LEJOG 1 (2005)

19-jun-le-start

LEJOG (2005)

In 2005 and 2006 I completed bike rides from Lands End to John O’Groats.  Below is an unedited account of the first trip in 2005, taken from my first blog site on the Tritalk website (plus a few choice photos).

Both trips involved different routes, as you will see from the map below (2005 =red).  In 2005 I took the more conventional route ; through the middle of England, over the peak district and dales and along the east coast of Scotland.  A total of 1085 miles in 13 days (12 days of cycling).  I cycled back down to Inverness afterwards to increase the tally to 1244 miles.

lejog-route-06

Both trips were done solo, although I did have a fair amount of help (accommodation and buddy-rides) along the way, particularly for the first (2005) trip.  Most of the time I would use camp sites, so I had two full panniers on the bike and a dome tent big enough to accommodate both myself and my bike.  I don’t know if I ever weighed the bike with gear on the back but suffice to say it was so heavy I had to zig-zag up some of the hills in the north of England and Scotland and warped the metal frame of a couple of alu wheels.  The 2005 LEJOG was all about completion.  The 2006 LEJOG was a whole new experience, taking in the Hebrides and going a more unconventional route using ferries (see map above).

A couple of the most liberating and adventurous experiences of my life and something I’ll probably never be able to do again.  They hardened me up mentally as well as physically.  Doing continuous c.100 miles/day over hills in the heat with camping gear on the back of the bike certainly works the legs, and I always say that these trips (along with the Pennine Way and C2C hikes) helped build my base fitness for Ironman and Ultra.  If you are reading this and thinking about doing the same – start planning!  I hope the following will help provide some reference.


LANDS END to JOHN OGROATS (1)
19 June – 2 July 2005


19 June (Penzance – Lands End – Plymouth) 98 miles (cumulative – 98 miles)
20 June (Plymouth – Charmouth) 85 miles (183)  camp
21 June (Charmouth – Bath) 72 miles (255)
22 June (Bath – Tenbury Wells) 89 miles (344)
REST 23 June
24 June (Tenbury Wells – Stoke) 74 miles (418)
25 June (Stoke – Holmfirth) 62 miles (480) 
26 June (Holmfirth – Grassington) 57 miles ( 537) camp
27 June (Grassington – Westgate) 79 miles (616) camp
28 June (Westgate – Selkirk) 95 miles (711)
29 June (Selkirk – Scone) 104 miles (815) camp
30 June (Scone – Newtonmore) 83 miles (898) camp
1 July (Newtonmore – Dornoch) 104 miles (1002) camp
2 July (Dornoch – John O’Groats) 83 miles (1085) camp

[+1] 3 July (John O’Groats – Dornoch) 84 miles (1169) camp
[+2] 4 July (Dornoch – Inverness) 75 miles (1244)
TRAIN 5 July

DAY 1 (SUN)

Had an great weekend. Fri was my Defra’s sports day. Did some T&F and got a few medals, trophy. Only trouble is I woke up the next day burnt, hung-over and with muscle pain. Spent sat in Milton Keynes watching Green Day. Got home on night bus and finished packing by 4am which wasn’t too clever. The first train to Penzance leaves at 9am from Paddington. Arrived in Penzance at 2:45pm and wasted no time in heading to Lands End. Another great day but the 10 miles were quite breezy over undulating hills. On arrival I wasted no time in taking a few pics and heading off to meet Simon/SJB about 40 miles further down the road. Got used to the extra bike weight on the way to Lands End but it took me the best part of the day to adapt to hill climbing as you can’t really angle the bike as much as normal out-the-saddle. Met Simon (SJR) at about 7pm, a little later than planned, on a stretch of the A30 next to Fraddo (which didn’t exist). Reached his house at 10pm after a few steep hills that I was starting to struggle with. A good average pace of 15-16mph, but we didn’t really have much choice seeing as we were limited on lighting. Had a chat about his own experience of LEJOG a few years previous over a huge plate of pasta.

