Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A new home!

And so the story ended...or did it?

I just can't stop writing! So new blogs has been set up to capture moments on my bike and other stories. and Chasing the Sun to Santander.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The end of it or a new beginning?

My End-to-End certificate arrived today! It's a nice glossy one from the CTC HQ which I requested after dutifully completing the routesheet everyday after arriving at my destination during the challenge.

I can't believe that it is 5 and a bit weeks since I've completed the Big Bike Challenge. I often go out on my bike and is now looking forward to a week's cycling in France at the end of August.

So thoughts have sort of wandered off in the direction of another blog as this one is totally dedicated to the prep and the challenge of the LEJOG. It would be a shame to ruin this and to change the name, so I will keep this one in tact and then set up a new blog which will reference to the new one.

If you've landed on this page after searching for LEJOG then you've found hopefully a true reflection of a training schedule and a fabulous ride account. I also hope that you like what you've read and that you will continue following me on my new blog, come along and join me there!

Happy cycling and thanks for being part of my journeys...

Monday, 19 July 2010

Big Bike Ride 1

A series of short videos made during Day 14 enroute to Tongue.

Big Bike ride 2

Short video again...desolate road to Tongue!

Big Bike ride 3

Another short video on day 14

Big Bike ride 4

A short video taken on day 14 whilst enroute to Tongue.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Lejog photo album

We have put all our LEJOG photos now in an google album online for you to view. Enjoy ! Click on the image on the right and you will be directed to the album.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

One of the many hills of today. Beautiful scenary and the Gorse in full bloom.

Funny cotton like flowers on the Scottish hills. Does anyone know what the name of it is perhaps?

Did you know that Scotland has 8 days in their week ?!

Gorgeous sandy beaches with waves big enough for surfing

Another sandy beach picture

Stephen sheltering from the rain :-)

Arriving at Caithness

Taken last night at 10.40pm in Tongue.

And something else . . .

Jill, you were a star. Thanks so much for your support. Sorry I left you off my list.

Something else worth mentioning is that we didn't have a single puncture during the whole trip. A definite blessing :-)

Day 15 - 26 June

Brilliant ! We've done it ! We finished just after 5pm today and went straight to the photo booth. There is a little hut at both Land's End and at John O'Groats which has official photographers and being a Saturday today, we did not know until what time he would be there so it was with great relief when we spotted that he was still on duty.

Our day started really early. I don't think it really gets very dark so far up north. It was still very light when I tried to go to sleep last night so I took a picture. The window was a bit steamed up (room was hot and it was cold outside) so pardon the poor photo quality.

Anyway. We set off at 8.30 and were immediately into the hills. One massive hill after the other. That continued till well after the first 25mi when it sort of flatten out a bit. On top of that we got soaked! The weather was threatening with spots of rain and then it hammered it down. Cycling down a hill whilst raining hard is very unpleasant as the rain drops really sting your face, it almost feel like deep needle pricks.
The wind was also against us today and we were cycling against a severe head wind the whole way.

Lunch was a toastie at Thurso where we also got some coke and filled up our water bottles which were both empty by now. Then the battle with the head wind started again.
Stops became more frequent and I developed a new knee ache, different to the one I already had. Jackets were off and we were getting dry from our rain shower.
As usual the last 10 miles were really crunching time. We just put our heads down in the wind and kept going. And we finished !

Stats for today are :

63.19 mi

10.42 mi average speed

133 bpm average

32.39 mph max speed

3062 cals

The total stats for the challenge are :

Distance 1010 miles

Cycling time : 91hrs 48min 7 sec

Calories burned : 51 841

My wrists hurt a lot and so does my left knee. My bum is tender and my upper legs are stiff and very reluctant to climb any stairs. But everything will recover - I hope !

A BIG thank you to everyone that cheered me on during the challenge. In no particular order: Thanks to my mum for all her prayers to keep me safe, Kascha, Moira, Sue, Jo-anne, Kris, Matt, Sonia, Gemma, Ali, Tonia, Fawn, Carene, Kate and everyone else I didn't mention. Also a big thanks to my Twitter friends.

A particular thanks and HUGE hugs and kisses to my wonderful husband who was so patient and caring during the whole trip. He even carried my pannier for me all the way ! You are the best !

Thank you also to all our wonderful sponsors.
USN for all your wonderful products which carried us through our journey. Those products were life savers !
Thank you to Bikefactory for servicing our bikes and fixing Stephen's on Day 6 super fast ! Thank you also for the energy gels which helped everyday during the last 15 miles.

This was an experience that I will never forget.

Thanks for reading my blog and following us every day. You were a wonderful audience.

We did it !!!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Spelling mistakes

It is impossible fixing spelling mistakes on my blog from my phone. There are 2.
1. The price of the home baking is ridiculously low. Only 75p a big piece of cake.
2. Cycling really cleanses my mind. It didn't come out so well in the update !

Day 14 - 25 June

We've safely arrived at our second last destination - Tongue. So far the best YHA we've stayed in. The room has a personal touch with bedside tables and even a bedlamp and most importantly our beds were already made upon arrival! None of the usual bed dressing ritual we usually do when arriving at a YHA. The warden even does home baking and there were lovely cinnamon buns and various cakes to buy at ridiculous prices.

