe Route from Lands End it is!!
Everybody, who has done LEJOG talks about the hills in Cornwall and North Devon being the hardest on the whole ride, so, we have planned to complete around 30/35 miles during the first week until we hit the Somerset Levels, thereafter, targeting 50 or so miles per day.
That’s the first decision - what’s next? Well, when shall we do it? Obviously, we are the type NOT to do it unprepared so we need to prepare physically, not only with miles in the legs but also miles/time on the saddle "OUCH" that’s the hardest part! Still, it needs to be done, so we have allowed ourselves four to five months to ‘train’ amongst our other commitments.
Yep we have our bikes! Given we are unsupported how the hell do we carry all our clothes, tools, spare batteries, charging equipment, rain gear, decent clothes for eating out and staying in hotels , laptop to do our blog and make hotel/B&B reservations, etc., etc.
It rains frequently in UK so we have to have waterproof baggage to carry all this! OMG this sounds a nightmare - we have to carry everything, even when we go away for a couple of days Annette takes the kitchen sink, clothing for all seasons and all events - perhaps we could do with a trailer!
A list of our equipment/ clothing etc will be listed before we depart but suffice it to say that we will need Ortleib panniers as they are the best on the market and totally waterproof. Ouch, a wallet reducer! And of course all we have to do is carry it on our bikes and pedal away, we reckon it will be sensible to prepare for that with a number of rides with bricks in our panniers to simulate our baggage - well Annette did say at the start that she was bricking it!
Where to stay overnight
We have a great fear that we will have difficulty finding accommodation en route. September is still a busy time for B&B’s, Hotels etc., and the difficulty is that we cannot plan too far ahead in case of breakdowns (bikes or us) and often places are booked up well in advance. What we have done is book accommodation for the first week - afterwards it is ‘catch as catch can.’ We may be putting out HELP messages if we struggle.
Getting to Lands End with the bikes and enough luggage for 4 people!
Train is expensive and uncertain with electric bikes because of the battery issue, also accommodation for the bikes is mixed in terms of size, security etc. We decided to hire a small van and thereby hangs an interesting situation. Insurance Companies (well at least one!) will not insure drivers over 70 years of age - ageist or what? So, Annette has to drive the van with manual gears 390 miles to Lands End! Little problem she has not driven a manually geared vehicle for over 30 years! We have the feeling that the challenge starts long before we get on our bikes!
We will be blogging each day to keep our friends updated on our progress so please do join us on our journey.
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