Tag Archives: lejog

Being videoed for a new LEJOG DVD

Cycling LEJOG

For our story of our LEJOG trip, click Cycling Lands End to John O’Groats

In 2003 I, along with 3 friends, cycled LEJOG, Lands End to John O’Groats, one end of the British mainland to the other over a distance of 1066 miles for our particular route. A fabulous journey I would recommend anybody to do. So I was surprised and flattered to be asked 9 years later to be interviewed and filmed for a new DVD to be produced about LEJOG and the route we used.

P1020142

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Cycling Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG)

Our LEJOG Story

Posing at the Lands End signpost at the start of our Lands End to John O'Groats cycle

The start of our Lands End to John O’Groats cycle

Introduction

In the summer of 2003, 3 friends and I spent 15 days cycling the classic British ‘End to End’ or LEJOG (or JOGLE if doing the other way!) from Lands End to John O’Groats, all 1066 Miles. This website is an account of our LEJOG cycle ride hopefully giving others the incentive to do it themselves. It also gives details of our LEJOG route, directions, GPS waypoints, preparation, bikes, training, advice, and any other information I can think of that might prove helpful to somebody else who has considered having a go themselves.

The LEJOG route we followed was one broadly based around the CTC (Cycle Touring Club) Scenic Route (scenic means hilly by the way!), with our own modifications particularly through Devon and Cornwall using local knowledge and a detour via the Isle of Arran to avoid Glasgow. Both bits we would highly recommend.

I hope you find it interesting and thanks for reading

Good luck.
Alan Pewsey

To help you navigate the way through our LEJOG story, I suggest taking the following route.

  • Introduction – Read on below!

For all the blog posts regarding our trip < click here >

©  Alan Pewsey 2003.

 

LEJOG – Postscript

In memory

In 2001 I lost both my father Maurice Pewsey and Mother-in-Law Margaret Weilding to Cancer. This website and the money raised from the trip in aid of MacMillan Cancer Relief is dedicated to their memory.

Maurice Pewsey

1922 – 2001

Margaret Weilding (nee Jones)

1932 – 2001

Would I do it again?

Yes, or something similar. We all enjoyed the trip – and each other’s company – so much that we are keen to do another. Perhaps something in France taking in a few classic Tour de France mountain stages just to see what they are like. (Since writing this we have done many more trips including a trip to the Alps climbing Galibier, Alpe D’Huez and the mighty Ventoux. Superb!)

Would I recommend it?

Definitely!!

Highlights

We all enjoyed the route and wouldn’t really change much of it in hindsight. Particular highlights though were the mountain route to Tongue, as well as our route through Cornwall and the West Coast of Scotland via Arran.

Lowlights

Bridgewater, Avonmouth, and the A82 through the Great Glen. The route we ended up doing out of Dumfries I also wouldn’t advise as very busy with traffic.

What would I miss the least now that we’d finished?

Tight fitting hot and steamy lycra shorts, anything pasta and Tracker chocolate bars.

Kit

Key to enjoyment to the whole trip was travelling light meaning we didn’t have to carry lots of weight up the hills. We kept everything so much to a minimum that their really wasn’t anything we didn’t use. Most (not all) YHA’s have washing machines these days so with the combination of modern quick drying cycle clothing, we only had 2 sets of cycle clothing to alternate each day, a pair of normal shorts for the evening, a lightweight fleece jumper and ronhills for cold weather, and a waterproof reflective cycle jacket for wet weather. I also had a pair of nylon waterproof overshoes to keep my feet dry.

The cycling leg and arm warmers available today are definitely worth an investment along with a windstopping gilet which keeps you warm without over heating. These items alone offer many combinations and give you loads of flexibility.

 

LEJOG – Accommodation

Accommodation

Finding Accommodation

beds for cyclists advertisementThere are many businesses and individuals who offer accommodation options that could be useful to you whilst cycling the End2End. The options range from campsites,  Independent hostels, YHA and SYHA hostels, B&B’s, hotel’s and so on. What’s available to you will depend on how rural your route is and how many of you there are. I have had recommendations from individuals which I’ve listed to get you started, failing that it’s a case of trawling the Internet.

Below I have given some links to sites that may help you in locating accommodation that best suits your needs.

