Introduction


[Note:  I recently rode end to end a second time, this time the traditional way from Lands End to John O'Groats (see blog).  Over time I will be altering the content of the site with my new experiences from that ride. I also intend to include the route I rode because it was much quieter and I think would be of great interest for most riders.  I certainly enjoyed it far more than the route I rode from John O'Groats to Lands End.]


There are a number of books and various websites that give advice, guidance and different routes for getting from one end of the country to the other on what must be Britain’s most famous long distance challenge ride.


Which begs the question, “Why should you buy this one?”

 

In writing this book I have followed one main ethos:  I am not an expert on all things cycling.

 

No – don’t give up just yet!  This is a layman’s guide written by a layman based on his experiences of planning a ride from scratch.  It sets out the issues that you will need to consider (planning, training, equipment, travel to and from the start/finish, route, accommodation, etc..) and is designed to provoke thought in each aspect of your ride rather than try to give you definitive answers. 

 

There are good reasons for this.  For a start, things change.  Between the time of me typing this and you reading it many ‘facts’ which could be contained in the book may no longer be correct. 

 

Let me give an example to illustrate the point.  When I first tried to plan my ride I checked train times and costs to John O’Groats (more specifically Wick, 16 miles short of John O’Groats).  The train left Plymouth about 20:00 and, after three changes, arrived in Wick 18 hours later at roughly 14:00 next day.  I can’t remember the precise times but it meant I arrived with time to cycle to a B&B near the start, ready to begin in the morning.  The cost with bike, booking in advance, was about £75.  That ride fell through but the next year I planned again.  When I came to book the train I found it had changed.  It now took 28 hours with an overnight stop and cost £240 (plus the cost of accommodation for the overnight unless I wanted to spend 8 hours on the platform).

 

Another example of why I have tried to provoke thought rather than dictate your actions is routing.  When I first considered riding an end to end [as all tours between Land’s End and John O’Groats will be referred to in this book] finding a route was daunting.  I thought the best thing to do would be to find a route somebody else had used.  I got hold of several but none of them were really suitable to the journey I wished to make.  I soon concluded that routing was a very personal thing and that nobody else’s route would ever suit me entirely.  The problem was that none of the guides I had purchased actually gave me any advice about how to devise a route myself.

 

So, whilst I have included detailed written directions to my own route (including a weblink for gps downloads) and a narrative of the journey to give you a flavour of the experience, I am aware that some aspects of it may not appeal to you.  Therefore my route section deals with the types of things that you will want to consider when deciding upon your route (such as terrain, how far a day you want to travel, type of accommodation etc..) and how to produce a route with written directions rather than leave you with no option but to use my route.  In fact I would not recommend that you follow my route, unless you want to complete the ride quickly.


For your convenience I have divided the book into three main sections, cunningly entitled Beginning, Middle and End.  The beginning section deals with the things you will need to consider, well, at the beginning.  Ideally you need to have a good idea about these things early on as they will help shape what goes on in the middle – sorting your route and getting the training in.  And most of us will have to do these things before the end section, which deals with the ride itself.

 

So, without more ado…

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