LEJOG – Day 14 – Altnaharra to John O Groats

Day 14 – Altnaharra to John O Groats – 82 miles (less 6 miles!)

And so we came to the final morning of our end to end route… After 13 days of 6.30 am starts, 13 days of fry-ups, 13 days of applying ointments to eradicate saddle sore (enough said), 13 days of early morning briefs conducted very professionally by Nick and 13 days of luxury packed lunches provided by Steve we were within distance of the finishing post…it was just about completing the final 76 miles of our LEJOG cycle route, easier said than done.

Due to staying in Altnaharra the previous evening, it meant a few of us had 6 miles less to complete so we took advantage of this by taking in a full Scottish fry-up. And so began the final morning ride in what was to be the only day that it rained throughout the end to end tour.

Leaving Altnaharra we meandered through the Scottish highlands and 20 miles later, we hit the coastline and were in sight of the Atlantic Ocean as we arrived into Bettyhill, a small seaside village where we stopped for an early lunch.

Atlantic Ocean comes into View

It was not long after breakfast so I took this opportunity to stock up on extra supplies of chocolate and sweets and into my pockets as they were sure to come in handy as the afternoon progressed.

Lunch at BettyhillBettyhill Lunch

We had not encountered any serious hills as yet, and Nick’s meticulous planning was not to let us (him?) down as we started to climb out of Bettyhill, following the coastline and onwards to the final destination, John O Groats.

Cue the rain..and wind..The Scottish weather unleashed all it could as we battled the headwinds and rain, it was as if all the foul weather had been saved up during the past 13 days and released in one swoop.

Nick the tour guide

Climbing a(nother) hill

The final 30 miles seemed to last forever and it was at this point it began to dawn on me what I had actually achieved and that the weeks of training, planning and eating a (relatively) healthy diet had paid off – Would I really be coming to the end of this end to end challenge?! Just to add to my strict dietary requirements, Chris, Mark and I stopped off in the town of Thurso and decided to sample the local fare of a deep fried mars bar from a local Fish ‘n’ Chip shop. Energy food at its best!

A mars a day....

A mars a day….

I would like to go on record to say that the deep fried Mars Bar was the reason those final 15 miles went past in a flash, the taste was delicious but I don’t think I’d opt for another for a while…although if Mars are looking for a sponsor – email address is available through this blog.

And then the holy grail was in sight, John O Groats.. Signposts began to populate the side of the roads and it was then that you were on auto-pilot. Before arriving at John O Groats, we all decided to re-group at the village of Mey, which was around 7 miles from the end. We planned to meet up at the local pub, the Castle Arms where, soaking wet through, cups of tea and coffee were the order of the day rather than a swift pint…

We then all re-grouped and for the final time onto the saddles, and as one, made the final cycle to John O Groats finish line – we had done it! Cue the champagne corks in the wind & rain and high fives all around…..LEJOG was done

At John O Groats!

Done it..

LEJOG 2011 Group

LEJOG 2011

Amazingly, I encountered zero punctures and even more amazingly, I didn’t even pump my tyres up over the course of the 14 days.

To anyone planning an end to end – Go for it, achieve a personal goal, you will not regret it. Hopefully this is the start of me achieving a few more goals and dreams and realising we all have the ability when you put your mind to it.

My journey raised money for Cancer Research and feel free to visit my sponsors page at: www.justgiving.com/swan-simon

The words of American General George Patton provide a nice summary to the cycle when he said: “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom” – It was a challenge, but I am so pleased I had the determination to achieve taking it day by day.

 I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my LEJOG Blog. I hope you’ve found it interesting and feel free to post your thoughts and comments. Once again, thank you for visiting Simon’s LEJOG blog

 

 



13 thoughts on “LEJOG – Day 14 – Altnaharra to John O Groats

  • hi,

    i really enjoyed reading your blog and am thinking of do the same as you have done (with peak tours too) in may 2012. reading your blog as made me want to do it even more haha…but ive never really cycled (only the odd bike ride, also i ride to work) i own a mountain bike.

    i was wondering if you have any tips for me training ect as i don’t have a clue.

    thanks

    matt

    • Hi Matt,

      Pleased you liked my blog – I would definitely recommend cycling LEJOG – it is a real sense of adventure and a real sense of achievement. Looking back on when I completed it 2 months ago, it still has not really sunk in that I managed to complete it…

      Peak Tours were fantastic and I would definitely recommend them. Apart from being friendly and there to support you each day, they dealt with everything from transporting your bags from place to place, preparing packed lunches, booking accomodation and sorting out any issues with your bike.

      They also cycle with you to make sure no one has problems. I met a fantastic group, there were 14 of us in total and we all got on really well.

