Lessons learned from doing LEJOG

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
@I like Skol , a couple of friends and I completed our LEJOG a couple of weeks ago. We wanted a challenging but not crazy schedule of 11 days. Staying in B&Bs and small hotels. For us all it was our first multiday tour. Here are the lessons I learned:

1. Planning and preparation made everything run smoothly. When we were tired we knew where we were going, what our accommodation was like, where we were having a cafe stop, where we were eating dinner. It made our route great. Virtually no busy roads and loads of spectacular bits

2. Eat and drink enough and your body can cope with quite a bit of punshment

3. We quickly learned that managing our departure from the B&B and our cafe stops needed to improve. We were wasting a lot of time not being ready by depart time, sitting around waiting to order food etc. We also found that we were tired in the evening so went to bed earlier than usual so woke up earlier so we tended to be on the road by 8am instead of the planned 9am

4. Devon and Cornwall are hilly but not particularly so and the views of the N Cornwall coast make the hills there worthwhile. Scotland is easy cycling

5. You can get by with surprisingly little kit if you're B&Bing. Mine was 3kg incl bags. You can do it on whatever bike you like providing it's been looked after.

6. Plan for the worst re mechanicals but expect the best. All we had between us was one puncture and that was that

7. Wet shoes don't dry overnight but washing and rolling kit in towels like a Swiss Roll and standing on the roll is very good at drying things

8. The generosity of people along the way was amazing. Free lunches, free ferry crossings, people just giving us cash when they heard the charity we were riding for.

9. Finally, the UK is amazing and cycling is the best way to absorb it.

Next year.....hmmmm, maybe Rhine from Rotterdam to source in Swiss Alps

Edit to add: Having a group of similar ability, similar outlook cyclists made it a real pleasure. Nobody struggled and nobody (perhaps Steve did) felt like we were holding back. All easy going, all enjoy good quality food and a couple of beers in the evening

Second Edit: We slipped in a half day midway. We stayed in Crewe (having done back to back centuries to get there from Wellington in Somerset) and then did a quick morning 40 mile ride home. This gave us all afternoon and evening to relax. I think it's fair to say we all felt much refreshed setting off the next morning. I would recommend slipping in a short day if the schedule allows
 
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robgul

Guru
Your comments are pretty much the same as mine after my first E2E in 2005 - it's a great ride - you'll need to be planning to ride it in the other direction!

.... I would think again about the Rhine idea - from Rotterdam to Koblenz it's pretty much a big, wide, brown expanse of water with giant barges moving along (many with what looks like scrap metal or other waste) A lot of it has a cycle-path (when I rode quaite a bit it about 5 or 6 years agao the path was concrete block paving with holes - making for an uncomfortable ride on a tourer with 28mm tyres.

If you want a great ride then Calais to Montpelier is a good 10/11 day ride with lots of stuff to see and wine to taste. [There's info about it on my website]
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
From my semi-Lejog earlier this year (I was riding with someone who did the whole thing. I did the slightly less famous WeYor - Weymouth-York) I can echo most of these. It all went smoothly due to plenty of planning. Re point 3 - I was always the one running around like an eejit when it came to departure time, while my efficient friend sat patiently waiting.
 
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OP
nickyboy

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
From my semi-Lejog earlier this year (I was riding with someone who did the whole thing. I did the slightly less famous WeYor - Weymouth-York) I can echo most of these. It all went smoothly due to plenty of planning. Re point 3 - I was always the one running around like an eejit when it came to departure time, while my efficient friend sat patiently waiting.
Day 1 leaving Penzance we were faffing attaching our bikepacking bags, getting our Garmins to lock onto GPS, load routes, fill water bottles etc etc. There was much pressure to not be "that guy" each morning after that. Also see: going for a pee at the lunch stop just as we about to set off, having been sitting around waiting to pay the bill
 

neil_merseyside

Veteran
Location
Wirral
You're having a laugh D&C are just so evil (via Southern route, St Austell and Rob's passage?) and yes both counties have some big hills so lumpy is a given, but every last one of those climbs hurts, BUT THEN the descent is down blind bends at best, or had those bends augmented with gravel SO YOU (maybe just I) NEVER got any payback, and then you had to climb back to a plateau - you get the idea...
Scotland is 'obviously' - erm only easy if you've survived D&Cornwall (more properly Cornwall & Devon) Try it the other way however?

I know I'm a wimp on hills but D&C is not easy for the vast amount of riders, who'll all be newbie cyclists and on a charity ride.
As they saying goes "if you can get to Bristol (from either direction) you'll finish".

