Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats is frequently cited as one of the world’s great cycle rides. It may not be as long the TransAmerica or the EuroVelo routes but the UK offers such a great variety of landscape that makes LEJOG such a popular and iconic route.
Of course, it has to be said that not everyone goes with the prevailing wind and cycles LEJOG from north to south. Many, particularly those living in southern England, prefer to go from John O’Groats to Land’s End (JOGLE) to provide that psychological boost that they’re “cycling home”.
But why cycle LEJOG (or JOGLE) ?
Thousands of people every year undertake the ride. For some, particularly experienced cyclists, it’s a ‘must do’ route; a journey that has to be completed at least once in any serious rider’s lifetime. For others, they may have signed up to a charity ride: a challenge that also has the added benefit of contributing to good causes. Others still may see it as a means of exploring the length and breadth of Britain; a way to get off the beaten track at a slower pace to really experience our country at close quarters.
As the crow flies it’s an 874 mile journey from the most southwesterly part of the mainland (Land’s End) to what is commonly accepted to be the most northerly point (John O’Groats). In fact, the most southerly point of the UK mainland is Lizard Point and the most northerly point, Duncansby Head, some two miles north of John O’Groats.
The beauty of LEJOG is that there’s no set route. Much enjoyment and satisfaction comes from planning and completing your own route: choosing what kinds of roads you want to cycle on; choosing how long you want to take for the journey; choosing where you want to sleep; and choosing those places you want to visit along the way. For as long as LEJOG remains a journey of infinite options it will be a challenge that appeals to individuals from around the world.
What’s the best way of travelling from Land’s End to John O’Groats ?
In this series of articles I’m going to be focusing on cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, the way my nephew and I are planning to do it in May 2015. But there are many other ways to do the journey.
While the cycling record (on a conventional bike) is 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds, set by Gethin Butler in 2001, most people complete the journey in 10 to 14 days.
Why am I cycling LEJOG ?
LEJOG wasn’t something I had necessarily planned to do but it quietly and quite suddenly crept up on me. I finished climbing the munros in 2013 (Scotland’s 282 3,000 foot-plus mountains) after 15 years and was looking for new challenges. Meanwhile, my nephew and partner had recently returned from a 15 month trip travelling and working their way around the world, and they were buzzing with UK-based ‘bucket list’ challenges they wanted to complete. Conversation took place … ideas were seeded … and grew … and before we knew it we’d agreed to cycle LEJOG together in 2015.
The appeal for me, I think, is partly around seeing the length and breath of Great Britain over a short period. Under my own steam. Driving it would bypass the most interesting bits and I don’t have time to walk it, but cycling it over 14 days gives just about the right balance of completing it in a manageable time and being able to appreciate the journey without it becoming an endurance test.
It’s also a challenge. I’ve only taken up cycling over the last year in any serious way so I’ve a lot to learn. My muscles are used to walking up mountains or running, but cycling gives a rather different workout that my body is just now getting used to. I’ll write a post or two about training for LEJOG, which is taking up quite a bit of my time at the moment.
Finally, given that cycling LEJOG is quite a significant event, we’re going to use it as a way to raise much-needed funds for charity. In this case, we’ve decided to raise money for the Maggie’s Centres who provide support and care for cancer sufferers. My sister-in-law (my nephew’s Mum) very sadly died of a vigorous form of breast cancer five years ago, but greatly appreciated the care she received from the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee. By the end of 2015 I will be the same age she was when she died (49) – far too young to leave this Earth – and so it’s a poignant age for me to complete this trip. We’re aiming to raise £1000 and so I do hope you will want to acknowledge our efforts by contributing to this valuable charity. You can donate via our JustGiving page here.
This article forms part of my Online Guide to Cycling End-to-End:
- Planning a LEJOG cycle ride
- Top 10 tips for planning an end-to-end cycle tour
- Route planning and route options
- What to take – Cycling gear
- What to take – Camping and other gear
- Accommodation options
- Getting into training
- Nutrition and hydration
- Getting to/from Land’s End and John O’Groats