Start cycling: 15:00
Finish cycling: 22:00
Distance covered: 98m
Conditions: Warm, breezy, undulating-hilly
Route: Penzance-(A30)-Lands End-Cambourne-Redruth-Bodmin-(A38)-Liskeard-Saltash-PLYMOUTH

DAY 2 (MON)

Drank about 10ltrs of liquid today, couldn’t stop! Took a lot of minor roads around the A38. It was while cycling through Ivybridge watching people going to work, children being taken to school that I had a moment of clarity and wondered why I was doing it. I blew my first puncture about 5 miles from Exeter. A nasty stretch of the A38 you cant really avoid. Decided to take to the small rocky path by the side of the road and ran over a sharp stone. Stopped at a cafe outside Exeter for a fry-up to make up for it. Borrowed a track pump from a shop in Exeter to get the psi up, and was off again heading towards the coastal towns. The A3052 was very scenic but also very hilly in parts, partic between Sidmouth and Lyme Regis. I thought Colyford hill was bad enough until I made the mistake of cycling right down into Lyme Regis and up out of it again. I say cycle, I had to get off and shuffle. Finally reached Charmouth around 7:30pm and set up camp. Was absolutely shattered but met some nice travelers there. Had a bag of fish n’ chips (well it was a coastal town!) and fell asleep very soon afterwards.
Didn’t realise just how cold it would get that night and was completely unprepared. It woke me up early in the morning. So I covered myself with anything I could get my hands on including one of those marathon finisher’s bacofoil sheets, which seemed to do the job! But I decided I’d have to buy a sleeping bag at some point before my next camping experience on Day 7 (Sun).

Start: 07:30
Finish: 19:30
Distance: 85m (Tot 183m)
Conditions: Hot, hilly
Route(ish): PLYMOUTH-(A38)-Ivybridge-South Brent-Buckfastleigh-Ashburton-Bovey Tracey-Chudleigh
-Kennford-(A379)-EXETER-(A3052)-Stowford-Lyme Regis-Charmouth

21-jun-charmouth-beach

Charmouth Beach

DAY 3 (TUES)

I took some really awful country roads to start with today. Got a little lost and ended up on top of a hill at Pilsdon Pen. The road that led up to it is the worst hill ever. Only about 200m long but very steep, narrow, and stony. I had to shuffle along in my cycle shoes. Towns of Broadwindsor was nice. Getting used to popping into local shops and chatting with the local people.
At some point after this I hit a pot-hole down a hill. The back wheel immediately started to scuff and I noticed a bulge in the wheel. Tri UK in Yeovil didn’t want to touch it for fear of making it worse, so I carried on but just used the front brake on anything but downhills. Went through the home of Glastonbury (Shepton Mallet) on the way to Bath, which is a beautiful town. Chatted with a local about the Glastonbury Festival. There were already people setting up camp. Met a friend (Matt) and his buds for few pints. Headed back to play a few rounds of poker with his flatmates before crashing out.

Start: 10:00
Finish: 19:00
Distance: 72m (Tot 255m)
Conditions: Hot, undulating
Route(ish): Charmouth-Shave Cross-Pilsdon Pen-Broadwindsor-(A3066, A30)-North Perrot-West Coker
-YEOVIL-Camel Hill-(A359)-Castle Carry-(A371)-Shepton Mallet-(A367)-Midsommer Norton-BATH

DAY 4 (WED)

I’ve decided that if I ever decide to leave the hustle and bustle of London it would be for either Bath or Bristol. Gorgeous towns. Bath is very clean, beautiful with a relaxed atmosphere. Got a bit lost in Bristol at first and ended up going over the hill at St Michaels which really killed my legs. The Severn Bridge was great to cycle over and had lunch in a cafe in Chepstow. I was looking at a long cycle ride after that to reach my folks in Tenbury Wells and time was running out. The only places I stopped for more than a few minutes after that were Tintern and Leominster. Tintern is one of the most gorgeous villages I’ve ever seen, very Lovecraftian. At Leominster gas station I had an evian moment. It was so hot and I was so tired that I just sat outside for 15mins half asleep, wasted, head bowed, pouring a 2ltr bottle of water slowly over my head. A tough day and I was suffering saddle sore quite a lot at this point. Spoke to Dan (martindj) around this point but he was just a bit too far away to meet up. Reached my parents house around 8pm, feeling emotions of both relief for having made it that day, pride for covering a third of the route and frustration at my bike for falling apart (just 2 miles from the house and my front wheel was also starting to scuff like the back one).

