A Change of Plan..?

I may have just completely changed my mind about something.

I set this website up mostly because I wanted to record and publish my preparations for cycling Lejog (Land’s End – John O’Groats) in spring 2010. Ever since I started trying to work out my route, I’ve found that I really have no interest in cycling anywhere south of Manchester. I had a look last night to see how much the train will cost me to get from my house to Penzance, and the minimum amount is a whopping £105!! It strikes me as a little arse-about-face to pay that amount of money to travel south, only to spend about 5 days cycling north to get to where I started from. It’s not just illogical ( although I admit I’m not a great fan of logic), but the only function it serves would be able to say “yes, I have cycled the length of mainland UK”.

What if I was to do the same mileage (1000 miles), cycling from my house around a load of places I fancy visiting on a bike? It may not sound as impressive as cycling end-to-end, but miles are miles and it would give me so much more scope for a varied route off the path well-beaten by generations of End-to-Enders. Thinking about doing a non-traditional cycle challenge is bringing up all sorts of wacky and tempting ideas, such as riding about re-enacting scenes from Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’ in the places they were filmed, to going on a ‘mystery tour’ where my direction of travel each day is decided by chance, or staying in haunted sites or working my way between ancient stone circles….
When route-planning is thought of in this light, it makes doing Lejog seem a little, well…unimaginative.

So on the one hand I’m excited by the prospect of having a much more flexible route, but on the other I am concerned about not having completed this classic challenge. It seems to me that there is something in the psyche that rates travelling between two farthest points on a land mass higher than riding around a little more haphazardly. It’s all in the mind though, it’s just that it’s a little harder to visualise a route that doesn’t go from A to B but from C to B via X and P.

1000 mile cycle challenge does sound quite good though… I’ll have to think about this a little more before I decide not to complete Lejog. Damn difficult call to make though.

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Good morning, campers!

I think most people who cycle LEJOG choose to stay in B&B’s/travellodges/guesthouses. Myself, not being most people, I have

Room with a view

You don't get this at the Holiday Inn...

chosen the luxury of a foam mat and a tent, cooking my own food where possible and of course lugging all this heavy equipment around the country with me.

The primary reason for this seemingly bonkers decision is…money. I just can’t afford £20-30 per nightand living off Texaco sandwiches/pub lunches. Actually, I can’t face living off pre-packed sandwiches. Having the means to cook your own food is cheaper and healthier and much more flexible (porridge and coffee at 5am is luuuuuverly).

With the ‘staying in buildings’ option, I would most probably have to book in advance, and I don’t like the pressure of having to stick to a schedule no matter what. By camping, I can always stay in a B&B in an emergency (tent gets ripped up by marauding sheep, etc). I’ll still have to look up all the campsites en-route, but shouldn’t have to worry about booking a pitch, as I won’t be travelling in holiday season. I can stick to my own schedule pretty much and if I get woken at 4am and decide to set off at 6am, I won’t need to wake people up demanding breakfast.

I don’t plan on wild camping in Scotland (where it’s legal), as I don’t think I’ll be far enough into the wilds to be safe (what with cycling on roads, like). I certainly don’t plan on stealth camping in England, as my tent is bright blue and not really very…stealth-like. Not that I would *ever* dream of illegally camping…(don’t do it kids, farmers may shoot you).

My tent is pretty waterproof (Vango Tempest, with 5000mm HH) as was proven last May when I woke up to a river running underneath the groundsheet, a la an unplanned water-bed. It’s a 2-man, but that’s perfect for me and 4 panniers. It’s not lightweight (2.5kg), but was only £80, compared with £200 – 300 for something like a Hillberg Akto at 1kg.  I can cook in the porch area and I padlock my bike to a tent pole at night, if there are no fences nearby. This is not realistically a preventative measure against theft, more of an alarm system which would alert me to my bike being stolen by collapsing the tent on my head. Perhaps not the most elegant system, thinking about it. Probably should revise that…

Why this blog exists

A thought occured to me a few weeks ago…wow, fancy cycling Land’s End to John O’Groats; that would be crazy/immense/impossible/exciting/scary/dangerous/exhausting/all of the above.

Then the clincher; Well, if so many other people have done it, there’s no reason why I can’t!

And so the ball started rolling on what has inevitable become my next ‘project’. I believe the ball will keep rolling, in all directions and dimensions, gathering impetus and mass and occassionally stalling, until I have completed this challenge, all 1000 miles of it.

I’ve started this  blog up as way of recording my preparation for the trip.  I’ve been reading lots of other ‘End to End’ blogs and having found them informative, funny, touching and interesting I thought I might as well do one of my own.