following is a daily log for Helen and Roger's cycle bike ride from
Lands End to
John O'Groats (LEJOG) in the summer of 2006, cycled during the World
football. In 2006, the smoking ban had recently started in Scotland,
but not in England. There was no external support, and it took the 49
less than 2 weeks, carrying their own luggage. About £3000 was raised
for Marie Curie Cancer Care. If you are thinking of cycling this
yourselves, send us an
email and we will provide you with as much
information as we can.
training for LEJOG
started mid January with a target of one long ride per week of 40 miles
and a weekly total of 70 miles. Each month this was increased by 10, so
Feb was 50 mile long ride and 80 mile total, June was 90 miles and 120
total. In practice, we rarely achieved the target long distances, due
6 hours it takes to do say a 80 mile ride over the hills.
was a wash out due to the wind and rain, and the various foreign
business trips caused further gaps in the training. January and
February was icy and bitter but just great. Total miles covered during
the training was around 1600 each. However, here we are in June ready
to go, as long as the sun is shining!
record, route & facts and figures:
cover about 1,000 miles.
The record for
shortest time is 1 day and 20 hours in 2001
impressive: 14 days in 1882 on a penny farthing
Most impressive when you consider the state of the roads then and the
lack of bridges.
the oddest form of transport ...... a motorised toilet!
It should take
us about 14-15 days, averaging 70 miles a day.
We will stay in
B & B's and maybe the odd youth hostel (cheap but with horrible
breakfast) - we want to travel light.
route is on B roads wherever possible. If not then minor A roads. The
shortest route is by A roads
which is easier (less hilly & about 150 mls less) but not
Any record attempt is always done on the flatter A roads mainly because
of the lack of steep hills and no sharp bends but if you have ever
cycled along the A30 in cornwall, you will know just how unpleasant
will go from the South West tip of England, via Bodmin, Bristol,
Telford, Blackburn, Penrith, Edinburgh and Inverness to the North East
We will wear
yellow lycra - not pretty at 49 years old!
loss is about 8lbs. See the epilogue at the end for the actual loss.
- Giant OCR and Marin Lucas
Firstly, thank you to all who have sponsored
us for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Every little helps, so whether big or
small – thank you.
Took the train to Penzance, then 11 miles against a gale to Sennen,
about 3 miles from Lands End. No punctures so far, so a good start for
tomorrow. Being mid summer (21st June) and about as far west as you can
go in the UK, it stayed light until gone 10:00pm, which was about the
time we arrived in Sennen. Tomorrow will be a quick trip to Lands End
for photos, then around 70-80 miles to Bodmin via Penzance and Redruth.
Our 1st B&B smelt of boiled cabbage and the decor is hideous.
The only way is up!
66 miles to Bodmin today, but first some more
information on Lands End (LE).
The eagle eyed among you will notice that the signs on the post at LE
are missing. That is because they charge for photos and someone might
just sneak in for a free one in the early hours. At 7.30 in the morning
no one was there to put the sign up or charge us.
A heart warming tale:
A man in his eighties had had a lifelong ambition to cycle LE-JOG and
was determined to realise that ambition despite his families
objections. He did
it last year with his son on a tandem trike.
Bodmin,although once the county town of Cornwall, is one of
those Cornish towns that is best missed. The grey stone and slate
houses gives the place a depressing feel, especially when wet. However,
one unmissable place is Bodmin Gaol. This Victorian jail depicts all
the horrors of our ‘civilised’ society in the 19th Century. Examples
include the death sentence for a 16 year old for setting fire to a
haystack. The place has been done on a low budget, but the cold dank
building and examples of past sentences makes the place a must visit.
Combine it with a trip to the Eden project.
70 miles today, 136
total, from Bodmin to our house in Devon, via
Camelford, Holdsworthy (thanks for the lunch Jan) and Torrington. If
you read any book about cycling Land End John O'Groats (LEJOG) they all
mention just how bad the hills of Devon and Cornwall are. They are
likened to dragon's teeth - short and sharp. The books are not wrong.
Today was tough. This dragon had many sets of teeth. At the bottom of
each steep hill are two right angle bends and a narrow bridge,
preventing any build-up of speed on the downhill leg helping on the
The weather has been kind so far. Both days have had slight tail winds,
with a maximum temperature of 18C - ideal for cycling. However, even in
these warm (not hot) conditions, drinking enough liquid is a challenge.
Because one's body looses salts when sweating, we use an electrolyte
drink that replenishes the salts and sugars. It tastes absolutly
disgusting. Anyone who has tried Dioralyte will know.
Tomorrow Roger is busy until about 5pm, so it will only be a short 40
mile cycle to Taunton in Somerset - 1 county per day.
Finally, we have left the Devon &
Cornish hills. The route over Exmoor (stunning scenery) took us via
Bampton to the flat plains of Somerset (a complete novelty as there are
no flat roads where we live). A mere 46 miles today taking
the total from Lands End to 182. We were unable to leave until 17.00
today due to Project Propeller
Every year Roger flies 3 ex WW2 pilots to a location for a
get-together. About 300 ex pilots come from all parts of the UK. This
year the meeting was at Halfpenny Green airfield near Birmingham. These
3 guys, all in their mid 80s are great. They probably think Roger is
doing them a great favour, but in reality, their outlook on life makes
it the other way around. I guess that when you have lost many of your
friends during the various war time raids, you outlook has to change.