Start: 10:00
Finish: 20:00
Distance: 89m (Tot 344m)
Conditions: Very hot, undulating
Route: BATH-(A431)-BRISTOL-Westbury on Trym-Severn Bridge-Chepstow-(A466)-Monmouth-(A49)
-Hereford-Leominster-Brimfield-Brimfield-Tenbury Wells

THURS – REST DAY

Miserable weather today. Had the bike checked out at Climb on Bikes in Hereford. They couldn’t do anything for the bike and I wasn’t willing to pay £120 on a Bontrager wheel! Went to another smaller shop where they hammered the front wheel back into shape. It had started splitting by the join so I needed to keep an eye on it. The problem was that the rim of these wheels had been slowly ground down from 3 years of braking, and the weight on the bike was making the (thinned) metal contort in places. My dad bought me a decent light-weight sleeping bag for the rest of the trip.

DAY 5 (FRI)

Plan was to meet Andy (fatboyinlycra) at 10:30 this morning in Ludlow, followed by Ray at 2:30pm on the way to his house in Stoke. But plans were soon dashed when I noticed the front wheel was flat before I even started. Decided to pump it up and cycle on it to Ludlow (leisure centre) where I’d change it. Met Andy and, after changing the tube and doubling-up on rim tape we were already running late. The front wheel deteriorated over the next 30miles with the rim-join starting to peel out. After phoning Ray and several cycle shops in Telford we reached a small family-owned shop on the outskirts of Telford. The old couple who owned it were very helpful and the man was quick to point out that that front wheel was close to breaking point with the frame coming apart. Unfortunately the replacement wheel, despite being sturdy steel was not quick-release.
Had to say goodbye to Andy at this point. The last few miles from Telford to Stoke weren’t much fun. Heavy rain, cloudy and two more punctures meant I was starting to lose my patience. I finally made it to Ray’s house in Stoke around 7pm. Shame the three of us couldn’t get a ride together sorted. Got fed and had a good nights sleep.

Start: 10:15
Finish: 19:00
Distance: 74m (Tot 418m)
Conditions: Rain, flat
Route: Tenbury Wells-Brimfield-Ludlow-Craven Arms-Brockton-Much Wenlock-TELFORD-(A518)
-Newport-(A519)-Eccleshall-STOKE

DAY 6 (SAT)

Legs didn’t feel too bad today and no more saddle soreness. Quite looking forward to cycling through the Peak District. The first two challenging hills I came to were Upper Hulme and Axe Edge both located between Leek and Buxton and both extremely tough. Met Duncan (duncan74) in Buxton around 12:45 and within 5mins we were in a local cycling shop getting the rear wheel replaced for a new steel one. The bike was now a little heavier than before but at least I would be safe. Reached Duncan’s house in Glossop around 2:30pm having negotiated a few more painful hills. Had lunch and he fixed up the wheels and brakes of the bike, before I headed off for Holmfirth. The biggest and hardest hill was yet to come, Holm Moss. A climb of 700m to the Pennine ridge that left me gasping for air. Took about 30mins to get up it. The climate changes, as Duncan pointed out, were quite dramatic, from the damp and cold peaks to the warm breezes in the towns, valleys below. Finally reached Nick’s folks house in Wooldale, Holmfirth at just after 6pm. A good meal and a few pints in ‘last of the summer wine’ town before getting to sleep around 12:30am

Start: 09:00
Finish: 18:15
Distance: 62m (Tot 480m)
Conditions: Fine, very hilly
Route: STOKE-(A520)-Leek-(A53)-Buxton-(A6)-Chapel en le Frith-(A624)-Glossop-(A6024)-Holmfirth

DAY 7 (SUN)