  • Beds for cyclists:                                                                   http://bedsforcyclists.co.uk
  • Hostels & Budget Accommodation Booking Service:    Hostels and Budget Accommodation Worldwide
  • Youth Hostel Association:                                                   www.yha.org.uk/
  • Scottish Youth Hostel Association:                                   www.syha.org.uk/
  • AirBnB                                                                                    www.airbnb.com
  • Booking.com                                                                          www.booking.com
  • Bed and Breakfast Accommodation:                                www.bedandbreakfasts-uk.co.uk/
  • Campsites:                                                                             www.ukcampsite.co.uk
  • Tripadvisor:                                                                            www.tripadvisor.co.uk/
  • PremierInn:                                                                             www.premierinn.com/
  • Bed & Fed                                                                               www.bedandfed.co.uk
  • Travelodge:                                                                             www.travelodge.co.uk

LEJOG – Equipment

The Bike

The most important bit! The bike was custom built around a Giant OCR “Compact Aluminium frame and forks.

The OCR on the road to Tongue, fully laden.

Chainset

Shimano 105 Rear mech, Front mech and 105 Triple chainrings.

Gearing

Shimano HG70 25-12 tooth cassette and 30 – 42 – 52 chainrings. (We were very glad of those low gears for some of the hills in Devon & Cornwall especially, and at the end of a tiring day sometimes just to give the legs a little less stress.

Wheels

Mavic Cosmos 700c

Tyres

I used Continental Hybrid Bike Ultra Gator Skin 700 x 23c Tyre TYC18357 for the trip, although I have now changed to Continental GP 4 Seasons Vectran Tyre 700c X 23c, Black

Pedals

Shimano 520 Spd Pedal with Specialized SPD shoes.

The Rest of the Kit

Clothing

As far as cycle jerseys and padded shorts are concerned, there are plenty on the market and they are worth the money for the comfort and there quick drying properties. Some other items that I persoanlly find useful are:

Buff Headwear – These are tubular seemless pieces of material in various colours, including some with fleece that you can model into various forms of head and neck wear. Lightwight and worth the money in my opinion. Quite often I just wear mine around my neck as it helps to stop drips of rain getting in and they do have fantastic heat retaining properties.

Cycling Arm Warmers – Lightweight & take no space in your bag, can add that extra warmth when you need it without having to pack another jumper. Used inconjunction with a Gilet give you lots of options with minimal space required.

Cycling Leg Warmers – As above, saves you carrying a pair of long trousers for cycling meaning you can keep a pair purely for sue in the evening saving them from potentially getting wet.

Luggage

Travelled lightweight with just a single Altura Arran Bar Bag   and Atura rear rack bag (See picture of bike fully loaded.) The rear bag was carried on a seat post rack as my roadbike didn’t have the lugs to fix a full rack. Seat post rack  work very well but you just have to be careful regarding the weight carried as seat post bags come with maximum weight limits. We stayed at YHA’s mainly so no bedding was needed and used the excellent compact trek towel from Lifeventure  to keep space and weight requirements to a minimum.

Tool Kit

Consisted of puncture kit and spare tubes, chain links and link tool, spoke key, multitool (inc allen keys), pliers, spare cables. We shared the tools between us to keep weight down, although we each carried our own puncture kits and 2 spare innertubes. Over the course of the trip repairs between us consisted of the tubes and puncture repair kit, the chain tool / spare links (as we had 2 broken chains), 2 spare tyres, and one wheel replacement. Keith and I also had our spokes retensioned at Chester.

Sundries

Other stuff we took was the usual such as first aid kit, camera, spare set of cycling kit, sunglasses

Food and Snacks

Hydration is very important and you need to keep topping up your fluid levels all the time. Each of us had 2 bottle carriers each mounted on the bike frame, and bottles that carried 750ml of liquid each. I carried one bottle of water and the second one had either water or a carbohydrate drink in it such as Lucozade Sport, depending on what we could find. Food snacks were generally made up with what was available and consisted of either fruit (bananas and the like) or chocolate bars. This supplemented our refreshments stops at café’s or supermarket restaurants which we did at mid morning, lunchtime and mid afternoon. Little and often is the key.

Mapping

My main source of mapping was using the Memory Map  electronic maps based on the OS 1 250 000 road atlas of Great Britain. I printed and enlarged the bits appropriate to our route. I also had loaded the appropriate 1 50 000 Landranger sections of the route onto my Compaq IPAQ (times have changed since then!)  linked to a bluetooth GPS so if we really were stuck coming into a city like Carlisle or Chester for instance where the 1 250 000 map doesn’t have enough detail, we could call on the fifth member of the team, Gladys the GPS!