Anyhow, this year’s meeting is on the 24th June, hence yesterday's
diversion back to Devon
Tomorrow (Sunday), although a day of rest, will be about 80 mls to
Left Taunton too early for breakfast, so set
off to find the transport cafe voted 2nd best in the UK. It is on the
A38 near Bridgewater. It was closed (Sunday). So, went to the M5
motorway service area at Bridgewater. Unable to find the bike racks.
To Bristol via the Somerset levels, just like Essex marshland, and over
the Mendips. Bristol is surprisingly cycle friendly, including on
Brunel's masterpiece, the Clifton suspension bridge.
Final destination, Gloucester - 90miles today, 272 total since Lands
Tomorrow, aiming for Telford or Market Drayton
How many car drivers wear lycra? Why do all Travel Inn receptionists
ask us for the car number plate?
Anyone waiting for the nightly update will
have noticed that this one was late. Too tired after 103 miles! (375
total from Lands End, approx 625 to go to John O'Groats). From
Gloucester via Ludlow and Telford to Market Drayton. Helen's father and
wife Joyce live in M.D. so a free bed for the night. Thanks Joyce and
Dad for your wonderful hospitality.
Shropshire has many surprises - some beautiful market towns and a
sprinkling of hills to give Devon a run for it's money.
A lesson learnt in Gloucester - dont eat a hot curry before a long
cycle. Most uncomfortable.
Up North now, in Bolton. We cycled slowly in
case a pack of whippets jumped out but none seen, only pigeon
droppings and broken glass.
Ever tried booking your bike onto a train? These days, most people book
their tickets through the web, however you cannot book the bikes this
way. There is no central booking system for bikes, so having bought
your tickets, you have to either phone the rail company direct (in
India, naturally) and try to book the bike onto the train (works with
Great Western but not Virgin trains) or go to a rail station and try to
book it there.
There is only one train a day from John O’Groats and on this, bike
spaces are in short supply. At peak times, Scotrail run a lorry to take
the bikes to Inverness. Today we discovered that this lorry only runs
week days. We intended to leave JOG on Saturday. Looks like we will
have to cycle more miles each day to gain 1 day.
The last time we had Sudocrem on our bottom was about 49 years ago.
Return trip for bikes now sorted. They
travel on a van on Friday 7th whilst we go by train.
We are now in Shap, in the foothills of the lake district. 90 miles
today, 530 total, approx 470 to go.
These 90 miles were some of the hilliest hills we have yet met. The
forest of Bowland in Lancashire was beautiful but especially hilly -
maximum speed reached downhill was 48mph.
Blackburn was interesting. A big town, very light on traffic. Spot the
woman not wearing a burka. In a school playground of 200 or so, it was
obvious there were no white children as the kids were too immaculatly
Lost an hour in the morning when the road turned into a quarry on the
Why was Yorkshire's county sign the smallest and cheapest we have met?
(see the photo below if you don't believe me)
We are now about 20miles into Scotland,
North of Langholm 602 mls completed, approx 400 to go. To celibrate
this achievement, it was a toss between a 4 star country hotel (voted
best scottish breakfast) or a Buddhist retreat. The retreat won. With
hindsight, sitting cross legged for 1 hour of evening prayers was not a
sensible decision after all the cycling.
Apart from the knees, the rest of our bodies are coping well. Ibuprofen
and Asprin are useful partners.
The North South divide does exist, or a least it does for traffic
density. North of Blackburn the traffic is about a quarter of that
Mobile phone reception now poor, so having to search for reception to
send this mail.
Had our first scotch pie for the trip. Now we know why so many Scots
Yesterday, we washed our souls in the
Buddhist retreat, today the rains washed our bodies and bikes. However,
with the correct cycling clothes one does not notice the rain.
Initially, during training we used normal shorts and T shirts, however
once it rains, these stick to you. Proper cycling clothes, although
they look daft, are ideal for the job.
Tyres - I will never moan about the cost of car tyres again. Roger’s
tyres last a maximum of 1000 miles, and to achieve this, the front and
rear must be rotated. Helen’s, due to her sylph like figure,
last a little longer (about 3000 miles). At around £15 per bike tyre,
car tyres now seem cheap. Roger had not rotated his tyres at 500 miles,
so his back tyre has worn out. A new one was fitted today. Thank you
Travel Inn for allowing their bedrooms to be used as a cycle repair
Now in Edinburgh, 662 miles done, approx 340 to go.
Money saving tip - drive to Edinburgh to buy your fuel. It is about 5p
a litre cheaper here.
Another 80 miler, from Inverness to
Pitlochry, via Perth. Not that the route demanded 80miles. We followed
No 77 cycle route from Perth, and although very quiet and picturesque,
does go round the houses and is poorly marked. We ended cycling over a
rickety bridge over a salmon leap.
