Lands End to John O'Groats



  • LEJOG : 29/7/13 - 6/8/13

      933 miles 9 days
    3 bikes 6 legs A van Couple of drivers An amazing amount of support And a load of brilliant memories   For when the mind and body are old, something to remind you of what we achieved on our epic adventure.   Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose!     (1) LE – Okehampton (106 miles) (2) Okehampton – Bristol (98 miles) (3) Bristol – Ludlow (98 miles) (4) Ludlow – Middlewich (82 miles) (5) Middlewich – Ambleside (110 miles) (6) Ambleside – Hawick (95 miles) (7) Harwick – Perth (Dunkeld) (116 miles) (8) Perth – Inverness (119 miles) (9) Inverness – JOG (109 miles)   Day 1   'A wonderful day in Duchy' and 'Don't worry it's only a passing shower!'    Dept Lands End @ 06.15 Arrived Okehampton @ 16.00 Total cycling time: 7 hours exactly! Climbing: 9,480 feet Mileage: 106 miles   The 05.15 alarm call was barely needed as a mixture of nerves and a sweaty room for 4 meant there was little sleep!    An excellent breakfast courtesy of Lands End hostel and we were off to the start. Pictures done we peddled away from England's most westerly point bound today for Okehampton in Devon. A wonderful days cycling in the Cornish and Devonian countryside lay ahead. The tail wind was welcome, the occasional heavy shower less so!    The highlights have to be the King Harry Ferry across the River Fal, St Michael's Mount in Penzance, the tin mine remains that litter the rugged Cornish moors, beautiful rivers, following a herd of cows in their pats for a mile in a tiny lane whilst chatting to the farmers wife - we've also been well educated into the yields of Holstein cows (the farmer was a female Jethro!), for Chris and I, a bar, not the one you'd expect us to enjoy but that of the geographical variety and the sign that stated the Travelodge that is home for the night was only half a mile away!    To be fair to Rud our driver for the first two days he was also a highlight; an excellent lunch was brought, he was waiting for us at the designated stops and our bags were waiting in our rooms when we arrived in Okehampton - nice touches!   It's fair to say for anyone wanting to eat in Okehampton then there is literally nowhere - stay on the A30 and head for Somerset is my shout! Finally a big thank you to Halfords for fixing a fuse in the van yesterday and for fixing Cona's gears today at lunchtime in an emergency, as a result Chris and I sat in Asda car park, St Austall for an hour in what was a welcome extended lunch! NB: there is very little 3G coverage in Okehampton from any of the major network providers!    Technical Incidents: Cona: gear issues Chris: rear puncture    Day 2    Okehampton to Bristol Distance 98.2 miles Elevation 4927ft   An early start (5am) followed by Will’s special porridge breakfast aided by the staff at the Travelodge staff in Okehampton. We set off  expecting bad weather and we weren’t disappointed, it rained constantly for the first 6 hours followed by a glorious afternoon on the Somerset levels then rolling in to Bristol was a pleasure.   Our first stop was Tiverton Tesco where our reliable support driver Jamie Rudkin was waiting with the van and much needed food and water. After re-fueling we set off for Will’s parents house in Taunton another 20 miles down the road. The roads were challenging, busy, wet and undulating with some difficult climbs. However we arrived safely in West Monkton and were greeted by Will’s family very graciously. Annie’s Lasagne slipped down like a cold beer on a hot day and we dried off in anticipation for what lay ahead in the afternoon. Cona and Will sat in dressing gowns kindly donated by ‘Big Phil’ (Will’s Dad
  • Formatting a knackered...

    oh well, it's on FB too

  • O.rangeCannon (kona-7) wrote (see)

    hmmm.... nice idea...

    keep going cona!

    I might need a thread for my stupid ride, ( newcastle to london in 24 hrs) - maybe do a post at each of the 7 feed stations .....

    Please tell me you are not map reading   image

    Cona, superb effort ... well done to you and your party !!

