1. The Five P’s
There is a business ethos that we use all the time that says;
Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
In the context of LEJoG, we’d say that the better the training, the more the adventure moves from being about surviving each gruelling day to a feeling of enjoyment.
However, the one thing that is critical is to never under estimate the need for training!
2. You can do it!
Whilst this, like most things is not a race, the idea is right – you have to be in it to win it.
No matter how hard you train, there is always this nagging question in the back of your mind “What if I can’t do it”. The proof, time and time again, is that if you want something bad enough, and you put your mind to it, you can do it!
But do it under your own terms, not someone else’s. The worst accident we saw over the trip was when one rider, who had little, if any, hill experience, decided to follow Jonathan down a very steep hill in the rain, lost control and ended up hitting rocks on the opposite side of the road.
You will be slower than many, but you’ll also be faster than many – so be safe and go at your own speed!
3. The Universal Law of Cycling.
It is a universal law of cycling that it will rain and you will get wet for a minimum of 25% of all your cycling time.
And don’t believe people when they say there’s no such thing as wrong weather, just wrong clothing!
There’s no way to get around this – you are going to get wet and you may as well just prepare for it.
4. What to take?
On any very big ride, you will get a kit list with information on lights, tubes, pumps etc.
The problem in this country is to know how to prepare for all eventualities.
But there are three key things we’ve learnt here when it comes to kit;
(a) research what might be needed for practicality and not vanity, in other words, take what you might need, not what might make you look good;
(b) pack economically for example, it is easy to rinse out an item or two in the evening and that item will be dry or nearly dry by the next morning (and if it’s not, it’ll probably be raining soon anyway!) and
(c) if you’ve done the first two things but you still have a heavy bag, for god’s sake make sure that your bag has wheels!!
A couple of other hot tips that we’ve picked up along the way; (i) don’t try and take kit off while moving we saw a serious crunch when someone was trying to remove their waterproof whilst still cycling (ii) be visible and courteous to other road users and most importantly (iii) be generous with the chamois cream!
5. Do it with Style
As per a previous post, a decision has to be taken before a ride whether the ride is going to be for time or for pleasure.
Our Oblivion Tour motto is “Whatever you do, do it with style!” and this enshrines the Tour ethos, again displayed on the LEJoG trip, that we want to savour every moment and enjoy every experience.
Whilst it isn’t always easy to by stylish – if you do have the same attitude to riding, then take time to stop and take photos, allow yourself a coffee and cake stop and enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
And always keep in mind that “What goes on tour, stays on Facebook!”
6. You are what you eat!
It is no surprise that the quality and quantity of what you eat and drink has a direct impact on how you will ride the next day. And there is stacks of advice available on what you should and shouldn’t do!
What we found worked for us was actually to eat as normally as possible, but to always have an emergency ration of food like a snack bar or perhaps Fruit Pastilles. Whilst gels have their place, they give a very short term boost to energy levels and good ride nutrition is more about managing a consistent energy release over the period of the ride.
As a wise person once told me, once the first hour is passed, get in to the habit of taking a small drink every 15 minutes and a small bite to eat every 30 minutes depending on cycling workload.
As Andy says; “Teamwork helped me crack 100 miles in 2015 and 1,000 in 2016. And also enabled me to complete 82 miles in the rain on handful of nuts, a banana and 5 fruit pastilles!!”
But, just to be clear, under no circumstances should you eat curry that glows in the dark from a dodgy catering van!
7. We all need friends.
You can not believe how much of a boost it was for us to be joined on days 3 and 4 by the Oblivion gang and additional friends.
The feeling that you get when friends go out of their way to help is better than the feel of cool bed sheets or unexpectedly finding £20 in your back pocket or even better than Butt’r Cream when you’ve got 100 miles to ride.
Friends make you laugh, they send you messages, they take your mind off your aching body – and like a really hot curry, that feeling of warmth lingers for a long time!
But whatever you do, don’t ever tell your friends that you don’t think they are taking enough pictures of you!
8. People are great!
We met so many wonderful people on our LEJoG adventure. There were many of the other cyclists with incredible stories who we now call friends. Just one example is an extraordinary person that we met, who got a disease 2.5 years ago that meant his inner ear was damaged to the extent that he could not balance enough to walk unassisted. And yet he’s just cycled from Lands End to John o’Groats!
We met a team of people from Discover Adventure who did everything they could (even on the wet and miserable days) to make our trip as enjoyable and successful as possible.
We met many hotel staff who went out of their way to help us to solve problems at each of our destinations (especially Lynne and Sandra at The Park Hotel in Thurso – look them up they are wonderful people).
We met people in coffee shops and petrol stations who helped us with directions and guidance, with tips and their toilets.
And finally, we met random strangers everywhere who were moved by what we were trying to do and who, completely unprompted, gave us donations to the charities.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – people are great!
One other ‘people’ thought here is that, if a riding partner starts singing or telling jokes, it is perfectly acceptable to speed up until they can’t keep up with you or can’t speak!
9. Do it for a reason.
As you have seen, this wasn’t all coffee, cake and laughs – there were quite a few dark days and low points over the trip.
But knowing that we were doing this for two fantastic charities, Breast Cancer Care and Cancer Research UK kept us all going.
If you have already donated, then please accept our heartfelt thanks, your kindness and generosity has been truly overwhelming.
If you haven’t yet donated, but would like to, then our two charities links are here:
10. Do it – Don’t regret it.
American actress Lucille Ball once said “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done, than regret the things I haven’t done”.
Stating the obvious, you only live once. Yet there always seems to be a good reason not to do something now, usually it’s not overly convenient.
You might be thinking about taking on a physical challenge like this bike ride, or learning something new like sign language or taking up a new hobby such as salsa dancing – don’t procrastinate – put a flag in the ground, commit to what makes you happy and start making your preparations.
Otherwise you may never get around to it!