Continuing with the theme of interviewing tour operators that provide cycle holidays, I caught up with Andrew Straw, the brains behind Saddle Skedaddle, a UK company that provide cycling holidays across the UK, Europe and worldwide. With the theme of my blog on LEJOG, I asked Andrew some questions on this famous end 2 end cycling trip including Andrew’s preferred route to take.
What type of cycling holidays do Saaddle Skedaddle offer?
Saddle Skedaddle provide a range of cycling holidays throughout the UK, which includes the LeJog as well as lots of tours in Europe and to most corners for the world. Skedaddle offer both fully guided and self guided routes and have grades from easy to challenging. Within their range are road, mountain biking, leisure and family holidays and they are also able to offer bespoke / custom made tours.
Our LeJog is offered at as a two week and three week option and is fully guided (one riding guide and a driver / support person). breakfast and lunches (expect lush picnics not cheese n pickle sandwiches) are provided and are luggage transfers, route notes and gps units too. Group size is kept at between 6 and 14 people and there is no camping…hell why make it tough on yourself? Skedaddle have been running trips on the lejog since 2005 and offer what we feel is the best and more comprehensive lejog package.
So what was your first bike and how did you get into cycling?
First bike was a Raleigh Olympus 5 speed – turquoise and silver, white fancy white bar tape. I decided that walking my paper round was taking too long and with the aero-dynamics of my snorkel parka I could shave 30 minutes of it and maybe make it to school on time
How many times have you completed the famous LEJOG and what would you say is the hardest part of LEJOG?
I’ve cycled it twice. The hardest part for me is heading up to the ski station at the lecht is a tough climb and doesn’t ever get any easier, though I know that at the top there is the always a warming cuppa and a fruit scone waiting for me to celebrate
How much training do you do before setting off or are you THAT good to not bother with any?!
I ride as a guide for Skedaddle and so I am regularly out and about on my bike, though I do tend to get a few more miles in before doing the trip – don’t want to be left behind by the customers really!
In your opinion, what’s the best route to take for LEJOG?
Start in Cornwall and rollercoaster through this hilly county. Don’t be fooled Cornwall in not flat! Skirt through Devon and then head up through Somerset via Glastonbury making sure to check out wonderful Wells and its impressive cathedral. Continue to Herefordshire via Cheddar Gorge and stop the night in Ironbridge on the border of North Wales in Shropshire.
Continue northwards to ‘the north’ checking out Cheshire along the way before the Lake District arrives and brings with it a few more hills. Cycle through dramatic Cumbria and soon you’ll be in the Tweed Valley and Scotland. Take it easy to Edinburgh then cross the Forth Road Bridge to Fife.
Pedal through Perth, bike through Ballater and edge towards Inverness. Nearly there as you hit Bonar Bridge and then Altnaharra before swinging east at Bettyhill and soon you’ll be at John O’Groats
Roughly how many punctures have you encountered?
“I’ve lost count. If only i’d made the maths class instead of being out on my bike”
Most scenic part of the LEJOG trip?
“Scotland from Inverness to John O’Groats is for me the most scenic if the weather is good”
Any recommendations on places to stay along the route?
“The key is finding places that are not too far apart and checking they haven’t changed hands since being there last. It’s the accommodation people that can make or break a trip!”
Any favourite stop-overs you always stay at?
“Not really – As long as they are welcoming, put the kettle on when you arrive, the shower is hot and the bed comfy I’m a happy person!”
And finally, apart from your bike, what other must have essential piece of equipment can you not live without when completing lejog?
“earplugs – two pairs, one for me and one for my room-mate who invariably snores”
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