LEJOG Interview – Royston Wood

I caught up with Royston Wood, a seasoned cyclist of the famous LEJOG route who has completed the end 2 end a number of times and has also found the time to publish a book on his cycling expeditions across the UK which can be found here: http://www.landsend-to-johnogroats.co.uk/purchase-a-book

Royston also wrote a book about his experiences riding the test route:  Lands End to John O’Groats – Cycling the Google Route and the finalised route is now available as a series of gpx downloads with an accompanying book of maps, accommodation lists and brief route description etc.:  Lands End to John O’Groats – End to End Cycle Route – A safer Way.  Both books are available from the website  (http://www.landsend-to-johnogroats.co.uk/purchase-a-book) as  a pdf and from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle.

Cover - Front with handlebars amended

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what better way to ask the author himself on some key questions….

What was your first bike and how old were you?

My first bike was a tiny thing with stabilisers when I was about 3.  After that I didn’t have a bike until I was 13 when I bought a racing bike.  It was a bit of a job to learn to ride it at that age – you think more about the pain of the crashes:)  My mum wouldn’t let me on the road until I had passed my Cycling Proficiency Test so I had to go along to the lessons with all the 5-7 year olds.  It didn’t do my street cred much good.

 

 

How did you get into cycling?

After writing off my racing bike when I was about 16 I didn’t cycle again for many year, when I started commuting to work on a bike.  This gradually grew into weekend cycles, starting at a few miles and building to about 40.  Then my wife (yes although she will never admit it, it is all her fault) entered me into the very first Dartmoor Classic: a 100 mile ride over Dartmoor (a few times).  Thus was a major step and involved a lot of training, slowly building up the miles.

Day 3 - St Marys Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was about eight years ago, just before I turned 40.  Since then I have ridden many 100 + mile rides.  I used to keep count but have given up now.  I would guess in the last 8 years I have ridden about 80-100 such rides.  The longest in a single session have been 610km or just under 400 miles.  these were Audax rides were you have a maximum of 40 hours to complete the ride.  The first time I used the whole 40 hours without any sleep.  I was very tired at the end:)

 

Day 1 - St Michaels Mount causeway 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

When did you complete LEJOG?

My first end to end was actually JOGLE.  That is the ride the website is based on and I completed it in 2009.  Since then I have ridden LEJOG twice, once in 2013 and again in 2014.  The last two rides were an effort to produce a ‘safer’ route for end to end.
How much LEJOG training did you do?

For my JOGLE in 2009 I did a lot of training, about 5,000 miles in total!  The planning is on my website here. For first LEJOG in 2013 I trained quite differently.  I had actually trained for a ride from London to Edinburgh and back to London (Audax LEL 2013).

My training was commuting to work (11 miles each way) 3 days a week and an Audax Super Randonneur series of ride (one each of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km).  I could not complete the LEL becasue 10 days before the ride I was knocked from my bike by an articulated lorry.  I was very lucky but my knee was damaged too much to finish the ride.  I tried but only got through 500 miles.  So I suppose that 500 miles was also training.

For my LEJOG training in June I hardly did anything.  I had my base commuting and did a couple of 100+ mile ride just before the ride to boost my confidence.  Otherwise I was relying on my fitness surviving enough from the training and ride the year before.

Day 7 - Ruthven Barracks

 

 

 

Any recommendations for LEJOG training for the novice cyclist?

Follow a plan like the one on my website.  Something that will build up the miles slowly, about 10% increase each week.  Aim to be completing a ride the same distance as your longest day and then going out the next day and doing one at least half the same distance at the peak of training. You shouldn’t do any training for a week or so before the ride.  By that stage you need to build your energy reserves, not your fitness.
What was your chosen LEJOG route?

My first route was JOGLE.  It was nearly all on main roads.  I was trying to complete the ride in 6 days and that seemed to be the shortest and quickest way.  In hindsight it was very dangerous but I was living in an invulnerability bubble.  Since then I have been knocked off my bike twice, once by a driver turning right just in front of me.  I surprised him quite a lot when I cam smashing through his passenger window.  the second time I was hit by an articulated lorry changing from the outside lane, through the inside lane and into the cycle lane.  I was very lucky not to have been smeared.

Those incidents and the news of the death of two end to enders on one of the roads I had ridden in 2009 made me think that I should try to find a safer route.  My original route is up on my website and whilst I don’t recommend it I don;t want anyone to ride it and get injured or even killed.  So I set off on a much different route using a lot of minor roads, quiet lanes , cycle ways and canal tow paths.  It was infinitely better than the original route in terms of safety and enjoyment.  But it still wasn’t 100% right.  So I re-routed the not so good bit and then re-rode the route.  This time it was right.

front cover low res

 

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