Starting this weekend, Mike and Chums -a select group of Cheltenham cyclists – are embarking upon the fabled Land’s End to John O’Groats. It is on the wishlist for most cyclists, and at some point i intend to saddle up and embark on just such a voyage of discovery. However, intending to do something and actually doing it are separate things entirely. I envy them. The journey will undoubtedly be tough in places, but there is something amazing about riding the navigable length of a country, it offers the opportunity to see the physical and cultural shape of the UK. Mike and the chaps do serious miles, and certainly have been upping the tarmac-coverage in advance of this challenge. They do not shirk the hills either, and when your local hill is Birdlip, that’s impressive.
The End-to-End is affectionately known as the LEJOG, although on occasions people attempt a JOGLE. this is ill-advised on account of the prevailing winds. the distance by road is 874 miles and takes on average, between 9 and 16 days. it’s also similar in distance to the london-edinburgh-london audax route, which used to be a race. one of the club members did this a couple of years ago and, not content with the distance, added in the ride to the start and home again. from bristol.
here are some slightly terrifying facts about the LEJOG:
1. the record is 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds, set by Gethin Butler in 2001. his average speed was 20mph. for what it’s worth Gethin Butler gave up cycling and ran the london marathon this year in 2hr 33, coming 77th. it’s safe to say he’s a bit of a monster.
2. In July 1886 19 year old G.P.Mills rode a penny-farthing end to end in 5 days, 1 hour and 45 minutes, a record that still stands today for an ‘ordinary’. hmmm, 180 miles a day, perched atop a terrifying fixed-cartwheel.
3. it’s the length of 167808 routemaster buses, nose-to-tail.
4. the distance has been completed by a phantom fighter plane in 46 minutes 44 seconds.
5. it involves around 17000 metres of climbing. riding at an average speed of around 15mph for 13 days would use in the region of 100,000 calories, or 200 mars bars. one of the little chocolate treats every hour (day and night) should cover it.
6. the hardest bit is often seen as devon and cornwall – it’s at the beginning so a degree of acclimatisation is needed and recovery not quite optimal, and it’s hideously lumpy.
7. technically, it’s downhill going upwards – there is a net descent from Land’s End to John O’ Groats of around 500 metres.
i wish the intrepid rouleurs the best of luck on their jaunt; it will be amazing.