My LEJOG 2019 (as if there'll ever be another one..lol)

PeteXXX

Cake or ice cream? The choice is endless ...
Location
Hamtun
My LEJOG: Tuesday 28th May ~ 12th June, plus a few more days in Orkney.

Bike: Canyon CX Inflite 8

Tyres: Continental 4 seasons 32 mm: No punctures.

No mechanical issues, but I’d put a new chain & cassette on, plus re-cabled gears and brakes before departure.

Navigation: Wahoo Elemnt, planned via Ridewithgps, plus a Garmin Edge 705 running all the time to track the entire route on RWGPS

Tent: Vango Nevis 200

Total LEJOG: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/35908670

Soaked: half a dozen times, but the tent, and my waterproofs held out!

Few bad drivers, until the top of Scotland, where the tourists were out in force.

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I haven’t advertised the ride(s), as only MrsPete and No.1 daughter knew I was attempting the challenge, but a few here have gathered what I’ve been doing.
As I wasn’t certain I could do the day after day of long rides, solo and unsupported, I was slightly apprehensive of what I was heading into! Still, If I didn’t do it at 66 years of age, I’d stand less chance at 67, 68 etc.

So... Off I set, with MrsPete's blessing, and plans for the route, gleaned from the many helpful, and interesting, posts on this, and another forum. Thanks to all who unknowingly helped me on my mission!

My plan, which worked, was to get over half way, and a bit, before releasing the days on my Strava, and letting my daughter open a Virgin Giving page to raise a few ££ for Crohn’s disease, with which she suffers, and diabetes charities.
By this point, I knew I should be able to complete the ride, barring any misfortunes.

I booked some places in advance, knowing where I needed to be by certain days to finish the ride in my allotted time off work, which gave me targets to adhere to.

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Days ½ & 1: Tue & Wed,

Penzance Lands End to Penzance 25 miles 1,500’ climbing

https://www.strava.com/activities/2405891821

Penzance ~ St Teath 60 miles 4,300’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2406751679

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Note evening signpost, rather than the posher daytime version that they want to charge a tenner to be photographed in front of!


I collected a one-way car hire from Northampton in the morning, waved goodbye to the family and drove to Penzance, where the car had to be left on Wednesday morning. Once parked up, I rode to Lands End, and back, on my planned route, to Penzance, got a few hours snooze in the car before returning it to the car hire company, and setting of into the hilly lanes of Cornwall..

Blimey, they’ve got hills down there! I was hoping to ride onto St Michael’s Mount, but the tide was wrong, sadly.

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I used the Padstow to Rock ferry, for £4.00. First ferry of many, but not until Scotland. I stopped half way up the Rock hill for an ice cream. Lovely view over the old harbour, now a busy tourist destination. More hills, up and down all day. Quite tiring and often walked!

I reached my campsite in St Teath, near Tintagel by early evening, happy to know that the village shop was open until 20:00. Set up camp, and cooked myself some supper, pleased to be on my way.


Day 2: St Teath ~ Bridgwater 103 miles 5,900’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2409479458

Up quite early, cooking my porage and slicing a banana into it, brewing coffee and then setting of at 06:30, as I knew I had a long day, through Devon, (who have hills just as challenging as Cornwall!!) and onto flatter, but much busier, roads to Bridgwater for a Travelodge stopover.

Having realised already that I was carrying pointless stuff, I wrapped said pointless stuff in bin bags, taped them up, and used Collect+ in Holsworthy, to post them home for just over a fiver, and saving me 7 or 8 lbs of weight to carry. (Darned handy service, Collect+ !)


Day 3: Bridgwater ~ Hereford 105 miles 4,300’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2412094056

With another long day ahead, being consecutive century rides, something I’ve not done before, plus I was carrying panniers tent etc.

One pleasure along the way was the Strawberry Line that gave me quite a few flat miles.

I did find it tricky to follow the Sustrans route through Portishead Bristol and onto the Severn Bridge. Typical Sustrans signage, I suppose.. At one point in Bristol, through an old housing estate, I had one of the local lads wheelie past me up the hill.. lol

Still, after a tiring day, I was at my campsite just north of Hereford early enough to set up and start boiling the water for a coffee and accept the kind offer from the chaps in the camper van next door to pick up fish & chips from the village a couple of miles away as they were driving there. Nice, thought I.

Not counting miles, but this was ¼ of the way there.