Woke up at 9am to a full breakfast. Headed off an hour later taking the road to Slaithwaite which was quite bumpy but had some great views following on from the Peaks the previous day. I then tried taking some shortcuts and found myself struggling up a very steep, short hill. At the top of the hill I thought I’d take a break and use my mobile. I was literally just texting how pleased I was not to get another puncture when I heard a loud hiss. Following a bout of loud swearing I took a break and changed another tube. I think I had my first taste of Kendal mintcake this afternoon. Very tasty and a cheaper alternative to sports bars at 50p. Phoned up GNER and found out that all bike slots from Thurso/Wick to London from Sunday to Wednesday the following week have been booked up! Very frustrating. They claimed this was down to G8. Left me in a difficult position and I had to contact a few people to try and get some ideas.
Reached Skipton around 5pm, punishined myself further with a burger-king meal and headed in search of a campsite. The nearest seemed to be Skirethorns which was based near Grassington. Nice little campsite with crisp, clean air. After setting up camp I thought I’d try and run a few miles to see how it felt. I struggled for 1k before deciding to head back. Apart from this ‘experience’ I didn’t feel too bad.

Start: 10:15
Finish: 19:00
Distance: 57m (Tot 537m)
Conditions: Hot, very hilly
Route: Holmfirth-(B6107)-Slaithwaite-Pole Moor-Ripponden-Sowerby Bridge-Hebden Bridge-(A6033)-
Oxenhope-Keighley-Kildwick-(A629)-Skipton-(B6265)-Grassington-Skirethorns

26-jun-hebden-bridge

Hebden Bridge

DAY 8 (MON)

Very cold night. Struggled out at 7am and was back on the road around 8:30am. Stopped at Kettewell for a full English in the shadow of the Wharfdale hills. This was one of my favourite routes of the whole trip. The Yorkshire Dales, and particularly the route through Wharfedale, were absolutely stunning. Also the roads were very quick. Despite the route being a gradual climb all morning the light winds seemed to run up with me. Made for quite an exhilarating ride over bumpy roads and bridges. Outershaw Moss was a nasty climb but had an great view from the summit at 700m. Bought a load more Kendal Mintcake in Hawes (town of Wensleydale Cheese), and a liner and mini pillow for the sleeping bag. Took a diversion to Mallerstang Common at this point to take on a few more local hills including Aisgill and Outgill (around 800m/2600ft) on the way to Middleton in Teesdale. Had a chat with a couple doing the coast to coast bike ride here. Didn’t realise how late it was getting until we parted and I didn’t think I’d make the extra 25miles to Hexham in the heat. Therefore decided that if I couldn’t find anything in Stanhope I’d fly-camp. Luckily someone there new a local village (Westgate) where there was a very small plot of land for tents. Another puncture at this point but decided to ride with it for the 5 miles to the campsite. Picked a spot away from the river and trees but still got attacked by an army of midges. This was my first run-in with midges. I had an insect repellent but it was just not strong enough to keep them at bay, they were obviously a harder Geordie-strain! Not only was I eaten alive during the night but I had to sleep on my sides as I had burnt my back while stupidly cycling topless for a couple of hours. Uncomfortable nights sleep.

Start: 08:30
Finish: 18:30
Distance: 79m (Tot 616m)
Conditions: Hot, hilly
Route: Skirethornes-(B6160)-Kettewell-Buckden-Hawes-(A684)-Kirkby Stephen-(A685)-Church Brough
-(B6276)-Middleton in Teesdale-Stanhope-(A689)-Westgate

DAY 9 (TUES)