(so says the bloke that did E2E in 4 stages over 3 yrs*)
* but most people only ever do LE to Bristol/maybe Ludlow at best, so no-one ever really does LE to JoG.
 
I can only echo @nickyboy about the preparation being critical. This was always Nick's trip and as such he did the lions share of the preparation, a MOUNTAIN of route planning, accommodation booking (and re-booking due to the covid postponements), and the majority of the meal arrangements. Nick's outlook on planning is a lot like mine so if I had been doing it, while there would have been differences, the level of detail and preparation would have been similar. My contribution was to offer guidance and support on bike preparation prior to the departure and then act as team mechanic during the trip and shadow Nick on the navigation front (another one of my strong points) to avoid any big unplanned detours.

The reward for such thorough planning is a trip that went like clockwork. It's a balancing act to avoid it turning into a regimented school trip and I think we got it just right with enough planning to know what we were doing and had to achieve each day while having the freedom to stop and take in the view when we encountered unexpected beauty spots/cafes etc.

After the trip all four team members commented on how smoothly things had gone and how enjoyable it had been not having to stress about the arrangements each day, only possible due to the work that had been put in in advance. There seem to be many LeJoG/JoGLe blogs/accounts/write-ups that include amazing feats of endurance and catastrophic misfortune. The tales of crippling physical discomfort/accidents/massive navigational errors/mechanical problems/food difficulties/accommodation struggles/etc that appear to be a common occurrence seems to be a world away from our experience. I'm sure these things can/do happen, but I also suspect that these are mostly only a problem if you let them happen. Most of the issues can be prepared for and avoided with a little thought and some basic emergency planning. I also think some of the incidents are exaggerated for effect by the people telling the tale! It would be a pretty dull blog if it just said 'We rode from one end to the other and our only problem was a single puncture between the four of us'?

I guess what I am trying to say is that you need to do a risk assessment prior to the trip. Think about what problems you might encounter, what the impact would be and can the issue be avoided or dealt with.
In the case of a puncture this is easy. If it were something more serious like a ride ending injury or a bike frame failing then prevention is preferable than trying to deal with it after the event.

Finally, be realistic. No use trying to ride 100 miles a day if you have just pulled your unused rusty old childhood bike out of the shed a couple of months before and decided to ride LeJoG.

You're having a laugh D&C are just so evil....
Scotland is 'obviously' - erm only easy if you've survived D&Cornwall (more properly Cornwall & Devon).....

I know I'm a wimp on hills but D&C is not easy for the vast amount of riders, who'll all be newbie cyclists and on a charity ride.
Cornwall and Devon are hilly, but not prohibitively so. As experienced Pennines riders we are reasonably used to hills so perhaps not as shocked by the C & D terrain as some, but also choice of route is a big thing. You can make it as hard as you like if that's your thing but it doesn't have to be. Nick found us a route that was pleasant, scenic and mostly quiet while avoiding the horrific A roads in the area. We enjoyed it.
Scotland again can be hard I guess but we found nearly all the climbing was so gradual as to be almost unnoticeable. Even climbing to the high point of the entire journey, The Pass of Drumochter, was an easy steady ascent.
I'm a bit sceptical of your suggestion that most LeJoG'rs are newbie charity riders?
 
OP
nickyboy

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
You're having a laugh D&C are just so evil (via Southern route, St Austell and Rob's passage?) and yes both counties have some big hills so lumpy is a given, but every last one of those climbs hurts, BUT THEN the descent is down blind bends at best, or had those bends augmented with gravel SO YOU (maybe just I) NEVER got any payback, and then you had to climb back to a plateau - you get the idea...
Scotland is 'obviously' - erm only easy if you've survived D&Cornwall (more properly Cornwall & Devon) Try it the other way however?

I know I'm a wimp on hills but D&C is not easy for the vast amount of riders, who'll all be newbie cyclists and on a charity ride.
As they saying goes "if you can get to Bristol (from either direction) you'll finish".

