The critical thing about planning is to start doing it. Until you get the ball rolling your end to end will not progress beyond the, ‘ride I’ve always talked about’ stage. I’ve found the best way to kick off is to set a date. When you put a cross on the calendar it tends to focus the mind. It works even better if you tell other people about it because it’s much harder to back out or let the date slide.
Of course there will be a number of factors for you to think about before randomly sticking a pin in the calendar:
- preferred weather conditions. Do you want to be battling through snow? Are you uncomfortable riding in the heat?
- hours of daylight - how long do you intend to ride each day?
- type and cost of accommodation – high or low season.
- sights you want to see – maybe you want to see snow on the hills or the highlands in heather or daffodils in Windermere or cones on the road or caravans blocking every lane.
- personal matters. Things specific to you that will constrain when you can do the ride such as work, prior commitments, family matters etc.
Once you have a date set (or at least penciled in) you can start planning your activities. To illustrate this I have set out below how I set about planning my trip.
After months of dithering I started actually ‘planning’ over the Christmas break. Initially this involved picking a date [after due consultation process with spouse – highly recommended] and marking it on the calendar.
In arriving at the date the things I took into consideration were:
- I wanted to complete the ride in 6 days and guestimated I would need to cycle about 150 mile a day. At my normal average speeds over this distance I thought I would need 12 hours in the saddle plus stopping time. So I would need to have plenty of daylight or be prepared to ride in the dark. The beginning of May to Middle of August would be good.
- I like riding in warm sunny conditions so to maximize the possibility of this I narrowed down my time window to July and August.
- My wife would be left to deal with the household of two small boys, two puppies and two cats whilst working herself, so to give her a fair chance I had to avoid school holidays. This ruled out the last week of July and all of August.
- I was riding solo and wanted to keep my equipment down so did not want to camp. I decided to use B&B accommodation but my budget was tight so I had to avoid peak season. This meant as far from the summer holidays as possible so early July seemed to be the best bet.
- I wanted to start on a Sunday to give me Saturday for travel to the start and the following Saturday and Sunday for recovery [in hind sight – ha bloody ha!] before going back to work on the Monday. So my date was set as the first Sunday in July.
Having set the date a number of things immediately crystalised:
- I had a date for travel and could begin searching for the costs of various options for travelling to John O’Groats.
- I knew how long I had before the ride for training so could set an appropriate training schedule.
- I also knew how long I had to lose those extra kilos that I didn’t want to haul from one end of the country to the other.
- I had a time frame to set a budget to cover the expenses of the trip.
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