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LEJOG – Training

A training schedule that never happened...

Essentially there was one goal; be prepared for cycling 14days, non stop, unsupported through all possible types of weather and then put the feet up.

This could not have been further from what actually happened. Nothing can prepare you for the mental climb and coping with this totally depends on your own characteristics. For me I am quite a determined individual and it still came as a shock, but obviously I overcame any issues along the way.

In terms of tips to succeed in cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats or the other way round, the best advice I can give is get out there and cycle. Cycle everywhere as often as possible. Open the curtains first thing; if its raining, go out. If its windy, go out. If its snowing, go out. If its boiling hot, go out. Take every opportunity there is to ride.

I don't think its about going to the gym for a work out or particular diet. I think its all about the bike miles and getting your legs and body used to the task in hand. If of course you hardly cycle or have not sat on a bike in years, then start off lightly and work your way to the top. You certainly cannot make excuses as to why you can't cycle that day etc.

We all have family and personal commitments and work, but merge your cycling into these; i.e. cycling to work or cycling to the family events.

Once you have built on the cycle fitness start to look at the sort of kit you shall be carrying and start carrying it on the long (weekend) rides. Build this weight up slowly as you don't want to cause an injury. The bonus of starting to introduce this can work not only for you, but also your bikes health e.g. are your wheels up to the challenge. I bought a brand new set more three weeks before leaving as my old ones gave up whilst training. The back wheel had two broken spokes for example.

Starting the LEJOG training as early as possible is by far my best advice. If you can start in the winter time even better. This way you can prepare the body and mind for the cold snaps, wind, rain and snow (if you are lucky enough to live somewhere where the snow gets too). In the 14 days we cycled, we had everything and at one point a sand storm - it came and went quickly though.

Before LEJOG though; I had a situation where I had ventured out for the weekend, took my cycling gear with me (no snow/winter clothes though) and headed to a friends - it was the middle of March. I knew it was likely to rain and there would also be sun - I packed accordingly. On the way home the following day though. I set off in the rain (mate had offered a lift home, but I declined). The ride was fine, okay it was wet, but I had travelled a good 40km and thought nothing of it. The weather took a down turn. Rain turned to sleet. Sleet turned to snow. Snow turned to freezing blizzard. As I approached the top of the hill the blizzard had become awful. Freezing on road signs, snow becoming inches thick in next to no time. I took the classic cyclists stance in an old, but still used, wooden bus shelter. This was fantastic as I was now out of the weather. Essentially I got caught out. I then called a taxi to get me home. I was freezing and had no winter clothes with me so I was not in a good shape and could not get warm.

This did teach me a massive lesson though. My panniers are absolutely perfect – read more – my waterproof clothes are pretty good too, but they are not very good if the ice age suddenly hits you. No gym will prepare your body or mind for this, so purchases were made and my mind prepared to battle against this again, if it happened.

Yes I called a taxi to get home, but this was not actually the LEJOG ride it was my training. Getting out on two wheels as much as you can in all weather conditions is a must. If your riding unsupported then fill your panniers and get going! Do Sportives. Do weekend rides. Cycle to a local National Park and back. Head off in different directions, one week head West another head East. The aim is to become cycle fit.

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