Got out of the tent this morning and was immediately engulfed in a cloud of midges. Worse thing was they followed me around the campsite so I had a strange halo while changing the puncture on my wheel. Annoying little things. Because I arrived late previous night I decided to rotate the damp washed clothing off the back of the bike. Seemed to work well.
Continued on to Hexham. Still many hills. Interesting to hear the accents change so radically between villages. Stanhope had quite a significant Geordie accent. But this soon disappeared when I reached Hexham. Stopped to refill my water bottles, buy lunch and head down to the train station. It was here that I finally managed to sort out the train back. We found a bike slot on a train from Inverness Tues morning (5 July). This lifted. Meant an extra couple of days cycling back after reaching John O’Groats but I saw this as an opportunity to see more of Scotland.
Continued through Bellingham and Wall (pinched a piece of Hadrian’s Wall) and on to Kielder Reservoir. This has to be the most beautiful route into Scotland, I really did enjoy it. Not only was the weather perfect, the roads were clear and flat and scenery amazing. The reservoir was obviously popular with tourists and had a number of boats racing across it.
Crossing the border was a bit of an anti-climax. A small welcome sign on miles of quiet, barren roads. They were also recently tarmac’d, wet from the heat so I was worried the bits of tar would cut and/or burn through the rubber of the wheels. Had to stop several times to brush them. Not a single car for the first 10 miles over the border. The villages on the map were nothing more than a cottage or two.
The road to Hawick had a couple of seriously painful hills. I’d been in contact with Paul McG around this point and knew if I could get to Selkirk I’d have a place to stay so I pushed really hard on the hills almost to breaking point once or twice. The heat was blistering and once I arrived in Hawick I downed 2 litres of water in one go, along with a large packet of peanuts (sodium) and jelly babies to give me that extra little kick. Was so glad to meet Paul by Selkirk church. By far the toughest day so far. My muscles were shot, I was sunburnt and had many itchy midge bites.

Start: 08:30
Finish: 20:00
Distance: 95m (Tot 711m)
Conditions: Very hot, very hilly
Route: Westgate-(B6295)-Hexham-(A6079)-Wall-(A68)-Bellingham-Kielder–SCOTLAND–Saughtree-
Bonchester Bridge-(A6088)-Hawick-(A7)-Selkirk

DAY 10 (WED)

Woke up at 8:30am feeling quite tired. Paul was to cycle with me to Edinburgh today via Peebles (where he works). The roads weren’t too bad apart from the occasional hill but I was having problems getting out of the saddle on the climbs. I’d put too much effort in the previous day and I was paying for it. We stopped in Peebles for coffee, visited the local cycling shop, and continued to Edinburgh. Miserable weather today. By the time we reached Edinburgh we were both soaked through. After leaving Paul in central Edinburgh I stopped off at a KFC and proceeded to follow Paul’s directions to the Forth Road Bridge. Headed on to Rosyth, Dunfermlin and more gradual hill climbs. One of these was an extremely long false-flat to Dunning. The damp smells coming from the forests were wonderful. Dunning was a quaint little village with a few shops, so took a quick break. On through Perth and a campsite about 2.5 miles north of the town, next to the Perth Race Track in Scone. All of my clothing was drenched so I was pleased to find laundry facilities at the campsite, as well as no midges!

Start: 09:30
Finish: 19:00
Distance: 104m (Tot 815m)
Conditions: Rain, undulating
Route: Selkirk-Peebles-(A703, A701, A702)-EDINBURGH-(A90)-Forth Road Bridge-Rosyth
-DUNFERMLINE-(A823)-Powmill-(B934)-Dunning-(B9112)-PERTH-Scone-Perth Race Track

29 Jun - Forth Road Bridge, Edinburgh.jpg

Forth Bridge, Edinburgh

DAY 11 (THURS)

The route taken today would take me through Tay Forest Park, up through Glen Garry, Atholl Forest and Glem Truim. Magnificent scenery all the way and thankfully the cycle route that runs parallel to the A9 all the way up was complete. Moving up into the Highlands was an amazing experience. A mist had developed during the morning which created quite an atmosphere. It would hang, and occasionally drop over the mountains as I cycled by the Lochs. The cycle route through Dunkeld was particularly nice. I stopped in Pitlochry for a heavy lunch before passing a place called Killiecrankie. Couldn’t help thinking ‘fandabidosi’. Had a nice chat with a couple on a tandem who were going at a sedentary pace while taking in the scenery up the A9. It was around this point that I slipped and my bike came crashing on top of me. Just a few cuts. Some sections were a bit too pebbly for thin wheels. The campsite I found just before Newtonmore was absolutely stunning, located at the base of the Grampian mountains. Cycled into town to get some food. Knees aching quite badly in the evening.

