It is now 11 days since we finished, so time to look back and sum up what we achieved, what we could have done better, what worked, what didn’t (for us).
Leaving home late in the evening and stopping after 6 or 7 hours driving, getting a good sleep and then finishing off the drive worked really well. We arrived at John O’Groats in the afternoon and had time to check the bikes over, rest, eat and relax ready for the start.
Letting Bryony start the ride, even though she was not 100% was a risk worth taking, even though she had to rest for a couple of days and get over her chest infection, she can justifiably say she started and finished the ride, put in 100% effort and was worth every penny she raised.
We originally had quite a convoluted route, this turned out to be time consuming and much less enjoyable than I anticipated. Stopping frequently to check the map breaks rhythm and really slows you down, changing the route to get on to some of the “A” roads that ran alongside the motorways, the A6 and A38 for example, gave us roads that were fast, in good repair and not too hilly (with the exception of some notable climbs). These allowed us to eat up the miles at a steady pace in a relatively traffic-free environment.
I think there are 3 main ways of doing the JOGLE/LEJOG:
The “Super fast” ride – 5 days or under, for those trying to beat a record etc. Riding through the night etc. I can’t imagine you’d see a lot, just head down and charge on! Probably not one I’d ever have the inclination to do! (Unless someone asked me!).
The “Retirement” ride – as long as it takes, seeing everything and probably doing 50-60 miles a day, which is definitely the way I would like to do it at some time – yes, once I’ve retired!
The “Workers” ride – a maximum of 2 weeks (including travelling time to the start/from the finish), to fit in with most peoples’ holiday allowance. This was obviously the one we did, it gave a balance of seeing quite a bit, but meant we could not hang around to admire too many views! Perhaps I picked the wrong route, I am sure we could have ridden less miles but seen more in the same time span, but Bry and Jon were on road bikes and so I avoided many of the cycle routes/tracks/canal paths as they are often not in good repair. One Bike Route we did follow, took us over 5 miles of rough, cow-dung splattered lanes to bring us out 1/2 a mile from where we had joined it! On the other hand, we did the Barnstaple to Bideford section of the Tarka Trail and had a lovely morning, a good surface to cycle on, lots of people out enjoying a traffic-free ride, a really pleasant experience.
The Satmap Active 10 was great, I would never do something like this without paper maps, but the Satmap gave me a pinpoint position and was invaluable for routing through towns. Just a shame I need glasses to read the thing! The biggest load of rubbish going (imo) is the bike mount for it though! I ended up putting the Satmap in my pocket and dragging it out when I needed it, the mount, although firmly secured to the bars, rattled with the weight of the Satmap in it, to the point where I thought it was going to split in to 2 parts as the retaining clip(which can be rotated to allow for bar or stem mounting) had worked loose (and once fitted to the bar the positioning screws cannot be accessed without removing the retaining bracket strap – which then becomes almost impossible to refit). I have glued the parts together since getting home!
Riding up through Glen Coe was my biggest disappointment, I’d been really looking forward to riding through the Glens, over Rannoch Moor and alongside Loch Lomond. I’d told Jon and Bry, and anyone else who would listen, how great it would be ! As it was, we had a headwind, drizzle and a cold climb up onto the Moor, with Jon dropping me by the time we’d got to Signal Rock and having to stop “to admire the view” at the Three Sisters to give me the chance to catch up! The coffee stop at the Green Welly was a godsend!
The Support Crew of Julie and Monica in the”Funbus” were worth their weight in gold! Stopping at random (but pre-arranged) points for food and/or hot drinks was so welcome, particularly during the first few days when it was cold and wet. The one day when we could have done with an extra meet was the Glen Coe to Biggar 140 miler. After lunch (and my famous hissy fit!) we’d left them to make their own way to the campsite and we then had around 6 hours or more of cycling alone, before the end Jon “bonked” and we needed to raid a garage for chocolate.
Having people join us for a day was a great morale booster. Gav and Genius riding with us on day 7 and Steve and Mat on the last day was such a good experience, we all (hopefully) had a good ride, a few laughs and put the seed in to the mind for other long distance rides. I think for Gav and Genius it was further than they expected, but they sailed through and hopefully will let me ride with them again (can the geriatric ride with the youngsters again, please?). For Steve and Mat I think it was a surprise how much the ride had taken out of us and how slowly they needed to ride to keep us in tow! Drafting off them was such a pleasant experience!
We have raised nearly £2,500 (hopefully by the time all the money is in we will have exceeded this sum). We rode approximately 1,020 miles in rain and sunshine and hopefully Jon and Bry will look back on this like I will, with fond memories and with a sense of achievement.
So, to the Awards Ceremony…
The Person Giving the Most Support to the Team:
Has to be Julie, despite driving a huge Motorhome for the first time in her life, driving in a strange location, navigating to remote campsites and putting up with me, she still managed to be stood on the side of the road waiting for us, with a big smile, kind words and a hug. Thank You, take a bow!
The Person Who Kept the Team Fed and Watered:
Monica was a diamond, she had us fed and watered before she had even got out of her pyjamas! A mug of hot tea/coffee in our hands as soon as we got off the bike and a helping hand whenever we needed it. Thank You, your turn to take a bow!
The Team Giving the Most Support:
This has to be the people of Loxhore, helping us fundraise, cheering us up to the Village Hall for the (fundraising) cream tea, feeding us (thank you Rene & Don), and generally being behind us all the way, many thanks from us!
The Person Managing to Smile through it All:
Jonboy smiled through everything the weather, the hills, or I could throw at him. Whenever Bry climbed a hill Jon was next to her, ready with a smile or a word of encouragement. Cheers Jon, it was a pleasure to ride with you!
The Person Showing the Greatest Commando Spirit:
Bryony – Despite falling off nearly every day, struggling up gigantic hills time after time and putting up with me pushing on “to make up time” she kept going, most of the time with a smile on her face (or did I mistake the grimace for a smile?). Well done Bry, shall I put you down for the next one?