1400 kilometres cycled, 12,534 metres of elevation gained, stunning views and countless chocolate (cough… energy) bars consumed. From the southern most point in England to the northern tip of Scotland, what a ride!
The infamous Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) cycle route is something that has sat in the back of my mind for a long while. Having known others that had successfully completed the journey, as well with a personal challenge there about due, it seemed an exciting way to see more of the UK’s beautiful countryside. And so, with very little planning, next-to-no training and not much more than an idea that continued to eventuate that little bit more each day as we etched our way north, my boyfriend and I cycled our way from the bottom to the top of the UK.
An adventure to say the least, and one full of memories at that! We took to the ride unsupported, in the sense that we carried our necessities on our backs for almost two weeks through all of the elements and inconsistencies of the UK’s weather, amongst the many other facets of the journey that go unseen. For example, researching and seeking accommodation each day, hours spent hand-washing and drying our kits by hairdryer most evenings and planning next day routes when all you want to do is sleep, ensuring we were on top of our breakfast/snack game. The list goes on. In saying this, through the many wonderful people that we met along the way, as well those at home, their kindness, hospitality, conversations, interest and encouragement in our journey made the trip all the more special. We absolutely felt the support as we pedalled, and pedalled some more for 11 days.
This entry comes a week after completing our journey, and with a little rest and recovery on our side, and memories fresh in our minds, it seems a good time to piece together some words and recount the adventure.
Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? On reflection, it’s easy to look back and think to yourself, ‘oh yeah, we did that’. We just cycled the length of Britain like it was any easy feat. It’s funny how the romance of an achievement overshadows the challenges that are often met along the way. For us, despite the weather being far from friendly for the majority of days, as well the occasion that my boyfriends bike resembled nothing short of a complete wreck in the midst of absolutely nowhere (more on that later), the ever-so timely punctures in Icelandic conditions, exuberantly priced last-minute accommodation (as you would expect of last-minuteness), bumpy roads and increasingly sore bodies; it’s the constant of being on the bike and closing in on the goal that makes you work hard each day. As well each others company, knowing you can eat 5 chocolate bars and that’s acceptable daily behaviour and the beautiful scenery of course. Foremost, through all the soggy clothes, saddle sores and patience required, the realisation of the task at hand, which seemed a ‘good idea at the time’, an enjoyment overrides. To reflect and know too well that it was nothing but leg power that carried us throughout, – that right there is pretty cool.