/ End to End for a complete beginner?

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jack_44 - on 29 Jul 2013
Hi all, after a few beers me and a friend somehow thought it would be a great idea to cycle from Land's End to John O' Groats. Neither of us are cyclists, I mean I don't even have a bike!! Thinking of doing it next summer. I know its a broad question, but can anyone offer any advice. I am very tight up with money. Looking at spending around £300 on a bike. Just wondering if anyone can help with any information on bikes, training, how difficult it will be etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
alanw - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44: Having just completed LEJOG a couple of weeks ago I guess I can offer some advice. How hard it is depends on how long you take and what the weather conditions are like. We took 2 weeks in great conditions so it really wasn't that hard at all - do it in a week with a head wind and I'd imagine it's a different ball game all together.

Also depends on whether you're on your own or supported and if you plan to camp/hostel/b&b. I suspect given you're tight with money it'll probably be unsupported camping. If this is the case it will mean carrying a lot of stuff. This will slow you down and also mean a lot more strain on the bike. You might get a suitable bike for £300 but if you could stretch a bit you'd get one that's a lot more likely to survive the trip.

Other than that, a bit of training and just time/miles on a bike (especially on hills) between now and next summer should be fine. We met a few B&B owners who told us that they regularly get people in their seventies doing it so you should be fine.

Probably a lot more I could say but generally it's a great ride and highly recommended.
dale1968 - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44: It will be difficult :) but training is the key in all weathers as well as admin/bike maintenance/skills ect there is plenty on the web heres one http://www.landsend-to-johnogroats.co.uk/home/middle/training
a lakeland climber on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44:

Get the best bike you can - visit your local bike shops and see if they've any second hand bikes, or local cycling clubs. Explain what you want it for so you don't get a pure racer rather than something a bit more relaxed in how it rides.

The distance is approximately 1000 miles, allowing for a day's travel at either end then you actually have 14 days out of a 16 day period that you get with a two week holiday going Friday night to Sunday evening which gives roughly 70 miles per day. My wife did the CTC route which does a two hard days then an easy day cycle. The hard days were around 90 miles and the easy day was 40 miles or so. Obviously it depends on where the accommodation was booked for.

While 90 miles might sound like a lot, you've got all day to do it so having a plan is a good idea. Often Youth Hostels and the like don't open their doors until 1700 or so so there's no need to rush only to have to hang around for several hours before you can get a shower and get changed. Basically bike for a couple of hours then find a cafe and have something to eat, bike another couple of hours and have lunch, then bike to your evening's destination. This splits up the ride in to small manageable chunks and keeps you fed.

Training: just get riding a bike as often as possible and try and get a lot of consecutive days on the bike rather than just weekends. A lot of people do big mileage at the weekends but little during the week so LEJOG suddenly bites on the third or fourth day so 50 miles Sat and Sun then a 20 miler on Monday and Tuesday will be better than two 70 mile rides on Sat and Sun and nothing during the week.

Kit: Get a saddlebag - Carradice make good ones - that's all the space for kit you'll need. You need to take the minimum you can. Spare cycling shorts and top, evening clothes, sandals, waterproof and bits for the bike such as spare inner tubes; puncture repair kit; multi-tool. It takes a bit of discipline to get the weight down

One thing you can do with clothing is to post spare clothes to say every fourth stopping place, when you get there pick them up and the dirty clothes or stuff you don't need back home. This way you get clean clothes fairly regularly but don't have to carry a lot whilst actually riding. You'll have to check with the establishments themselves if you can do this and you'll have to put an "expected by" date on the parcel after which they can either bin it or post it back (remember to put a prepaid return envelope in it so you can post back the dirty clothes).

It's quite popular but unless you are going much faster or slower than the other people you aren't likely to see many of them out on the road.

My wife and her friend got to Penzance by train and were stopping there so nipped out to Land's End in the evening rather than do it on the first morning.

Good luck!

ALC
AlunP - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44:

Try lon las Cymru as a warm up!

4 or 5 days - superb quality roue
richyfenn on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44:

Do it the other way round (JOG to LE), down hill all the way ;)

Seriously though, with a bit of training and preparation it'll be great. Go for it.

Good luck.
balmybaldwin - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44:

As you aren't a cyclist, I'd say the most important thing is to get your bike, and get out training now. Gradually increase your mileage over the year ahead until you are comfortable doing 100 miles a day (with weighted panniers if you are going self supported. It's very easy to increase your training too quickly and mess your IT band up.

If I were you I would go and try a range of bikes for size and fit, as this is very important, especially for doing distance, and then if you can, try to spend your 300 on a second hand bike as you'll get a huge amount more for you money, but keep a bit back for adjustments like stems so that you can get the bike to fit you properly.

