12th May 2015 Written by John Rogers, Chief Executive

Image: Adventure awaits!On May 14th I will be starting a cycle ride from Land's End (Cornwall) to John ‘O’Groats (Highlands) with (on average) two friends and a small support team to raise money for Children’s Hospice South West. Our aim is to reach John O’Groats by the 30th May.

We have been training for the last 9 months, so the fitness levels should generally be OK – but with a combined age of well over 100 years old, it is probably the wear and tear that will be the problem! We are aiming to do about 100km per day – which in itself is not too great – but 100km every day for 18 days could get a little wearing.

  • LEJOG Final Blog!

    Image: John O'Groats.Well, we made it from Lands End to John O’Groats, powered purely by our legs on 40 year old bicycles. 1100 miles by the (very) scenic route and over £4,000 raised for Children’s Hospice South West.

    The last few days were quite testing. Mainly lots of rain and heavy winds – mostly in our faces. I twisted my knee (not on the bicycle) two days from the end – so my second to last day was sponsored by Nurofen and paracetamol, but by the last day all aches and pains had disappeared. Even the wind turned around for our final 20 miles and literally blew us to John O’Groats.

    The whole journey was a great experience. Even the negatives such as having our support Land Rover stolen turned into positives as Bolton Lads and Girls Club came to our rescue and loaned us one of their six-seater transit vans for the rest of the trip. The Land Rover was also recovered by the police with few items missing. Martin’s driving glasses were gone, they had taken some paracetamol out of the first aid kit and the driving seat was moved a long way back – so our suspect thief is very tall with bad eyesight and a headache!

    Image: In Scotland.I can claim to be the only rider who made it End-to-End without falling off my bike (we should have had a basic riding proficiency test for the others before we set off). However, I managed to put on 3-4 pounds in weight despite doing all those miles every day for 17 days. That probably proves the theory that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, as we were eating for England, Wales and Scotland.

    The only question left is – what is the next challenge? (after the sore bits have healed!!)

  • LEJOG Day 13

    Image: Day 13The last few days have been great, moving on into Scotland and cycling over Arran on to Oban. The Scenery has been wonderful, although we have had 15 mph head winds that have sapped the energy a bit. The people in Scotland have been really generous, with people coming up to us (without encouragement!) to give money – even though it is a South West Children’s Hospice charity.

    We have seen a number of personnel changes, with our support team changing through Shirley Payne, Richard Alexander and now Simon Payne who will be with us for the rest of the trip. We have also been joined for a few days cycling by Ian Pollard and Chris Strong – which has been a great help as cycling in formation (slip-streaming with different people taking the wind buffeting at the front) has become particularly important with the direct heavy (and continuous!) head winds.

    Tomorrow, the weather forecast says that we are going to get absolutely drenched all day as we cycle from Kilmartin to Glencoe. That will be another challenge as we will be wet, cold and tired. In fairness, we have had quite a good run without rain (for late May) – and it will be an opportunity to try out our new waterproofs that we re-stocked in Kendal.

    The limbs are holding out with only 5 days cycling left to go. Each day seems to be very full of cycling, eating, showering, eating and sleeping. Really looking forward to the Great Glen and the Caledonian Canal and lochs.

    Onwards and upwards.

  • LEJOG Day 9

    Image: Day 9Well, half way there, 530 miles past and another 500 plus miles to do. It is now our rest day and we are treating ourselves to a hotel spa. The cycling is generally tougher than I expected, but having climbed 1200 feet for 5 miles into a 15mph head-wind yesterday, we are fairly confident that we can finish the journey OK.

    The worst part of the ride so far was having the support Land Rover stolen overnight between days 7 and 8. We were in a hotel near Bolton and when we came down to get out equipment in the morning, the Land Rover had gone. Luckily we had moved the bikes into separate storage and had the majority of things with us in the hotel. However, it left us without a support vehicle and a number of items (spare bike, spare inner tubes and tyres, bike rack, waterproofs, tool kit etc). We contacted the local radio (Heart) who put out requests to see if the Land Rover had been sighted – and we were also covered in the local newspapers. As a result of the coverage, a number of local charities contacted us to offer help, and the Lads and Girls Club Bolton offered to loan us their seven seater transit van to take to John O’Groats and back with us – so we are continuing the journey.

    Image: Day 9Other than all of that, the scenery is spectacular as we go – and we have still got Scotland to come. We are cycling to Carlisle tomorrow and then on to New Galloway the next day – over to Arran and Oban and then up to Fort William. Weight loss does not seem to be a problem as I am eating for the equivalent of 4 people.

    Onwards and upwards (literally).

  • LEJOG Day 4

    Image: Day 4We are now 4 days into the ride have covered Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and now across the bridge into Wales (we will be covering 3 countries).

    What can I say about Cornwall – it has a lot of hills! Someone did not design this “end to end” arrangement very well – they really should have made Cornwall flatter. But then again, it would not be as beautiful without the hills.

    Devon was a little more rolling – with fewer but bigger and longer hills. We are however very grateful to the gentleman (probably Brunel) who built a railway track – with the great foresight that that it would be turned into a 7-8 mile cycle track into Okehampton for our particular use.

    The Somerset levels were a great relief on day 4 – though it was an 80 mile day. Coming over the old Severn Bridge was pretty spectacular – but also very very windy.

    Accommodation has ranged from a “Snooze Box” at the Eden Project, to Spike’s aunty Sue’s (who was a wonderful host to tired cyclists) – and last night we stayed in a castle (YHA) which was actually very cosy but had poor signal/wifi!

    All the muscles and bones are still intact – with a few sores bits. Being in Wales it is raining – but very beautiful! It is onwards on upwards (literally we are heading through Wales towards Hereford) today. Still on plan for John O’Groats by the end of the Month

  • LEJOG Day 1

    Image: Lands End.My bike can best be described as “retro” – a traditional old (1970s) Dawes classic “Super Galaxy”  tourer.  It is definitely a lot heavier than modern bikes – with none of the mod-cons, but it is relatively “comfy”and with 1100 miles to go that is likely to be important.

    Our route is not the shortest at over 1100 miles, but we have opted for the quite roads – and avoiding a few hills. The general direction is Lands End – St Austell – Taunton – Chepstow – Wye Valley – Chester – Bolton – Preston – Kendal – Carlisle – Arran – Oban – Fort William – Inverness – then keep going north. I am particularly looking forward to the Arran and Oban stretch if we get there!

Our charity, Children’s Hospice South West helps children and their families who are living with life-limiting conditions. They provide support to 400 families based around three purpose-built hospices at Little Bridge House in North Devon, Charlton Farm in North Somerset and Little Harbour in Cornwall. The demand, of course, is always greater than what they can meet.

Image: The route.I will be setting out with Martin Bentham and Rob Greenwood from Lands End, with support from Shirley Payne and Michael “Spike” Follett – Simon Payne and Richard Alexander will join in on the support later in the ride, and Ian Pollard will cycle with us for a few days from Carlisle. My current feeling is optimistic (but with a little trepidation – as there have been some niggling injuries over the last couple of months).

I will be updating Facebook and Twitter as I go – and hope to be writing a final blog in John O’Groats on the 30th May! If you see us, toot your horn and give us a wave!

Follow our twitter handle @skillsforhealth or our Facebook page for updates!

For more information, check out our fundraising page: Blagdon Three LEJOG, Lands’ End to John O’Groats