Day 4: Saturday. Hereford ~ Whitchurch 75 miles 2,800’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2414373073

I’m getting more organised in the tent, making sure, in the evening, that everything is ready for action in the morning, hence a lot less phaffing around at stupid o’clock! Coffee, Porage Pot, banana and yoghurt for breakfast, and off by 07:15. With less miles planned today, I was’nt in too much of a hurry. Nice quiet lanes, with the occasional ‘A’ Road dash before quiet lanes again.

I was hoping for lunch in Shrewsbury, but it was so busy, with locals and visitors, that I decided to carry on after a bit of sight seeing, and grabber a lunch from a local Coop in a village. I was camping, again, near Whitchurch, but as I’d spoken to the owners, I knew the cafe there was open until 16:00, so just got enough provisions for breakfast on Sunday morning. (ie anything that can be made with boiling water, plus a banana & blueberries)

Lovely campsite, with a lake, sheep (Noisy fekkers..) and lots of very fit looking people ready to compete in the following days Ironman competition. They did ask if I was doing it :laugh:


Day 5: Sunday. Whitchurch ~ Lancaster 101 miles 3,000’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2414373073

So happy that I started early, at 05.45 having another century ride to complete, as the route was through Frodsham, Runcorn, where the Sustran signage did its worst, as usual, making it hard to find the way onto the old coat hanger bridge and onto Widness, St.Helens and the outskirts of Wigan. It was luck, rather than judgement that I was riding through on a Sunday. It would have been a different ride on a weekday with all the extra traffic around. Really busy area!

Still, by the afternoon, I was into the countryside once more, eventually finding and ice cream parlour just as it started raining, so stopped for an apple pie ice cream.

As I reached Lancaster, I was on 93 miles, so felt it rude to not make it a century, so diverted onto Morcombe seafront, in the drizzle before heading to my room in Lancaster. (I couldn’t stop so close to a ton ;)) I popped into the nearby 'spoons, for steak & chips.


Day 6: Lancaster ~ Carlisle 75 miles 4,000’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2420112177

Bit of a later start today, as I had less mileage to cover, and fancied a lie in. There’s a lot of decent bike paths around Lancaster and Morcombe, so it wa safe and easy to ride northwards out of town under the Lune aquaduct and up, up, up the hill to Kirby Lonsdale on undulating roads, busy at times, with several steep inclines.

Eventually, I had the choice of the planned route, or a more direct route over Shap via Tebay and Unthank. Deciding that Shap was a place to say I’d ridden, that was the way I went. Then, with an increasing wind, up to 35/40mph, fortunately a tail/sidewind I was glad to be nearing Carlisle for the night. I did wander around the town in the evening looking for a bit of Hadrian’s Wall, but, apparently, the nearest bit is 12 miles away. Ho hum. I did see the castle, though!

Half way there! :cheers:

Day 7: Carlisle ~ Kilmarnock 104 miles 4,000’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2423572329

Another long day, with no clear destination, camping or room. And the most boring miles of the journey! Once out of Carlisle, and adding unnecessary miles by following Sustran suggestions, I reached Gretna, and SCOTLAND woohoooo..

After this, I got onto the old A74, now superceded by the M74. (I used to drive HGV’s up the old A74, and would certainly not have survived riding a bike up it!! No way, no how!) Anyway, there’s a bike lane, neglected since it was first painted on, all the way to Lesmahagow. I’d pondered many routes to take on this leg, and didn’t fancy the A71, or the longer Dumfries route, so was happy to add safer miles via the boring roads.

I did, however, take a moment to visit the memorial gardens, in Lockerbie, for those that died on the ground. It’s a very serene place, lovingly maintained, by whom I know not. Well worth staying a while, though.

Carrying on further up the A74, I spotted a tea bar in a van beside the road. Wishing to relieve the boredom of 60+ miles of old A road, I stopped for a cuppa and a chat. The lady got to talking about midgies, saying that they were out early this year. I said I had some repellent spray.. (typing in a Scottish accent, she told me) Och! That just gives the wee shites something else ta eat!! lol lol

I did meet another chap out on his bike, stopped for a chat, as you do, and he decided to slow his pace, go off his route,, and ride with me for 10 miles or so. Nice to have company for a while, I must admit.

By the weather forecast, I’d expected to get wet from 13:00 onwards. Happily, it was wrong. I turned west at Lesmahagow, and was within an hour of Kilmarnock, before it chucked it down. Quite happy with that, as I’d decided to push on from camping near Crawford, to a room in Kilmarnock where I could dry out.

Worth the effort of another pushing on to another century ride!