I have now moved on from the Compaq iPAQ and have Viewranger OS maps on my Android Mobile phone. This gives me OS maps of the UK and I can buy the map tiles I need for a particular area of the whole of the UK. Failing that you can also purchase a Memory Map GPS device that comes with a handlebar mount in the box.  Personally however, I would avoid these as my experience of them is not great. Read my blog, a link follows in this paragraph.  You can also buy cycle computers with GPS functionality built in, such as the Garmin Edge 800, although I think the mapping maybe a little bit limited although they do give other cycling related features. If you want a GPS not just for cycling so that you can use it in other activities and maximise its use & investment, a GPS built into a cycle computer may not be the best option for you. I personally use a Satmap Active 10 GPS, in addition to the Android Viewranger app, for walking and in my work with the Mountain Rescue Team. It’s, in my opinion a fabulous piece of kit and very well designed. I did purchase a Memory map Adventurer 3500 GPS before the Satmap, but it is an awful device. Over priced, badly designed and poor follow up service as the forum demonstrates. I have posted a review of both devices on my blog should you wish to look into either device. If you do decide to purchase a GPS, make sure you do your homework first and thoroughly research the features and have a clear idea of how you wish to use it.

Safety

We all wore helmets for a majority of the journey, and Keith and I also had small Handlebar end cycle mirrors which are superb for keeping your eye on whats coming up behind you. Added with lights (including LED safety lights) reflective strips and reflective cycle clothing, this formed our key strategy in staying alive

LEJOG – Our route

Our Full End to End Route

Below is a map of our complete route End to End. This is broadly based on the CTC Scenic Route with our own modifications, especially in Devon & Cornwall to avoid some of the worst hills and of course, the holiday traffic.

Our End to end LEJOG route map

Our End to end LEJOG route

 

 

LEJOG – Day 15 to John O’Groats

Final Day, Day 15 – Tongue SYH to John O’Groats – 64 miles

(Previous Day 14)

We stayed at the Caberfeidh Guest House at John O’Groats. There was a Youth Hostel at John O’Groats but it appears this has now closed.

Lejog, the finish photograph at John O'Groats

The finish!

The day’s events

It seemed strange that having gone through various pain and psychological barriers, and that cycling for 6 – 7 hours each day was now our “days work”, that today would be the last day. We’d been travelling fairly light for the whole journey but today with Glenis being a “support vehicle” we were able to offload everything except water bottle and puncture outfits. This made a huge difference but some of this advantage was offset by a strong Easterly head wind hitting us in the face for most of the day.

The final day of our LEJOG between Tongue and Thurso

Between Tongue and Thurso

The first 35 Miles of the day’s ride was along switchback roads across moorland like scenery, following the sand-duned coastline. The scenery reminded us very much of the north Cornwall coast around Portreath/Porthtowan/Perranporth/St Agnes. The remaining half of the ride to John O’Groats was flatter but not quite so scenic, especially past Doonreay Nuclear Power Station (apparently they have a good selection of luminous marker pens in their gift shop!).

Last day stretches at Borgie

Last day stretches at Borgie

Despite the headwind, we still made good time into Thurso. We stopped for our mid morning tea and cake in a very ordinary bakery before taking the road again for the final leg towards John O’Groats. To let our welcoming committee catch up, we decided to stop at a Pub in Huna for a quick pre-celebratory beer – just 6 miles from the finish.

We arrived at John O’Groats at 1:30pm and crossed the famous Start/Finish line to cheers, party poppers and bottle of bubbly from Glenis and the kids.

After the obligatory photographs, we got talking to a small group of motorcyclists from Barnstaple in Devon. They were feeling proud having ridden their 1000cc motorcycles from Lands End to John O’Groats (with a support van) in 7 days. They were somewhat deflated when they asked what we’d been doing.

Thurso

Thurso

Food

We only stopped at Thurso for refreshments and the bakery we went too was very ordinary and not up to the standard we were used too.

The Route

The route was pleasant from a cycling point of view and scenery today – especially the part before Thurso. After Thurso although ok, it wasn’t stunning. The big negative was the gale force head wind we had to endure, and I can imagine in bad weather, this section would be very bleak.

Climbing Profile

Tongue SYH to Reay

LEJOG day 15 part 1 climbing profile

LEJOG day 15 part 1

Reay to John O’Groats

LEJOG day 15 part 2 climbing profile

LEJOG day 15 part 2

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Tongue SYH John O’Groats

64

1066

1456

1474

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 15 is listed below (1:50 000). For an electronic route that you can load on to a GPS or mapping application go to  GPS Waypoints.

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Out of Tongue SYH turn R (not L) and R again on minor road (and NCR1) that runs north alongside the kyle before beginning a gentle ascent of a hill before joining the A836 where L. Follow A836 through Strathtongue, Borgie Bridge, (still on NCR1), Bettyhill, Strathy, Reay, Thurso, Dunnet, all the way to John O’Groats.