  • Day 5   'A day of two halves' or 'Beauty (The Lakes) and the beast (Wigan and Warrington)'   Dept Middlewich @ 06.10 Arrived Ambleside @ 15.15 Total cycling time: 7 hours 20 mins Climbing: 6, 435 feet Mileage: 110 miles   The toughest day in terms of mileage thus far was in prospect for the team today as we headed the 110 miles north from Middlewich bound for The Lake District.    The first part of the day belonged to the grim part of old industrial England, certainly not England's green and pleasant land. The rolling Cheshire plains made way to sprawling tower blocks, industrial estates, warehouses and dual carriageways - the only solace in this beastly sight was the flat flat land that made for easy mileage.  Lloyd was again an impeccable assistant and was on hand at every stop with food, water, words of wisdom and plenty of stories to keep us entertained!   The afternoon was a glorious cycle up through little quaint English villages, almost lost in time warp-esq states with dry stone walls aligning the roads and keeping most sheep from straying into them. I say most as one was hit by a car and lying in 2 pieces in the verge with guts 'an all' in the road! Steady climbs, wonderful views, what looked like superb pubs and some excellent down hill sections later we arrived, much to our delight in Ambleside.    Following our sports massage and ice baths yesterday a dip in Lake Windermere was in order and unbelievably the warm waters did not meet our needs - we wanted it colder for our medicinal purposes. Dinner was taken in the newly refurbished YHA with Edwin, Dave and his wife who work with Will who were up on an inspection visit.    To be fair incident wise it was a pretty dull day bar the lady whose personalised number plate read '1 Gil' and when greeted with 'Gil give us a wave' at some red traffic lights she did so with real gusto and then proceeded to pull into the next lay-by and carry on waving as we went past ever so slightly perplexed - to be fair we were just outside Preston so maybe it was to be expected - who knows.....   As for tomorrow it is onwards and upwards into our third and final country of the trip Scotland! 
  • Awesome mate.. Well done 