Day 8: Kilmarnock ~ Kilmartin 101 miles 3,000’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2426818529

I can’t claim a century for today as about 20 miles were on ferries.

Once again, no great need for an early start, so a leisurely breakfast, then to find a way to ride the 15 miles to the port in Ardossan. It took me 25 miles! Still, I had an idea of the times of the ferries to Arran, and made it on time without to much time wasted.

On disembarking, I met another cyclist heading across the island towards Islay. We ended up riding together to Lochranza, and onto the ferry to Craignure and then several miles to where his ferry was heading for Islay, and the friends he’d planned to meet.

I carried on towards Oban, hoping to get there a day ahead of schedule. Bad weather and tiredness made me stop and wild camp 30 miles, then 25 miles short of Oban (The first place I chose to stop was too bug infested, so I pressed on) I was getting really tired by this point, but found a nice quiet field to pitch my tent. Midgies galore, But I had my midge net over my head, so wasn’t too bitten. A quick meal of macaroni cheese, heated up in the rain as I pitched my tent. Restless night, for some reason.

As the road to Oban is not a nice one to ride in daytime, I was planning to be up with the lark, and midgies. Happily, the rain stopped by the time I was packing up my tent, which always makes life easier..


Day 9: Kilmartin ~ Oban 17 miles https://www.strava.com/activities/2427486830

Up, as planned at 03:45, riding by 04:15 and into Oban by 07:00 ish. I popped the bike into the Scottish Hostel, got changed into normal clothes, and had a day wandering around the town, even taking a boat out to watch the seals blubbering about on the nearby rocks, then booking the next days ferry crossings. With a leisure day planned, I even had time to re-pack the panniers properly and dry out the tent and wash some clothes before a proper evening meal..! Luxury.


Day 10: Craignure ~ Tobermory 21 miles 1,000’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2427486830

With my 2nd leisure day planned, I caught the ferry to Craignure, on the Isle of Mull, and rode the 21 miles to Tobermoray, where Balamory was filmed, and arrived at the Scottish Hostel right on the seafront (on the old filmset) and parked my bike up, got changed, as in Oban, and wandered around the town for the day dressed normally. As I had plenty of time I also went for a boat trip to see the seals on an offshore islet.

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Once back to book into the Hostel, to book in at 17:00, I was informed that my booking was for the following night, and they were fully booked. Due to an admin error, (plus me not checking the date when I received confirmation) the date had pinged forward a day when I’d booked breakfast at Lochranza on the same morning. Luckily, a lady standing next to me said she’d seen a vacancy sign a few hundred yards down the road, so I trotted off there and got a room. I was refunded my ££ from the Hostel luckily, and they allowed me to leave my bike there in relative safety. It was actually cheaper than the Hostel, as it happens! After a nice sunny day, it got drizzly in the evening as I wandered around looking for food. All the restaurants were fully booked, so ended up with a gourmet (?) meal including pasta with added ham, raspberries and cream with oat biscuit crumbs, and fresh orange juice from the local Coop


Saturday Day 11: Gilchoan ~ Fort William 59 miles 2,800’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2433318742

Up fairly early to catch the first ferry at 07:20 from Mull to Gilchoan, on the mainland, to ride to Fort William. There was a bunch of riders that I’d been talking to at the Hostel and on the ferry, who’d been on a three day ride, and were on their way to meet the rest of the team who’d been camping nearby. They, obviously, zoomed off ahead on the first incline, as I was still fully freighted at this point. The roads were narrow, undulating with a couple of steep climbs to conquer, but lovely and quiet. I was planning on catching the Camusnagaul ferry across to Fort William, but as it departed at 11:30, I wouldn’t have made it in time, so crossed on the Corran ferry and rode along the A82. It wasn’t as bad as I’d expected, and I got to my campsite under Ben Nevis at 14:00 ish. I was going to bus into town, but the weather was looking decidedly ominous, so I stuck with batting the midgies away, and taking a brisk stroll by the river to stretch out a bit. Later in the day, the mother and father of all thunderstorms broke directly over the site! Jeez.. I’ve been out in some storms, but this one took the biscuit! Sadly, a woman out walking with a group of friends was struck by lightning, and killed nearby.

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That's Ben Nevis, under the storm clouds!
My tent held out, and I remained dry, but it was not easy to sleep with the rain hammering on the tent!


Sunday Day 12: Fort William ~ Strathpeffer 83 miles 3,280’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2437301792

Today turned out to be my Wall Day. Anticipating just over 50 miles, my mind relaxed a bit, I think.