We passed a woman in her sixties, cycling slowly to John O Groats. She
was very heavily laden with camping gear but seemed to be enjoying the
adventure. She mentioned meeting a number of men along the route, all
with grim, set faces, aiming to complete LE-JOG in the minimum time. We
were advised to enjoy it and treat it as a holiday and this has been
very good advice.
Perth is a stunning city and well worth a visit. What it is like in
deepest winter is another matter.
Clever these Scots. They predicted the demise of England's football
team 2 days ago as soon as we entered Scotland. At least that is what
we assume as we have not seen a single English flag up here.
Imagine a small Scottish skiing village
nestling in the foothills of the Cairngorms. Now fill this same village
with 3000 members of the Tartan Army - Scotlands football supporters
club. Welcome to Aviemore, awash with kilts, beer and testosorone, our
Many members of the tartan army save weekly to have money to follow
Scotland to the world cup. If Scotland does not qualify (like this
time) they all meet somewhere for a long weekend of drinking. No one
told us before we booked Aviemore!
here we came by a dedicated cycle route, the longest we have come
across, it stretches from Perth to Inverness and takes a scenic, often
tortuous route. It is hilly and the surface often abysmal with loose
gravel. We took it to avoid the rather fast A9. Our tyres were on the
thin side for the gravel (23mm). Better to go for wider 28mm next time,
despite the extra drag.
miles now done from Lands End with less than 200 to go over 4 days to
reach John O'Groats.
probably don’t want to know this but did you know that cyclists do not
wear knickers under their cycling shorts. If you do your skin is rubbed
away even quicker. Thanks to Helen’s friend Marjet for this advice.
Sorry Mum, I know you are not happy about this (in case we have an
accident – what would the nurses think?)
Whilst you are all sweltering in your
southern heatwave it has been our coldest day so far.
We are now in Tain, about 35 miles north east of Inverness. Most of the
day we wore 2 layers, just to keep warm.
We have been advised to avoid the busy direct route to John O Groats
(about 90 miles away) and take a quieter but longer route that takes us
through the centre of the Highlands. There is unlikely to be any mobile
phone reception in these remote parts, so this may be the last update
for a few days.
For luggage, Roger has a front and rear bag, and Helen just a rear bag
(see earlier pictures). This is all we have for 2 weeks. Apart from
toiletries, bike repair bits 2 bivvi bags and a few essentials, we have
one set of clothes for evening wear plus our cycling wear. The cycling
gear is washed each night so has to be quick drying. No room for warm
clothes or Sunday best. Most other cyclists seem to be
carrying much more than us. Perhaps they are camping or maybe just
better dressed or fresher smelling.
For tomorrow, the Scottish forecast tells us that the weather will be
Haar. Is that good or bad?
We are now on the most northern coast of the
UK and Scotland at Tongue. Just the odd wisp of a phone
signal here. The road from Lairg to Tongue was stunning, going across
the moor, around the edge of locks and between 3000' mountains. If
anyone else is thinking of doing this trip, DO NOT MISS THIS PART.
Only about 65 miles now to JOG but this will be spread over 2 days due
to train bookings.
The hotels here are saying that tourists numbers are down, blaming the
Ever wondered where southern cars go once they reach 4, and are too old
to compete with the neighbour's? Well, they come to the highlands where
they rust away into old age.
Today was the day of the fly - black house flys in
their millions. When cycling on the flat or downhill, they stayed away,
but on uphill parts there was no escaping. Every one wanted to drink
from our sweaty bodies. The swarm was so numerous that breathing was
difficult without having a mouthful.
This was on the Northern coastline between Tongue and Thorso, our
overnight stop. Tomorrow is onto John O Groats, then to Wick for the
train home starting Friday.
Scottish pubs no longer need pub signs. Just look for the smokers
outside on the pavement.
mileage was 1010 miles - Lands End to John O'Groats (LEJOG). Actual
miles cycled was around 1100, including travelling to and from the
ends, small detours etc.
bikes performed well. One puncture only plus minor adjustment to gears
time taken (due to train bookings) was 15 days, but this could have
been condensed to 14 or 13 days.
were lucky with the weather. Never too hot, and a prevailing southerly
first week is the worst, whilst ones body adjusts to the daily grind.
By week 2, the body has adjusted. During the first week, constant food
intake is required. By the 2nd, one's body can go great distances
between meals. We used isotonic drinks in the 1st week, but not the 2nd.
weight loss was only 2 lbs. Must be all the pub meals and second
breakfasts. If you read other reports of cycling LEJOG, people often
talk about gaining weight. However people who walk LEJOG always appear
to lose weight, often large amounts. See more about cycling LEJOG
weight loss here.
loss on a recent cycle through France was a more impressive
4-6 lbs. We put this difference down to French cuisine verses English
are thinking of repeating this in 2016. Anyone want to join
Finally - this is the only advert you will see on this site:
Are you cycling LEJOG for charity and looking for a charity to support? Have a look here
at a charity that is supporting the Maasai people in southern Kenya.
All money raised goes to Kenya as there are no UK salaries or expenses.