Start: 08:15
Finish: 19:00
Distance: 83m (Tot 898m)
Conditions: Fine, hilly
Route: Perth Race Track-PERTH-(A9)-Dunkeld-Pitlochry-Blair Athol-Newtonmore Campsite

DAY 12 (FRI)

Got up at 6:30am to find midges flying around both inside and outside the tent. It was a very humid night and I’d sweated quite a bit which would attracted them even more than normal. Stopped off at the ‘Happy Days’ Café in Newtonmore for coffee. What a place for an American diner! Continued on the A9 to Kingussie before slipping back onto the cycle route. Aviemore was quite a strange town. Because of its location in the middle of the Highlands with Glenmore Forest Park on one side and the Monadliath Monutains on the other, there were a large number of adventure shops. Bought an extra strong (DEET) insect repellent.
Continued on to Inverness and found a nice B&B (The Silverlee) beside the River Ness to book a room for Monday night. I’d read that rooms are hard to come by in Inverness but you can find a number of B&Bs down by the Ness. The bridges over the Moray Firth, Cromarty Firth and Dornoch Firth had absolutely stunning views. The road over Cromarty was quite long ,flat and very enjoyable to cycle along despite strong side winds coming in from the sea. The views around this part of Scotland were probably the best of the whole trip – beautiful clean, white beaches with a backdrop of light and dark green mountains.
The campsite at Dornoch was ideal, right on a beach and next to a pro golf course. No problems with midges this time but some strong winds. The seagulls were also very loud and shrill, particularly late at night and first thing in the morning. Had to ask for a couple of extra ropes, pegs to pin the tent down tonight as it was caving-in. My legs weren’t as sore today but itchy and swollen from midge bites, along with my lips. Had a nice walk down by the beach as the sun went down and almost fell asleep on the rocks, very therapeutic.

Start: 07:45
Finish: 19:30
Distance: 104m (Tot 1002m)
Conditions: Fine, windy, undulating
Route: Newtonmore campsite-(A9)-Kingussie-Aviemore-Tomatin-Moy-Balloch-INVERNESS-(A9)-Tore
-Alness-Tain-(A9)-Dornoch Beach Campsite

1-jul-bridge-over-cromarty-firth-nr-dingwall2

Cromarty Bridge

2-jul-dornoch-beach-nr-campsite

Camping beach at Dornoch

DAY 13 (SAT)

Woke up at 6am keen to get started on my last day to John O’Groats. Felt very tired and itchy. Thankfully the spray I bought was now keeping the midges at bay. Went down to the shore for a few minutes before cycling on to Skelbo by the coast. The hill down to Skelbo gave a great view of Loch Fleet, favourite spot of the whole trip. On to Golspie and Brora, where I found a nice little coffee shop. The rest of the route to Lybster was undulating with a couple of big climbs. The wind was strong but from behind. Only problem I had was when the road turned and I’d find the cross winds blowing me across the road. Some of these roads had sheer cliff faces, something I wasn’t looking forward to on the way back to Inverness.
Later on I cycled with a guy who was part of a 4-man relay team. He was going at quite a speed but seemed very impressed with the fact I was doing it alone, unassisted. Despite the sea view the roads started to become quite boring and I was glad to finally reach Wick. A strangely busy, bustling town considering it’s. Plenty of eyes turning my way as I cycled through. I’d have thought they’d be used to it here!
Just 17 miles to go, most of which were relatively flat. The wind was getting quite intense by now but still pushing me from behind. In the last few miles I passed a couple more cyclists and we had a few horns beeped at us from vans going in the opposite direction. No doubt other cyclists and maybe the relay team.
Finally reached John O’Groats at 5:15pm. Bit of an anticlimax as the place is pretty much just a hotel, car park and ferry service. But was so pleased to get there and have my picture taken by the landmark/post. The campsite was based on a grassy bank just a few metres from the beach. A couple of the caravaners said that a severe weather warning had been issued. The gales were very strong and if it wasn’t for the weight of myself, the bike, etc I really think my tent would have taken off. I lay in my tent feeling exhausted but satisfied. I had my ear phones on listening to Live8 and watching the tent around me shaking violently. Quite a strange experience. Put some ear plugs in and went to sleep.

