LE to JoG

After ‘one too many’ at a Berkhamsted Cycling Club Social, one of our gang decided that it would be a good idea to cycle Lands End to John O’Groats and back again (2,000 miles!!??). After a period of recovery and reflection, it was decided it would be far more sensible to just do ‘one way’.
Mike, Graham, Sarah and Michael start their mammoth 10 day challenge on Tuesday 2nd May and are doing it for the charity Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted.
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Chapeau!! The BCC Fantastic Four have only gone and done it!! An incredible achievement for a very worthy cause. Read the gang’s day by day account…

Day 1
To quote Michael (the Chairman)…
“Day 1 done and now for Day 2! Day 1 was a bit tougher than expected with over 8,000 feet of climbing. I think Cornwall threw everything it had at us. The countryside was beautiful and the weather was spectacular. We are so lucky to have started on such a nice day. But we all got through and some tired but happy BCC’ers chowed down and then hit the sack. Now for Devon!”

Day 2
More from Michael (the Chairman)…
“Day 2 done. A long day in the saddle making our way across Devon today and we did not get to the hotel until 9pm. The climb up and over Dartmoor was amazing. Then we fell down to a great little town Morton Hempstead for lunch. Mike P had some rear wheel bearing issues but a nice bloke from the local cycling shop helped out. Then it was a big climb out and on and into Somerset for our overnight in Glastonbury. We faffed around a bit today so it was a long one. I have called this one The Paul Hartwell in his honour…you know how tolerant Paul is of faffing! Anyway 104 miles today and 7,000′ and off to Clun tomorrow and 120 miles. Happy days!”

Day 3
Update from Michael (the Chairman) and Mike…
“120 miles, 6,500′ today. We had a long steep climb out of Glastonbury via Bristol Hill and then across Somerset to Bristol, across Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s suspension bridge, through South Gloucestershire, then across the Severn and into Wales. Today we had the most perfect weather with blue skies all the way. The highlight so far is the Wye valley to Montmouth and Hereford and the onto Clun for the night. May I suggest that whatever you do make sure you add the Wye valley to your cycling bucket list. Total miles so far 315 which puts us almost one third of the way at end of day three! All are well and Miles’ positive remarks about Mikes Mavic seems to have fixed the problem. Onto Widnes tomorrow.”
“Arrived at Clun at 11pm after 123 miles of cycling from Glastonbury. We stopped to eat 23 miles ago as we wouldn’t get fed otherwise. Last 23 miles were dark country lanes with a few hills to finish off. Only 85 miles tomorrow”

Day 4
Update from Michael…
“Only an 85 miler today with just 2,500′ of climbing which took us out of Clun, in and out of Wales all day and into Widnes for the night. Crossing the Mersey was windy and exciting. So at end Day 4 we have now cycled 400 miles. The main topic of conversation today was Butt jokes as I am sure you’ll know why! Various remedies are being tested and a report will be issued soon. Bikes and riders are still in one piece although GE definitely has more than one life. I will let him explain. On to Kendal tomorrow and lot’s more climbing. Off to dinner now. Adios!”

Day 5
Update from Michael…
“Our BCC’er tour of Britain continues. Proud to say on behalf of the whole team that we are now at the half way mark. We have 5 days to go and we have now done 500 of 973 miles. Today we cycled out of Widnes and up through Lancashire to Kendal in the Lake District. Along the way, we had breakfast at Sean’s Sandwich Bar in Bolton where the lovely ladies upon hearing about our adventure gave it to us for free. Later in Blackburn we found a bike shop (eWood) where all our repairs were done. Great guys who fixed all the issues on our bikes on the spot. Wish you could get service like that down our way! We got into Kendal at 9:45pm after doing 100 miles and 4,500′ of climbing but we lost 3 hours today getting the bikes repaired which set us back a bit. Tomorrow we are off to Moffat which means Mike P will finally get to show us what a good translator he is. 105 miles and 5,500′ is on the agenda. BTW Butt issues are resolved…we have the solution! Thanks for all your kind messages…they are very motivating.”

Day 6
Update from Michael…
“We crossed in to Scotland today to overnight in Moffat. We have now done 605 miles. This morning we left Kendal and had the most enjoyable cycle through the Lake District along Lake Windermere and on through Cambria. We all agreed this stunning, bike friendly place provided some of our best riding so far. We lunched in Gretna just over the border and then made for Moffat. We were all very tired today. I think the toll of 6 days x 100 miles is starting to take its toll but when the issue of missing dinner was raised because we might arrive too late a sudden burst of last minute, Kendal Mint Bat energy saw us in to Moffat at 8:30pm still in time for dinner.”

Day 7
Update from Michael…
“105 miles, 5,000′ today. We left Moffat and made for Glasgow and then onto our overnight stop at Crianlarich, the gateway to the Highlands. Our route took us along Loch Lomond which was very pretty. The weather today was superb (eat your heart out Alex Edgar!). A small incident today as Sarah had to avoid an MTB’er coming the other way on a cycling path. Sarah is fine but she caused a five car pile up 🙂 …the drivers were clearly stunned by the elegance of the BCC jersey (yours for only £29 from Simon Pearce jersey sales!). We have completed 715 miles in 7 days. Tomorrow we head to Inverness. Thanks for all your comments and support. I assure you we find these very motivating. Here is a video of Mike P leading the team this morning (we filmed this in slow-mo or at least that is what Graham calls this speed!).”
Video from FaceBook (you may need to be logged in to view it).

Day 8
Update from Michael…
“Our longest day yet (120 miles) so we just rolled in to Inverness at 22:15. We have now completed 825 miles with just 150 to go. Today’s highlights were the Caledonia Canal and the Great Glen before Glencoe. Then down Loch Ness going the opposite way to what we did two weeks ago at Etape Loch Ness. Another bonus of having Mike P on board is him teaching us to speak Scottish as we ride…today we perfected the shouting of “Aye, Aye” at everyone we passed. I don’t know why we do this but Mike says it’s the proper thing to do in these parts. From a skills point of view (James P, Ian S etc) I was able to give the team some much needed MTB cross country experience via a little diversion I requested to Grahams dedicated road bike route. This did cost us time but from the “happy?” look on the teams faces I could tell it was worthwhile. We are really proud to report that our Just Giving page has raised over £1,000 for the Hospice but it would be really great if we could double that so even if you can spare just a fiver please do. Here’s the map of where we are tonight. Just two days to go now!”

Day 9
Update from Mike…
“910 miles completed and arrived at Altnaharra ..tomorrow we should arrive at John o’Groats our final destination 😀.We will head back to Inverness for a celebration meal. Breakfast with Steve Plowman and then flying home to Susan Plowman”

Day 10
Update from Michael…
Mission completed! Our final push, which appeared simple on paper at just 75 miles was severely complicated by a strong headwind gusting to 60 mph the whole way. But the team pressed on and we made JOG at 17:10. First I want to thank Mike, Graham and Sarah for riding this with me and helping me to achieve a long term goal to do LEJOG. Second I want to give a big shout out to Sarah Warrington who was originally not sure if she would be able to complete this but she did it in fine form. Third I want to thank my wife Marina who was our support driver always scouting ahead for us, finding us great places to eat and sorting out our hotel rooms and everything else you can think of. Finally I want thank all of our BCC members and friends for your great encouragement and support and for helping us to raise over £1,350 for the Hospice. See you back in Berko!