      In terms of training, I only got my bike last September (Trek racing bike – much easier for the uphills!) and strated training in January so only really had 4 months of doing 120 miles a week – which you would easily be able to do

      Go for it, and feel free to get in touch again if you need any other pointers

      Simon

  • Simon

    Your account of LeJog has made a fascinating Boxing Day evening read. I started training for LeJog on Sep 4 after a cycle ride with my daughter – since then I have been building the miles but without professional advice. My biggest fear is that I will not be fit enough for the challenge – I am 56. I would also hate to be the permanent tail end charlie following a group of 20 mile an hour cyclists. Any comments you have on training or group composition/experience would be really helpful.

    Regards

    Richard (doubting my sanity!)

    • Hi Richard

      Pleased you enjoyed my LEJOG diary of events and thanks for reading it.

      Considering you are already beginning to cycle I think you will be fine. I bought my November 2010 and didn’t start to train until January 2011, I then completed LEJOG in April 2011 with http://www.peak-tours.co.uk 14 day cycle with 14 others – it was a fantastic experience and we all got on really well, we didn’t know each other before the ride.

      In terms of training, I started by doing 6 miles a day Mon-Fri and then at weekends began to fit in 60 miles. So after the first month, I was completing 80-90 miles a week, which I then continued to increase and before I commenced LEJOG in April 2011, I was completing 120-140 miles a week – if you can aim for that you will be fine. Take it from me, the hardest part is cycling Devon & Cornwall and this in itself continues to push you in terms of fitness.

      During LEJOG, we were averaging 75 miles a day and managing to do this in 7 hours so we’re roughly looking to do 11 or 12 miles an hour. It depends if you’re looking to really push yourself, but the tour with Peak Tours was over 14 days and this gave us a chance to view the UK as well as stick to National Cycle Networks, which meant we completed the tour doing 1050 miles approx. What type of bike do you have?

      Hope this helps and feel free to get in touch if you need any other details.

      Good luck!

      Simon

  • Great blog Simon, thanks, I really enjoyed reading it.

    I’ve just signed up with Peak Tours for the September 2012 LEJOG and was going to start the fitness / dietary training today until I realised there’s still some of the Christmas booze, chocolates etc. that “need” finishing off ( it would seem ungracious to those that had given them as gifts not to), so it looks like it’ll have to be January the 1st!

    I’m already looking forward to the challenge although your blog has brought home some of the reality/enormity of what I’ve (at the age of 58) decided to take on. However having completed the C2C and the Heartbeat and Herriot weekend rides, hopefully with plenty of training & determination I should make it.

    Best of luck with any future challenges you decided to take on & thanks again for this blog.

    Kind regards,

    David

  • Loved the blogs. I have recently signed up for the August lejog 2012 with Peak Tours and eveything I have been reading is helping me to know what I am in for -and I am really looking forward to the challenge. I live in Brisbane, Australia and wondered if you have many international cyclists doing Lejog?

    • Hi Sue,

      Thanks for reading my blog, hope you found it useful! When i completed LEJOG in 2011, we had 2 x Australians and a New Zealander also complete it with us so you’ll be fine, hope you enjoy it too

      Simon

      • Thanks Simon.

        I have now read days 1-3 in more detail and will be reading the other days over the next week. It is very useful and you have inspired me to keep a detailed diary for each day’s ride. I have ordered a DVD of lejog as well as can’t wait to see that.

        Thanks again.
        Sue

        • Hi Sue,
          Thanks for taking the time to reply and pleased you have (so far) enjoyed reading the diary. It’s a great challenge and encourage you to go for it also, you’ll be so pleased when you have accomplished it

          Good luck!

          Simon

  • Hi Simon

    Enjoyed reading your blog. I too have signed upwith Peak Tours for the September 2012 LEJOG. I am particularly interested in how you suitable you found your bike for the tour. Last August I purchased a Specialized Secteur racing bike, so very siimilar to your Trek. It currently has 700x25C tyres on and cannot fit larger than 28c. You comment on the Scottish Road sufaces and the info from Peak Tours recommends much wider tyres than I have on my bike. What did you use and if you were to do it again would you select something different?

    Regards

    Graham

    • Hi Graham

      Thanks for your post.

      My tyres were 286mm and manufactured by Continental called Gatorskin. I found these to be excellent for the whole of LEJOG and didn’t even suffer one puncture! The majority of the trip is on main roads and even through Scotland, although the road surface does become very uneven with a number of potholes as you cycle towards Glasgow

      Good luck and feel free to get in touch if you have any other questions

      Simon

  • Iwill be embarking on this adventure in September.Thinking about writing a book about the experience.I will be starting in john o Groats.is this the wrong way round.
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for posting and good luck with completing the alternative way, JOGLE! I have heard starting in John O Groats and ending at Lands End is a harder way so hope it goes well and look forward to hearing how you get on.

      Don’t forget to keep your energy levels up when you take on the famous undulations of Devon and Cornwall!

      Simon

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