The route was not as easy as I thought it would be, initially along the Caladonian canal, then a lumpy, stony forest track to Fort Augustus. As I didn’t realise what was ahead, I didn’t fuel up properly, so suffered as I turned to the east route to Inverness along General Wade’s Military Road, rather than the shorter, but dodgy and busy Sunday tourist traffic on the A82. By the time I thought I’d be nearing my campsite, I was still nearly 30 miles away. My mind got to telling me bad things at this point, especially as the forecast was for more rain later when I was hoping to be camped and fed.

Eventually, I reached the outskirts of Inverness, met a lass out for a ride, and stopped for a chat, and the best way to get towards Strathpeffer, my destination. She pointed me in the right direction, but once through Inverness, and over the bridge, I was confronted by a nasty choice of A roads. One of which was the A9 racetrack, and t’other one wasn’t much nicer.. Tired, and getting hungry, with rain starting, I was glad to see a mountain biker heading towards me as I donned my waterproofs. I flagged him down, explained my dilemna, and he directed me to a tiny tarmaced road along the waterfront that I’d never have found on my own, that headed straight to my destination. Even in the pouring rain I was beginning to feel better, especially as there was a shop or two to top up supplies. I got to the campsite, set up camp in the rain, then found a dry place to cook dinner and drink a couple of hot coffee’s as my kit dried out, for £3, in the campsite laundry room. Not quite so many midgies, but still darned enough to be annoying. I don’t know how anyone would want to go on a camping holiday in the area, to be honest. They’re such a pain!

As this was my last night planned under canvas, I sat in the tent in the evening, deciding what I didn’t need, including tent, sleeping bag and foam roll, and got it ready, in the dry bags, to send home via good old Collect+. I even booked and paid the £6.50 for the package as I sat in the tent! All I had to do in the morning was roll it all together, tape it up in bin bags, and drop it off at a shop in Dingwall, lightening my load by several kilo..

My hardest day was over! Wall conquered. I thought that if I could get through today, I was capable of the rest of what the ride could throw at me.


Day 13: Strathpeffer ~ Altnaharra 68 miles 3,130’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2439258044

Once I’d packed the tent, bag and roll, plus the rest of the stuff I’d not be needing, into the dry bags ready to send home, I set off for Dingwall. I did keep one dry bay to put my waterproofs in, for easy access, and strapped it to the top of the rack. An hour later, and several kilo lighter, I was heading north, in a great state of mind, eventually.past the Crask Inn, to Altnaharra, for a lovely B&B stop. Not cheap, but really good food and home comforts after a heavy couple of days. I didn’t go anywhere in the evening, just slobbed out in my room, anticipating the following days ride, that was forecast as drizzle and a strong headwind. Oh well, I was feeling good.

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Checking my days, I totted the mileage up and was on 999 miles!


Day 14: Altmaharra ~ Melvich 43 miles 3,000’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2441729804

Breakfast at 08:00, bike re-panniered and taken out of the shed where the kind folk had locked it up in for me, I set off in full waterproofs, into the wet northerly winds, towards Tongue. I could have saved a couple of miles by aiming directly for Bettyhill, but had been told how nice Tongue is. It was only 16 miles away, anyway! After passing Tongue, I stopped at a smashing little cafe in Bettyhill for coffee and a steak slice. Refuelled, I didn’t have that far to go, but the North500 road is not a pleasure to ride! After all the narrow roads, with numerous passing places that everyone used nicely, I was into the pig ignorant territory of camper vans, caravans and sports cars vying for position. The closest passes, strangely, were by Dutch plated vehicles… Anyway, I survived to my destination at Melvich, where I’d booked a Pod for the night. Unfortunately, It came with a kettle, mugs, coffee a & teabags, but NO bedding… Having sent my sleeping bag home, I explained to the people that I’d need some bedding to use, and the promised to find me a sleeping bag, or summat. As I called into the bar for some dinner, the lady had got me two sleeping bags and a blanket. Happy days.

Early night, excited to be so close to finishing!



Day 15: Melvich ~ John O'Groats 37 miles 1,500’ climbing https://www.strava.com/activities/2444231140

With strong winds forecast, I was up early to complete the trip before 09:00, as my ferry to Orkney sailed at 10:30. With a relatively reasonable route of 37 miles, along the North500, my least favourite road to ride, I was well rested, fresh and raring to go.

