LEJOG, The End Game.

 

Lands End to John O'Groats - Thousands of people do it every year.

Lands End to John O’Groats – Thousands of people do it every year.LeJog is just one of the iconic rides that every cyclist longs to do and now that I had retired there was no work to get in the way so last December I just picked an arbitrary date in May to start and worked back from there. I was not doing it for charity, just a personal challenge and I decided to do it solo so I could set my pace and timing.LeJog is just one of the iconic rides that every cyclist longs to do and now that I had retired there was no work to get in the way so last December I just picked an arbitrary date in May to start and worked back from there. I was not doing it for charity, just a personal challenge and I decided to do it solo so I could set my pace and timing.

LeJog is just one of the iconic rides that every cyclist longs to do and now that I had retired there was no work to get in the way so last December I just picked an arbitrary date in May to start and worked back from there. I was not doing it for charity, just a personal challenge and I decided to do it solo so I could set my pace and timing.

My first concern was wondering if I could cycle a multi day tour and I started training in January, trying to get out on my bike every day. I gradually increased my mileage each week and it culminated when I joined 30 days of cycling which was a pledge to cycle a few miles every day in April. I had managed consecutive days of 60 miles but that was short of doing that same mileage every day for 14 days.

The bike I chose for the trip was my Van Nicholas Yukon, with an Ultegra 50/34 chainset and an 11/28 cassette, Fizik Arione saddle, Ultegra wheels and 25mm Shwalbe Durano Plus tyres.

Kaye had agreed to drive the team car, our Motorhome, which we would use for accommodation along the way and this could also carry any spares I may need, it would also give us flexibility for daily mileage requirements.

The next item for attention was the route and I based this on a previous LeJog ride completed by a good friend. Using his notes I plotted my route on Ridewith GPS and transferred it to my laptop to upload onto my Garmin 800, I also bought a Phillips Navigator 1:100,000 UK mapbook and marked the track so Kaye had a hard copy of my route in the motorhome.

The Ride

I chose Lejog over Jogle for no other reason than it was nearer to travel to Lands End to start. In theory the prevailing wind is south-westerly but I had a 50 / 50 split of head and tail winds.

We travelled to Lands End and stayed overnight for an early morning start. The first days mileage was to be 68 miles and I had decided to split each day into 3 sections, I would ride 30 miles to coffee, a further 25 – 30 to lunch and then finish off in the afternoon. I am not sure whether it was adrenalin but I carried on for a further 10 miles on the 1st day to make a hilly day 2 a little easier. My daily routine worked well but my one disappointment was the navigation on my Garmin. I had plotted the daily routes on RidewithGPS using the “cycle” setting and this had the effect of routing me on cycle tracks that were adjacent to roads and towpaths, also the turn by turn directions would obscure the screen in cities and in retrospect I would have marked up a 2nd Philips Navigator map book and torn out the pages I needed each day.

On the road I took the precaution of wearing a hi-viz gilet most of the time and I had a flashing rear light on at all times. I had 2 minor incidents with traffic, one being an elderly lady who objected to my flashing rear light which she thought was too bright in daylight in the rain !!

I was advised that diet would play a major part of multi day rides so did pay attention to make sure I ate and drank at regular intervals and started the day with a good breakfast.

I managed the ride without getting a puncture but I did break a spoke, luckily I had a spare wheel in the motorhome but I did not carry spare spokes.

The daily mileage gradually increased and I completed 100+ mile days on 2 of the last 4 days, it was definitely a case that fitness improved with time and in the end I completed my challenge in 12 days. On two days with long steep climbs I switched to a 12/30 cassette and on reflection I could have done with an 11/32 to make life easier. One other omission I must admit to was forgetting to pack overshoes which were needed on wet days but an improvisation of cling film worked a treat.  note to self : must see if I can patent that, keeps the water out better than my overshoes.

Shorts were the order of the day until I got to Scotland but a drop in temperature saw me reaching for tights or leg warmers. I have not yet found a pair of totally waterproof gloves and the best combination I found was thin latex gloves underneath a liner glove. I was normally cycling with long sleeve base layer and long-sleeved jersey and gilet, to this I added arm warmers when the temperature dropped and for wet weather a Gore Wear Oxygene rain jacket over a long-sleeved base layer.

The Stats

 Day  Mileage  Ascent  Average Speed  Top Speed  Time
 1  80.15 miles  5729 ft 16.4 mph  41.6 mph  4:53:58
 2  68.56  5161  14.5  40.0  4:43:34
 3  78.72  4952  14.7  34.7  5:21:05
 4  76.48  5403  14.3  34.6  5:21:50
 5  86.38  3469  15.7  32.8  5:29:10
 6  73.40 3345  14.5  39.7  5:02:49
 7  69.93 3276 14.8  34.6  4:44:10
 8  80.92  4624  14.1  37.2  5:44:48
9  110.65  4823  15.9  36.9  6:56:44
 10  87.17  3475  16.7  33.5  5:12:58
 11  107.68  5467  16.0  39.3  6:44:51
 12  56.35  3153  17.0  42.6  3:18:41
 Total  975.70  51597  15.349  63:34:38

 

It is a great ride and I would do it again. Anybody can do it but you do need to train and prepare properly. The motorhome route worked for me and there are so many camp sites in UK that whatever mileage you chose as a daily target you would never be far from a campsite. It also removed the pressure from having to make destinations for pre booked accommodation. I met and spoke to some wonderful characters en route and generally when people knew what I was doing they could not have been more helpful.

If you are considering it, just choose a date, prepare and do it, you will not regret it, a great ride in a great country and an unbelievable sense of achievement when you have finished.

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