So if you’ve already decided to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats (or JOGLE if you prefer) you’ll now be wanting to find out as much as you can about the journey. In this article I’ll cover the best resources I’ve found for planning your ride including books, websites, online forums and blogs.
One of the best things about LEJOG is that there’s no ‘right’ way. As mentioned in my Why cycle LEJOG ? article you can cycle it on any kind of bike, take a week or a month, go the shortest route or instead, choose to visit friends and relatives the length and breadth of the country. One chap even chose to stay only at ‘Red Lion’ pubs along the way.
Whichever way you choose to travel, you’ll no doubt want some ideas and inspiration so you’ll have a better idea of what the options are and how others have done it.
Some of the questions you might be asking right now include:
- what route should I take ?
- how long will it take – overall and each day ?
- how busy will the roads be (and can I avoid busier roads) ?
- where should I stay ?
- how do I travel to the start and back from the finish ?
- what kind of bike do I need ?
- how much gear will I need to take ?
- should I do it supported or unsupported, with others or on my own ?
- what time of year should I plan to cycle LEJOG ?
- how fit do I need to be ?
- what kind of training do I need before the ride ?
- what should I eat and drink en route ?
There’s a lot to think about and plan but don’t worry, most people enjoy the planning (almost) as much as the ride itself. Just remember that it’s your trip and you should therefore do it your way.
In future articles I’ll be covering route planning, travel, accommodation, gear, training, health and food in more detail, but here I’ll focus on general sources of information and advice which should allow you to decide what kind of LEJOG trip you’d like to have.
You may want to treat these resources as general guides – sources that you can dip in and out of over the coming months. Some may not be appropriate to you but others will be directly relevant. I’ve found a wide variety of information available, not all of it up to date or best quality unfortunately, so I’m only including here the materials which I think are most useful. However, if you can recommend additional sources please let me know !
The Cicerone End to End Cycle Route guide by Nick Mitchell (1st Ed, 2012) describes a 14-day LEJOG route via Monmouth, Slaidburn, Keswick, Moffat, Glencoe, Inverness and the Crask Inn. It includes a short guide to trip planning, downloadable GPX route files, suggested accommodation and bike shops en route. Cicerone have a track record of producing high quality, useful guides and this one fits the mould, particularly if you’re following a similar route.
Simon Doughty’s (2nd Ed, 2012) The Long Distance Cyclists’ Handbook is a comprehensive and detailed resource for anyone taking on a big cycling challenge outwith their comfort zone. It’s especially good on choosing and setting up a bike, nutrition and hydration, and training plans – not surprising given the author is a former GB Cycling Team Manager.
When I was at the “just thinking about it” stage last year I read several books during a week’s holiday and wrote a blog post reviewing them. The first, Royston Wood’s Lands End to John O’Groats – Self-help Cycle Guide, is a book of two halves. The first half provides a very practical and helpful overview of how to plan the trip, how to devise a route, route mapping, training plans and nutrition, while the second half offers an account of his own six-day LEJOG cycle ride. I personally enjoyed the first half much more than the second, which confirmed that I definitely didn’t want to be on a schedule riding 150 miles each day ! He’s since gone on to write other books on the same subject and much of the ‘planning’ material appears on his website.
Mud, Sweat and Gears by Ellie Bennett isn’t a factual guide but a relaxed and in places, humorous, account of her laid-back 30-day LEJOG trip along the UK’s quieter byways. She and her cycling partner are not die-hard cycling fanatics but rather laid-back leisure cyclists with passion for real ale. It’s well written and an enjoyable read.
Also highly recommended and a real hoot from start to finish is Free Country: A penniless adventure the length of Britain by George Mahood. George and his friend, Ben, decided – as you do – that they would start the LEJOG trip without any clothes, or money or even bikes … What follows is a hugely entertaining and well-crafted story of the pair’s efforts to blag meals, accommodation, bikes and clothes the length of the country. Cycling is almost incidental in this extremely readable book.
Phil Cox’s Point North and Pedal is a very readable account of one man’s personal LEJOG journey through all of the highs and the lows. It gives a good sense of the practical aspects of the ride and is recommended.
Other inspirational books by cycling travel writers include Josie Dew’s The Wind in my Wheels, Tom Bruce’s Every Inch of the Way: My bike ride around the world, Andrew Sykes’ Crossing Europe on a Bike called Reggie and Mark Beaumont’s The Man who cycled the World.
It’s inevitable that fairly soon after you start searching the web for LEJOG information that you will stumble across Alan Pewsey’s website (note: this is the new, not the old site). Unfortunately, it’s a bit like the internet equivalent of a jumble sale – there are some very useful and interesting nuggets hidden among the amazing volume of ‘stuff’ but soon you lose the energy to keep rummaging through its pages.
Easier to navigate (at least I think so) is Cycle: End to End, a “definitive resource” which also includes the ‘BIG list’ of LEJOG journals inherited from the previous list of ‘Ultimate Links’.
Useful accommodation-related websites:
Beds for Cyclists – Cycle-friendly LEJOG accommodation options
The CTC Forum has a LEJOG section which is undoubtedly the most useful resource I have found. It’s full of practical advice, hints and tips from people who have done it, got the T-shirt as well as the final photo at the John O’Groats (or Land’s End) signpost. You’ll find links to people’s routes, advice on booking trains and accommodation and a whole host of answers to other questions that someone just like you has already asked.
There’s also a LEJOG section on the Cycle Chat Forum.
There are many, many more End-to-End blogs than you can shake a stick at. The best advice I can give is simply to dive in, see what you like and then use good blogs as jumping-off points for other resources.
There are a few stand-out sites that are worth starting at, though, including:
Crazy Guy on a Bike – the most comprehensive repository of global adventure cycling blogs out there, which also has a smallish LEJOG section.
The list of LEJOG journals on the Cycle: End to End website.
Alan Pewsey’s Ultimate List of LEJOG blogs and journals. See my comments above about this resembling a jumble sale of mixed quality: 250+ entries and counting !
Travelling Two – What Friedel and Andrew don’t know about cycle touring is probably not worth knowing. A great site – not specific to LEJOG but there’s loads of information that’s directly relevant.
This article forms part of my Online Guide to Cycling End-to-End:
- Why cycle LEJOG ?
- 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