lejog

LEJOG – Journal

During the 14 days I made a decision to keep a journal that I would write in the mornings or evenings when I had the chance. Below are the day-by-day entries that were made.

Day 1: Land's End to Lostwithiel

2 hours of sun. All the rest rain, more rain. Vicious wind and endless relentless hills. Went through various thoughts and talked myself up and down some hills. St Austell was a very bad stretch. After the GPS went wrong and then as we arrived in St Austell it shut down - no battery. Morale went really low. Having to stare at a blank screen for about 12miles is soul destroying. Even the phone was on and off throughout the final climbs. We had a real tough moment where dad mentioned taxi several times. I threw positive comments at him, but if it had been another 2 or more miles we both would have been for it. We made it and the B&B was/is awesome - PERFECT accommodation and hosts. Thank you Alex & Val.

 

Day 2: Lostwithiel to Okehampton

Another day but with the weather being good to us. Wind going in the right direction and sun was out around the clouds. Today saw more relentless hills with some really vicious descents - my main hate with cycling are the descents in dangerous places. So we had two fords and some slippery surfaces around the Tamar Valley, but then we had some lovely rolling hill moments in the sun. The day had many groups cross our paths and just before Devon we had some lunch where the locals were superb in terms of helpfulness. Had many dogs of sorts, even one that was massively over weight. Arrived in Okehampton where I replaced rear brake pads - old ones were like paper they had become so worn. Still enjoying every minute.

 

Day 3: Okehampton to Street

Another day but with the weather being good to us. Wind going in the right direction and sun was out around the clouds. Today saw more relentless hills with some really vicious descents - my main hate with cycling are the descents in dangerous places. So we had two fords and some slippery surfaces around the Tamar Valley, but then we had some lovely rolling hill moments in the sun. The day had many groups cross our paths and just before Devon we had some lunch where the locals were superb in terms of helpfulness. Had many dogs of sorts, even one that was massively over weight. Arrived in Okehampton where I replaced rear brake pads - old ones were like paper they had become so worn. Still enjoying every minute.

 

Day 4: Street to Coleford

Perfect poached eggs. £10 donation. Dry but windy all the way to Cheddar. Wind direction in our favour! Dad had suspected broken axel. More rain whilst inside having lunch and bike being fixed by badassbikes.co.uk Crossed the Seven Bridge. More rain. More wind. Didn't make Welsh Bicknor. No where to stay arrived in Coleford and stayed in an awesome B&B. Last minute. Owners and chef perfect!

 

Day 5: Coleford to Clun

Rain all day "again". Pint of Banks' for Jonny's birthday. £20 donations (£10, £5 & £5). Amazing generosity from the local people of Clun. Awesome youth hostel and will definitely come back. Heaven. Log burning fire well stove. YHA employee fantastic. Always looks after her end to enders. Legend. Really busy on arrival too most people really wet. No shock to our system. Snoring. A guy got up and left the dorm and slept on the sofa downstairs. It was his first experience of hostelling perhaps his last?

 

Day 6: Clun to Frodsham

The storm has not reached us yet, although it has become cold. Well low pressure. £5 donation. B&B North East wind constant. Now have a tanned (wind burnt) face. The Red Bull – Stephen Wales LandLord. After arriving in Frodsham at a reasonable hour, we had headed to a local pub. Recommended by our B&B. It had stopped serving food. Again another place that isn't serving food that late?! So strange. The LandLord, AWESOME! quickly spoke to his chef and before we knew it food and bloody good food on the table. Needed! Stephen is a keen cyclist the pub helped raise thousands for two men cycling America (Dr's I think) www.wheel-4-wheels.com.

 

Day 7: Frodsham to Slaidburn

Scared. How bad is this weather going to be? Will dad get through okay? First time I have written pre ride and today does have a different feel to it. End of today 466miles+ nailed. 36minutes in dad's QR snapped and I ride 73miles alone. Weather was hell! Frozen wet hands. Feet numb. 7hrs 10mins cycle time. Left dad on the taxi called Lue to explain the situation. Hands and feet freezing! So, so cold. stopped at a pub for fish + chips, coffee, and ice cream dessert.
Stopped at a pub for coffee, but more so to dry and warm gloves had two coffees here.
Got massive muscle cramp in left quad about 10miles from YHA. Rain finally stopped as I could see base.

 

Day 8: Slaidburn to Keswick

Perfect weather! Essentially cycled around the lakes. Was absolutely glorious. A lot of climbing magnificent scenery great roads except for near Windermere. Changed rooms at the YHA. Probably a good thing.

 

Day 9: Keswick to Lockerbie

Totally reached Scotland! And totally didn't realise either. I thought dad was just pulling over for another drink stop. He never drank whilst riding and that was not an alcoholic thing it was water too. Last time we went out he ended up throwing his bottle into a bush and grabbing his bars – didn't see the descent he was on. Massive initial climbs to get to Carlisle, but good "flats" to Lockerbie. B&B awesome. It was very quiet, but that may have been time of year? Barman and lady were very welcoming and helpful. Still can't get over the helpfulness and wonderful people we keep meeting. shocked.