By 09:00, I was there! Hardly anyone else had turned up yet, so I was able to get some pics at the JOG signpost, write a couple of postcards and grab a coffee, where the chap said I could write up my experiences of LEJOG in a ledger he was keeping. My hands were so cold that I had to wait a while before I could start! It was 7c. Great temps for June, so much so, that I bought myself a wooly hat.

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Still, I’d done it. 1,100 miles ….

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After wandering around for a while, my ferry was due to depart for the Orkney Isles, where I rode, into an even stronger headwind, for 21 miles, via the Churchill Barriers by the entrances to Scapa Flow, to Kirkwall for a few nights R&R in the Scottish Hostel, there.
Nice wander around the town in the afternoon, treating myself to haddock and chips from the Chinese Chippy.

John O'Groats ~ Kirkwall 21 https://www.strava.com/activities/2444196403

The following day, I set off for a ride round the mainland, plus a ferry over to Roundsay for a circuit of the island. The headwind home from Bursey Isle back to Kirkwall was horrendous! I’l never complain about Northampton winds again!!

Orkney76 https://www.strava.com/activities/2449693393

After this jaunt, I was back to the Hostel to pack up my stuff, cook a farewell meal, and prepare a few bits for my journey home. I set sail for Aberdeen at 23:45, and arrived at 07:00. Breakfast on the boat, disembarking at 09:15, and heading half a mile to the railway station to make sure my tickets popped out of the machine correctly (I didn’t want a last minute problem just as the train was waiting to leave at 14:42)
As I really didn’t fancy sitting in the station for half a day, I popped out for a 10 mile ride around the city.

With a 6 hour train journey ahead, I’d swapped a book at the Hostel, and settled down on the journey. I’d bought drinks & food, and snaffled a bacon and sausage sarnie from the buffet breakfast on the boat. Well, it did say ‘All you can eat’ breakfast.. :whistle:

The train was on time until Doncaster, where signal issues stopped the train for a while. (41 minutes late, to be exact, so I’ve got half my fare back.) I messaged my daughter, who was picking me up that I would be a bit late.

When the train pulled into Peterborough, just before 22:00, I disentangled my bike form all the suitcases that had been piled into the guards van and was walking over the footbridge, when I was greeted by the sound of running feet, and shouts of GRANDAD!!! They’d seen me on the platform as the train was leaving. The sight of grandaughter, in Harry Potter dressing gown, and grandson in his PJ,s complete with dinosaur slippers and a cuddly toy, running up the ramp to greet me was wonderful!
hey then presented me with a LEJOG medal, and lots of hugs.

Perfect.


Total LEJOG: View: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/35908670



I didn't do this specifically as a charity ride, but my daughter wanted to raise a few ££ for Crohn's, with which she suffers, and diabetes charities. There's a link ~HERE~ if anyone would like to add a few quid.
 
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biggs682

Smile a mile bike provider
Location
Northamptonshire
@PeteXXX that sounds and looks epic so well done and happy to donate
We need another ride soon
 

Broadside

Guru
Location
Fleet, Hants
Well you must be a natural at it, you made the whole thing including camping sound easy. I love cycling and camping but have yet to mix the two on a tour, your write has sparked the imagination...!
 

Bobby Mhor

Wasn't born to follow
Location
Behind You
Thank you. T'was fun. Hard, but fun!
I 'suffered' that hill out of Fort Augustus last year....
it would have been only one of many for you...
 
OP
PeteXXX

PeteXXX

Cake or ice cream? The choice is endless ...
Location
Hamtun
Well you must be a natural at it, you made the whole thing including camping sound easy. I love cycling and camping but have yet to mix the two on a tour, your write has sparked the imagination...!
I do a fair bit of cycling, but haven't been camping for years! It took a few nights to remember the tricks.. Lol
 
OP
PeteXXX

PeteXXX

Cake or ice cream? The choice is endless ...
Location
Hamtun
@YukonBoy I caught the ferry to Orkney, then, after a few days, booked the 23.45 ferry from Kirkwall to Aberdeen, arriving 07.00.
I paid for a Pod, and breakfast as it wasn't a bad price.
You can stay on the boat until 09.30, but have to take the bike off, lock it up, and walk back on. I did this with another couple of cyclists, so our bikes were locked up together.
I can't remember how much the ferry was, but well worth the outlay, arriving in Aberdeen rested (sort of!) and fed, and ready for the day.
If you have a sleeping bag, lots of folk just kip on the floors in the lounges,and save the cost of the Pod.
 
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