  • Day 6   'The Dogg's at the vets' and 'The Bonchester Bridge Disco Shear'   Dept Ambleside @ 06.30 Arrived Hawick @ 13.20 Total cycling time: 5 hours 55 mins Climbing: 6,586 feet Mileage: 95 miles   Day 6 didn't start well for the group as Chris had picked up a virus and had been vomiting throughout Thursday night then bravely cycled the 100 miles before collapsing at Ambleside. Last night was more of the same - sense prevailed and our Dogg was taken to the vets by his brother Matthew who was diagnosed as having Gastroenteritis or a dose of the famous 'Belgium toothpaste' a virus that was probably caught, according to the experts by inhaling 'shit' off the wet roads as he trailed the front rider. So the day started on a downward note.   With that in mind the climb up the Kirkstone Pass which is a category 2 hill for the first 6 miles and first hour was tough with heavy-ish legs, suddenly we realised the need to warm up! What followed was a hair raising down hill towards Ullswater - much nicer than climbing but 'shit your pants stuff' none the less!   From Ullswater the views, scenery, lovely little villages and people were all amazing. Plenty of hellos, amazing geographical 'U' and 'V' shaped valleys, Interlocking spurs galore and lots of rivers. The prevailing tail wind never let up and as driving on towards Scotland, the country whose famous sons include Gordon Strachan and Ally McCoist - what a nation!    We arrived in Hawick, a small town in Border country earlier than plan and made our way to Bonchester Bridge were The Horse and Hounds pub awaited us, the land lady Irene couldn't have been more welcoming, doing our washing, giving us a free three course dinner and putting on the Bonchester Bridge sheep shearing disco competition on for us! The way the comp works is whoever shears the sheep fastest wins the cup! She will be upset when only Lloyd, who put in another sterling shift today on the Welldricks Pharmacy van, will be strutting his stuff on the dance floor having had a gut full of Tennants super strength lager! We have been reliably informed that people have travelled from far and wide for the sheep shearing and Lloyds moves, apparently as far as New Zealand!   Tomorrow we head towards the Scottish capital and beyond after lunch, with Perth (or maybe a fraction further to take the edge off day 8) the overnight destination.   Just remember kids to always; "ride hard, ride safe".
  • Day 7   'Bonny old Scotland'   Dept Hawick @ 06.20 Arrived Dunkeld @ 15.45 Total cycling time: 7 hours 35 mins Climbing: 5450 feet Mileage: 117 miles   Day 7 was always going to be a tough, long slog of a day. 117 miles up and over the glorious Scottish hills and through idyllic quiet valleys, rivers flowing alongside many of the roads and friendly people again seemingly everywhere. The only dull part of the day was Edinburgh were the roads were awful, the drivers crap and the sign posting to get cyclists over the Forth Road Bridge just nothing short of diabolical - quite what will happen to Scotland if they gain independence from England is beyond me, an absolute shambles was Edinburgh!    Anyway, having had limited sleep last night due to the young farmers and some old boys getting absolutely slaughtered (with most driving home in the small hours) at Bonchester Bridge we set off weary eyed in rain which always makes things tougher! The rain however gave way to glorious sunshine that required sun cream to be applied and nice tail winds for most of the afternoon accompanied us northwards.    The second morning break at 50 miles was greeted with a bacon butty and plenty of shanter with the locals;£1.80 I thought was marvellous value! Then came the awful 20 odd miles through the shambolic Scottish capital before an afternoon easing our way through the valleys up through Kinross, Perth and to our final destination of Dunkeld at 117 miles.   Tomorrows ride takes us past the UKs premier ski resort of Aviemore and up some big old hills before descending to Inverness and then on to our static caravan based 10 or so miles north of Inverness. Get through tomorrow and the end is in sight!  Remember kids always 'ride hard, ride safe
  • Day 8   'We went up to The Highlands of Scotland, to the land of the loch and the glen!' Max Boyce.   Dept Dunkeld @ 06.15 Arrived Evanton @ 16.30 Total cycling time: 7 hours 30mins Climbing: 4,496 feet Mileage: 119 miles   Day 8 will be remembered by Dan and I for 3 things:  1. The sensational Scottish Highlands; 2. The Frenchman having a number 2 at the road side (literally!) and; 3. Being a bloody tough, long 119 miles!   Alarms rang at 05.00 and we were on the road by 06.15 having caught up on much needed sleep after the Disco-shear Saturday night!   The A9 proved to be a cruel mistress so we didn't heed the advice of many cycling forums and we headed for the old main A9 road north which is now one of Scotland's cycling routes.    Many 'helms' had written about its poor state and bring dangerous etc etc one even commented on suing the Scottish Government due its danger! Quite what these people make of the main road barely bares thinking about - the new A9 is a suicide road pure and simple for cyclists! So the old road was great - a little bumpy in places but no traffic and running through the heart of the Scottish Highlands. We spirited eagles, deer, herons amongst other things that we speculated on what they were. Cona was educated on all things glaciation from scree slopes to valley formation and pyramidal peaks to aretes!    This morning run was broken up again by a bacon butty stop in a cafe complete with dart board, it was clear that the ever confident Lloyd was a little scared by taking on Will! The ride up to Aviemore was taken at a steady clip - we even managed to drop a less travelled and far more fresh cyclist who couldn't live with the relentless driving pace we were now accustomed too!   