(so says the bloke that did E2E in 4 stages over 3 yrs*)
* but most people only ever do LE to Bristol/maybe Ludlow at best, so no-one ever really does LE to JoG.
I guess it's what you're used to. We went N via Padstow then through the middle of Devon and out to Somerset via Taunton

The stats speak for themselves. D2 was 80 miles with 5600ft climbing. We took it steady

I'm just suggesting an alternative narrative to "Cornwall and Devon are really really hard". We could have done them flatter but we would have missed Perranporth, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth etc which we thought were spectacular
 
To put it into perspective, our local rides often work out at 100ft of climbing per mile so it is not unusual to climb 4000-5000ft in a 40-50 mile ride and the climbing goes up relative to the distance. That's just life in the Pennines and we wouldn't have it any other way as the rides and views can be spectacular (plus it makes you super awesome fit so we appear to be unstoppable Gods when riding with flatlanders :laugh:).
 

mikeIow

Veteran
Location
Leicester
broadly agree….…..but I’d say Cornwall and Devon are absolute barstewards for leisure cyclists…mind you, my LEJoG (see here) was a little earlier in the year (after accommodation opened up mid-May), and I also hit 50mph gales and pouring rain for parts of it 🤪
Pals of mine (even more leisurely than me!) had warned me the first 3 days were tough…they weren’t wrong!
6,000ft climbing in one of those first days, in those conditions, made for a VERY wet start.

Then my crank snapped off on day 4 - try factoring that in! I drifted 7 miles mostly downhill to Radstock, where my hotel was next to a bike shop, & I got the bike to them at opening time….they got me going by 10am!
Lesson learned there was that people are kind: I had several messages offering help after my “f***ity f**k” Facebook post when it happened…one pal even picked up my old bike ready to drive down (2½ hr drive!) the next morning if the bike shop were unable to get me going.

I learned that having a Wahoo paired with a Garmin Varia was a brilliant decision of mine, and that cycle.travel really did pick some beautiful and quiet routes all the way for me.

I had various pals join me from day 4, which I really enjoyed…then a few solo days from Settle to Edinburgh (including camping…again, despite the extra weight of gear on that leg, I *loved* that!).
Once I reached Edinburgh, I joined my more leisurely pals for the final hop, which was a bit slow for me but okay (had to abandon them a couple of times just to stretch my legs).

On balance, I discovered I quite like my own company and the lack of stress of worrying about others!

I firmly agree with the final point: despite those challenges, I thoroughly enjoyed the lot!
 
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Location
London
sounds great - well done all.
Only comment I'd make (tho I haven't done lejog and won't be doing) is that pre-planning cafe stops possibly a bit excessive?
 
sounds great - well done all.
Only comment I'd make (tho I haven't done lejog and won't be doing) is that pre-planning cafe stops possibly a bit excessive?
Normally, perhaps. But in these Covid times (still VERY present when we were travelling) it was essential and even in normal times some parts of the route are very remote so knowing where to stop was still necessary or you could be stuck all day with nothing, not even corner shops or petrol stations!
 

PeteXXX

Cake or ice cream? The choice is endless ...
Location
Hamtun
Yes. Preparation is the key, I found. My LEJOG was a solo unsupported effort, roughly 2 nights camping, one B&B.
I was carrying too much stuff, I realised by day 3 so bought some bin bags and a roll of tape and used Collect + to send it home. I used C+ in Scotland after my final night under 'canvas'

After the 1st morning, I too worked out that I'd need to get more organised!! :laugh:
After that, I got all the stuff I could sorted in the evening.
All night stops were organised, but café stops were when I saw them if I needed food at the time. I always had food with me that I could cook on my stove, or just peel & eat.

Yes, people all along the way were friendly, with a few riding with me for a while as I plodded ever northwards.

I wish I hadn't left it until I was 66½ years old, but, hey ho. (I'm very glad I did it then as lockdowns kicked in!)

Well done @nickyboy and team 👍
 
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Location
London
Normally, perhaps. But in these Covid times (still VERY present when we were travelling) it was essential and even in normal times some parts of the route are very remote so knowing where to stop was still necessary or you could be stuck all day with nothing, not even corner shops or petrol stations!
Fair point on covid, but on the general point, hence my notorious espresso gear.
 

Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
The amount of detailed planning is down to individual preferences. No two group of riders will do nor want to do the same amount of detail in planning. Some are happy with an outline plan and route and take it and adapt as you go. Some need a detailed schedule. Each are equally valid and successful approaches. What people learn on the build up and during a LEJOG is what approach suits them.
 

Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
I think the World Wide Web has changed things for many as well. If you are not carrying a tent. You can carry a smartphone and book a place during each day once you get a feel for how you are going. If carrying a tent then often a pub garden or somewhere discrete after you've eaten and the sun has yet. A campsite if suitable. Works out just as well. Outside of tourist hot spots and weekends there’s always somewhere to stay. Being more mindful once in Scotland of reduced choices. But the whole thing doesn’t need planning in detail. Least that’s my preference as I like the flexibility
 
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