Also, budget wise £300 for a bike is fine, but factor in a decent pair of cycling shorts, shoes, pedals, helmet, rain cape, spare tubes etc

HTH
JohnnyW - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44:

I did it this year in 9 days on a supported ride. It would have definitely have taken another couple of days if we had a load of gear etc.
I got a Claude Butler Echelon for £230 off Ebay, and it was excellent. £300 will be fine as a budget, but get a second hand 'better' bike rather than a heavier, lower quality newer bike I'd say.
As for training, there are loads of training plans on the 'net. The one I used was a 6 week graduated 'Century Ride' plan, based around one long ride each week, and making up the rest of the mileage across the week. I like the flexibility of that, building up your miles around weather and work commitments. I had been riding for many months, as well as spinning in the winter though, so I was coming from a decent base fitness.
My main advice is to build up gradually, even on the ride itself. I was certainly fit and strong enough, but the sudden hike in daily mileage played havoc with mine (and many others') achilles tendons, so get used to several days of big miles.
Oh, and finally, do it South to North - The prevailing wind will help, and as we did it the other way around, Devon and Cornwall are brutally hilly when you have 850m+ in your legs!

Good luck, and enjoy it. It's very satisfying.
pwo - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44: Did this two years ago unsupported and carrying all our own kit in panniers. We covered 1,098 miles (via western Isles) and had a bloody head wind, rain and gales all the way up and did it in 11 days. I was very comfortable cycling 100+ miles per day in training but it was a different ball game with panniers and a head wind. You name the type of bike and someone has done it. Provided you you plan well in advance, cut your load to the minimum and train reasonably well then it is very achievable. Enjoy it. It's well worth it. Lon Las Cymru is Ok but very short in comparison to LeJog it can take 1 day or 4-5 days depending how you're feeling. Good luck
Clint86 - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44: Try and do it properly or else leave it until you have more time/money. We did it over 3 weeks which included 3 rest days. We took diversions across to Arran for example. We used sustran routes quite often. We took the ferry across the Mersey after cycling around the Wirral. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.
steveej - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44: I did JOGLE in summer 2011.

There are a number of ways to skin this cat and you will need to tailor the advice to the way you intend to do it.

1. Fully Self Supported (Camping) - will be the cheapest but will take the longest as you have to carry tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear etc. On day 2 I met a guy on an ancient hybrid type bike with only 3 gears and a plastic box cable tied to his handlebars. He managed it on the cheap but it took a fair few weeks. We also met a couple in Carlisle who were fully loaded and had taken 2 weeks to get there from JOG! needless to say they had run out of holiday and had to go home without finishing.

2. Full Support - a support vehicle carrying all your stuff, either camping or staying in b&b's, travel lodges or camping. Cost varies, but will be much faster (which helps keep cost down) as you don't have to carry anything. Problems are you need a support driver whos prepared to take a substantial amount of time off work just to watch and prepared to drive a lot.

3. The Credit Card Jogle (what we did) - No support vehicle, but we stayed in a mix of B&Bs, travel lodges, hostels etc. Average accommodation was about £40 - £45 for the room split between 2. Eating out in pubs etc, plus day food, actually cost a fortune....I reckon the two of us probably spent about £900 on food in ten days (£50 evening meal and drinks, deserts etc + £15 on lunch in café + £15 on sweets, chocolate, falpjacks, monster energy drinks etc. With trains, I reckon we spent close on £2k for the total trip, accommodation, food, drink and trains from start to finish. but we weren't frugal, we just bought whatever we wanted. We carried a bar bag and a rack bag with flipflops, night-time t-shirt and shorts, tooth brush, wet jacket. I wore the same cycling shorts all week as I could wash them in the sink and dry them overnight. The only other bits were inner tubes and a basic tool kit and pump. We did it on racers which was far better as you can go much faster and get the distance covered quicker each day and then rest. 8 hours in the saddle is better than 12 hours in the saddle because its not your legs that hut, but your neck and wrists and arse.


If I were to do it again I would try and get a support van. That way you can camp and cook your own food which would be the best balance of speed and low cost. But you need someone to do it.

Training - I had never ridden a road bike until 6 weeks before I did it. Its not physically demanding, more mentally boring. Its actually quite mundane spending 8 hours spinning your legs with ulcers in your mouth from all the food your eating. The most important part of training is getting your bum ready for it.

I can see why it appeals to retired people as they have much more time to actually spend some time at the places they're passing through. If your doing it in < 2 weeks its actually pretty much a heads down and crack on affair.

The only other thing I would say is get a descent bike that is in good order and unlikely to break down. People have done it on a skateboard, a unicycle etc so don't listen to the people who work in bike shops. If I had a tenner for everytime a bike shop assistant told me I couldn't do Jogle on my bike Id be a very rich man. Funnily enough, none of them had ever done it themselves.
steveej - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to steveej:

oh and the other thing.....make sure you finish closest to where you live, as pretty much all you'll want to do is get home.
Tricky Dicky - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to jack_44: Don't underestimate how much this is going to cost.........
jack_44 - on 01 Aug 2013
In reply to jack_44:

Thanks everyone for the help. The advice has been great.

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