 

Day 10: Lockerbie to Stirling

Poverty! Stunning views first 75km. Memory card packed in! Well it is now full. 4851 calories burnt. Really run down areas and this was a real education. Stayed in Stirling SYHA which was absolutely brilliant - a dorm all to ourselves. Not for the first time.
Showed dad the light at an all you can eat £8.99 per person Chinese. Probably the best deal for a cyclist on a LEJOG ride, but not so great for their margins!? 83 miles total today. A farmer warned us of a road closure and it wasn’t just closed for cars apparently. Cyclists and walkers too. This caused an additional 2 maybe 3 miles, but could have been even more. Second half of the ride was a massive eye opener and education for me – poverty. Had lunch in a garden centre mac 'n' cheese. Fastest speed so far! Even though we had an 80+ mile ride.

 

Day 11: Stirling to Pitlochry

Breathtaking divine beautiful stunning unbelievable picturesque out of this world. A perfect cycle ride today.
2 cash donations £5 x2 Scottish notes. Crieff – must take Lucie here. Although the hills were plentiful they were rolling and great climbing hills.
Stirling to Pitlochry route would be highly recommended.
Birdhouse Bakery coffee shop – recommended!
Palmerston's coffee shop location for the two donations and some more wonderful homemade cake.
The Highlands of Scotland are to die for.

 

Day 12: Pitlochry to Carrbridge

68miles in snow, hale and a permanent NORTH wind. Stopped at Dalwhinnie for "lunch" Petrol station that was essentially "closed" Burger and Chips. Haribo. Mars bar. Mental torture today and it has thoroughly destroyed dad and I.
Red squirrel signs (did an illustration of a sign).
Stunning snow covered mountains. Bobbie and Lucie arrived today. Almost there two days! Really drained today, but not necessarily physically just mentally. Met a guy that has met up with friends and gone cycling and camping ever since he was 17 – I recon he was in his 30's. The same weekend every year apparently.
Also met a guy in his 20's planning on cycling the world, not to break a record just to cycle. He is currently touring UK to see his friends and family before leaving.

 

Day 13: Carrbridge to Helmsdale

Snow. Sleet. Rain. Cold. 87miles. 9.5hours. 7.5hours cycling 2hours break time. SYHA cold heating "not great" pushing the £1 donation day for Sunday.
Half pounder + chips for lunch. Saw a seal in the estuary as we crossed one of the many sea level roads. Sometimes it was clear. Sometimes it was blizzard like. Sometimes there was just gentle snow. Wishing that it was not over tomorrow. Although mentally this has been tough, longing for it to never end.
The location of Helmsdale SYHA seemed to move out of reach as we neared it.
Hostel is fairly full with cyclists. Mountain bikers end2enders. One group are taking it in turns to ride E2E - made me feel awesome doing it solo with dad. Some only cycled "about 30miles then got the van to pick us up". SHOCKED! Dad and I just kept / keep cycling.
The chesty cough I have thought I was getting on Thursday is really bad today/tonight. Tried not to mention anything to dad, but it’s kind of obvious now. Cold youth hostel NOT helping in the slightest. way below freezing tonight and no heating!

 

Day 14: Helmsdale to John O'Groats

Coldest nights sleep I think I have had and will ever have. Made worst by my chesty cough. Shortest day ever, but with two of the longest (I think) climbs of all the 14 days. 13% times 2 one about 4.5km in length the other 3.8km in length - must check the garmin when I get back. The run off tracks were vast for the down hill sections. Dread to think that a HGV would need to use one. We totally did it!? We have actually cycled unsupport the length of the UK! Incredible. Absolutely incredible. Dad even said its our last "guilt free" desert. I just saw any food as fuel. We have actually cycled from Lands End to get here! The North Sea along the A9 - Flat. Still. Calm. Nothing like what I've seen on the news weather forecasts. I want to ride this again. Absolutely euphoric. We arrived just as the photographer, the "official" one was packing up, but thankfully Lucie kept him there until we arrived. John O'Groats is an empty place. The day was so so clear and calm you could happily see the Orkney Islands. I had no idea they were so close. I cannot believe I have reached John O'Groats. I kept calling out to dad 15km, 10km, 5km but nothing prepares you for actaully making it. It felt like the longest day, but it was the second shortest. Through Wind. Rain. Snow. Sleet. Hale. Cold. Some Sun. Low times. High times. Just cannot believe this. So proud to have shared this with dad too. Just before bed dad said to me "thanks for helping me to achieve one of my life ambitions". That sums this whole challenge up. Bed is calling me.

 

© e2ecr.co.uk 2012
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