Lunch in Aviemore, then the afternoon that was strange for many reasons. Firstly a farmer waving madly at us - Cona mused he was burying a body.... Secondly as mentioned earlier as we just reached the summit of a climb above Inverness we met a young French boy crying by his bike, we helped him out and the bike was weighing a good few stone and this child was probably absolutely spent anyway as he moved off we went ahead a good mile where his mother waited for him, she wasn't concerned about him so we carried on only to be met by another of the French party presumably the Dad having a poo literally by the side of the cycle path - crouched down with no care in the world that motorists and now us could see him just care freely relieving himself! Never has a rendition of 'oh eh le papier' to the tune of La Marseilles been sung so loudly by WP!   Anyway we rolled down into Inverness and over another huge bridge next to the Cally Thistle ground to meet Lloyd for our last stop. The final 15 miles was a real grind, into a head wind during while motorists flew by squirting us with wind screen washer and one clearly not realising we were there - if only there had been a chance to draw level with him then he would have had both barrels from a tired Will much like the 70 year old women in Lancaster as she tried to demolish him!   On arrival to Black Rock caravan park our brand new static caravan was waiting - 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, lounge etc was perfect. This is our home for 2 nights, as for now the Thatchers Gold is in the fridge and ready to be consumed tomorrow evening as and when we finally put what, was a mad idea back in October, to bed!   Remember kids always 'ride hard, ride safe!'
  • Day 9   'Culmination' repeat 'Culmination'   Dept Evanton (north of Inverness) @ 05.45 Arrived John O'Groats @ 13.30 Total cycling time: 5 hours 35 mins Climbing: 5,439 feet Mileage: 109 miles   FINAL TRIP STATS   - 934 miles ridden - 55,000 feet climbing - 58 hours and 58 minutes riding - Average speed of just over 15mph   In November Cona was sat on Wills sofa in Bristol and much to Jenni's dismay suggested we cycled LEJOG. After no more than a mouthful of whatever dinner Cona had cooked (he lodged with Will a night a week at the time) the deal was done - we'd cycle the length of the UK in 9 days. 934 miles in 9 days - simple. At the time Will was a 17 stone fat lazy bastard, Chris a professional rugby player who just said yes for something to do and Cona an Ironman. So training started and here we were 9 days ago sat on bikes in front of Lands End - a commercialised dump that signifies the most south westerly point of England (JoG is worse). The days passed, 'shit' passed Chris's mouth and a dose of the Belgian toothpaste rendered him a near death experience but due to the fact that Cona and Will speak so much of it maybe we got away with it! So at 05.00 this morning we woke to be faced with 109 miles of Scottish coastline between ourselves, just north of Inverness and JoG our target for the past 9 months.    The day was cool and crisp and what was to follow astounded both Will and Cona, scared of what the A9 may throw at us we set off fast, the breakfast stop at 25 miles at Dornoch was reached in 90 minutes - a puncture for Wills rear tyre a minor issue en route. The bacon butty stop again reached in little over an hour and 20 minutes later. Finally we were off a leash that dictated that tomorrow we'd have another 100 hilly miles to cycle - nothing was to be left in Scotland, pace was wanted and the grade A double diamond Tarmac (our grading system) was perfect to provide it. Some real climbing then met us between miles 50 - 90 just to remind us this was a challenge before rolling into Wick for lunch. Maybe cockily we thought we'd finished. But Scotland, like the rugby teams are irritating to the end and the final 15 miles was into a stiff headwind and with 3 big kicks uphill the final uphill kick with 2 miles to go to finish a real pain! Anyway with that done it was taken by us to cycle to the lighthouse first that marks the most north easterly point of the UK and then on to the tacky, commercialised John O'Groats site complete with a man who wanted paying for us to have our pictures taken with 'his' yes 'his' JoG signpost - it was private property so we were told we were presumably 'trespassing' on to have our photos taken! Anyway by now Thatchers Golds were open and photos were taken, bikes were stowed in the van and we headed for home - our static caravan in Evanton.    Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to text, call, tweet, Facebook or meet us over the past 2 weeks wishing us luck, thank you to those of you who have so very generously parted with your hard earned cash to help Cancer Research with their ongoing quest to find the cure to the terrible disease that is cancer it really did help to drive us on and finally we can now say we have done it; 934 miles in 9 days; amazing memories, great views, tough moments, loads of laughs, a Frenchman having a dump, Chris cycling 110 miles with Gastrointeritus into the Lake District before collapsing - what an effort from a hard, hard man and the for ever memorable disco-shear! A huge thank you to Jamie 'Rud' Rudkin, Jenni 'handbrake' King, Anna 'support driver' Derek and Lloyd 'The Knowledge' Conaway for giving up your time to drive the van, provide us with food, drink, laughter and morale lifting at times and for being the glue that held us together, without you we wouldn't have finished or even started - FACT! The final
  • M..o.useM..o.use ✭✭✭


    I'm in for next year too guys.

  • Brilliant reports Cona, really good read and this has inspired me to want to have a go.

    Its a epic journey, a test of will and stamina but overcoming the miles and all the sights and experiences must create an experience and memory which will last a lifetime.

  • Brilliant Cona...I want a go!

  • cracking effort Cona - top performance

  • image Cona brillinat mate very well done. image

  • Awesome lads, well done, great reading, you can tell you didn't write it lol

  • how did you guess that Rosey!!!!

    I think you'll find my England is very good, thankyouplease.

    p.s. we need to start TTing!

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