Start: 07:45
Finish: 17:15
Distance: 83m (Tot 1085m)
Conditions: Fine, gales, very hilly
Route: Dornoch Beach Campsite-(A9)-Golspie-Brora-Helmsdale-Berriedale-Dunbeath-(A99)-Lybster
-Ulbster-Wick-John O’Groats


+1 (SUN)

Woke up at 6am to relentless winds. Took me twice as long to pack away the camping gear as normal. Today was the toughest day so far. The winds were so strong and directly in my face that I couldn’t pedal more than 5-6mph for the first hour. The 17miles to Wick took me two and a half hours. I was already quite tired and, having found the train station closed, decided to take a break in a harbour café. I decided against taking a taxi or bus and continue cycling as far as could. Struggled on through the various villages to Brora where I bought enough food to last the rest of the trip to Dornoch. Stopped to take a look at Dunrobin Castle which was magnificent. Based on a hill surrounded by trees and looking out over the sea. Bought dinner in Golspie and stopped to eat it at the Loch Fleet nature reserve which was also extremely beautiful. Cycled back along the side of Loch Fleet, trying to take it all in before I headed back inland again from Skelbo to Dornoch. Reached the campsite at 7:30pm after cycling just 84miles in 11:30! Very sore afterwards.

Start: 07:30
Finish: 19:30
Distance: 84m (Tot 1169m)
Conditions: Fine, gales, very hilly
Route: John O’Groats-Dunrobin Castle-Dornoch

+2 (MON)

Intended to ride around Loch Ness today but woke up a bit late and was on catch-up since then. Stopped at a Café in Alness for a long breakfast, then headed on through Dingwall, over Conon Bridge to Beauly. Not as windy today as cycling inland but became very hilly along the A833 to Drummadrochit. The last mile+ had a downhill gradient of 15%. Cycled on to Uruquhart Castle by Loch Ness. Surprised at how big Loch Ness was but was a little disappointed overall. Turned back onto the A82 and headed alongside Loch Ness to Inverness. Arrived at the B&B, changed, and took a look around town. This was the first time in 15 days that I’d been able to go for a walk without having my bike by my side. By this point I still had a lot of sunburn, swollen lips and pains in my legs and buttocks. Despite this I still felt like I had the energy to keep going.

Start: 08:15
Finish: 16:30
Distance: 75m (Tot 1244m)
Conditions: Fine, windy, undulating
Route: Dornoch-(A9)-Tain-Alness-(A862)-Dingwall-Conon Bridge-Beauly-(A833)-Drummadrochit-(A82)-
Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle-INVERNESS

4-jul-loch-ness2

Loch Ness

RECOVERY

I actually felt fine on the train home Tues morning, and cycled strong through central London traffic and on to Woolwich. Wednesday was also pretty much the same and felt quite energetic. Because of the London bombings I had Thursday and Friday off. My body must have realised it was finally time to rest because I couldn’t stay awake Thursday afternoon. Had to take an hour and a half sleep. The same happened on Friday. I woke up feeling fine but by early afternoon I had to crash. I never normally sleep during the day.
Only weighed myself on the Friday and found I’d lost about 7lbs, dropping from 12St/75.5kg to 11St-7/73kg. I was probably a little less than that on Tuesday, having pigged-out during the time between. I’d also been growing a beard for the whole trip. But this HAD to go on the Wednesday.
For the following weeks I have felt fine. The weight has remained the same and despite a few technical problems in the Ashford Triathlon two and a half weeks after finishing LEJOG, I felt like my bike strength had improved, particularly on the hills.

WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY?

Having spoken to a few people, including someone on the train back from Inverness, I think if I could do it again I’d cycle up the West Coast. Head from Perth to Fort William, Mallaig, then take a ferry to Skye, cycle up around the various Lochs and along the coast through Ullalpool and around to Thurso. The only item I should have taken with me from Day 1 was a decent insect repellent with DEET.

DISCUSSION THREADS   [1]  and  [2]

REASONS
§ See more of Britain
§ The Challenge
§ Improve cycling
§ Get cycle fit for IMUK

TOUGHEST HILLS
§ Holm Moss
§ Pole Moor
§ Oughtershaw Moss
§ Aisgill and Outgill

FAVOURITE PLACES
§ Kielder Reservoir
§ Wharfdale
§ Dornoch

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s