We left Bonar Bridge very late - about 9.30am as we had such a short day ahead of us. The miles did not come as easy as they did yesterday and I really struggled the first 15mi. The towns became fewer and we stopped at Lairg for a cup of tea after which we headed north towards Tongue. Lunch was at Altnaharra hotel who provided a bowl of soup and lovely smoked salmon sandwiches. We had to think carefully about our lunch stop as settlements are so sparse that you might find yourself in the sticks without food !

The day was really cold but it didn't rain. My feet were frozen by the time we got to our lunch stop so I was very happy about the soup option!

The road after our lunch stop became desolate. It felt very monotonous pedalling and it was probably the first boring road of the ride.

The scenery was quite spectacular. Very isolated but stunningly beautiful with a very wild feel to it. There were some cars and because it was a single track road there were lots of passing places. At one time we cycled from one passing place to the next when we tried to conquer a hill :-)

Soon we descended into Tongue, found the local SPAR and got supplies for tonight.

Tomorrow is our last day and it is quite surreal that I have nearly completed this challenge. I will definitely miss the cycling days. I know that sounds really weird but the simplicity of this type of holiday is so good and i really cleanses your mind.

Whilst cycling you often think about something and nothing. I can cycle for miles without thinking about anything. It is really good as it gives my brain a chance to rest !

So the stats for today are:

51.5mi (includes a trip to the SPAR)

2429 cals

1519 ascent

1947 descent

10.8mph average speed

124 bpm average

I will post our finishing photo tomorrow on the blog including some celebratory photos !

Another pic of Lairg

A very desolate road from Lairg to Tongue. It just kept on and on and on !

Tongue YHA. The best Youth Hostel so far!

And the first sign with John O'Groats on it! Just as we arrived in Tongue.

Absolute stunning scenery surrounds the hostel.

Stephen with the hostel in the background.

Approaching Lairg

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Day 13 stats

3618 cals
11 mph average speed
2254 ft ascent
2680 ft descent

My meal tonight. A fabulous chicken leek and mushroom pie. Thanks so much to Jan @ the Bridge Hotel in Bonar Bridge for excellent service and friendliness:-)

The bridge that gave its name to the town

Day 13 - 24 June

We were terribly slow this morning leaving Loch Ness. We stayed in bed until we really needed to move on. There were no catering at the hostel so a spared yoghurt from last night was breakfast.

The first 10mi was fast and furious. We stopped at Drumnodrochit for my breakfast which was a bacon and brie pannini with tea.

We continued our journey along the Loch towards Inverness. The weather was good for cycling - sunny with a tail wind. We were only stopped in our tracks when the swung the bridge over the Caledonian canal to let a boat through.

The traffic was quite heavy in Inverness and we alternated between road and cycle paths to make our way through towards the Black Isle using the bridge over the Moray Firth.

We accessed a cycle path after the bridge which took us to Dingwall where we had a good value lunch at Tesco.

Today was the first time when we deviated from our route. Not once but twice choosing an additional 10mi rather than a climb into low clouds.The rest of the ride sapped our energy. With only 20mi left after Dingwall we felt we had am easy day but it was a tough stretch to Bonar Bridge. The wind was sometimes a tail wind and sometimes a head wind. On top of this the Garmins played up. Mine miscalculated the distance left and when I re navigated it switched itself off. So I lost a bit of data and it seems to think that my average speed was 20mph and did the whole ride in about 3hrs ! So giving the data tonight will be partly Stephen's !

We are in a B&B tonight which is such a luxury! We aim to lie under the duvet and watch telly!

The weather does not look great for Friday and Saturday so we might have to cope with some rain (what is that again ? LOL !)

Tomorrow is a very short day with only 48mi to go so we are thinking about a lie in !

Ok. So the good bits about doing this trip.

1. Definitely raising the sponsorship money for Alzheimer's

2. The simplicity of the trip. Not worrying about anything else but getting to your destination every day

3. Hearing the birds and seeing the scenary in slowmotion instead of a whizz in a car

4. Spending quality time with my husband!

5. Meeting lots of friendly people on our journey. Quite a number of people came over and spoke to us about our ride.

6. Lots of really careful drivers that take care when passing us

7. Appreciating a hot shower after each ride!

8. Not worrying what to wear in the evening as I only have one set of clothes!

9. Talking to sheep and being the highlight of a cow's day!

10. Arriving safely and without any hiccups at your destination every night

11. And lastly: finding your destination is on a flat. Not at the bottom or top of a hill :-)

Only two more days to go . . .

We were on the North Sea Cycle route !

Entering the last county of the north UK - Sutherland

Eating a USN protein bar for energy

Excellent cycle paths and signs from Inverness north to Dingwall

Inverness from the bridge

Approaching the Moray Frith - the bridge by Inverness

Kyle of Sutherland - 5 miles from B&B


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The view from my window over Loch Ness.

The same Loch Linnhe - low clouds in the fore

I'm not sure when this happened but all road signs in Scotland is now both in English and Gaelic.

A magnificent staircase of locks in Fort Augustus to let boats through from the Caledonian canal to Loch Ness.

Loch Linnhe just after we crossed the bridge in the background

Day 12 - 23 June

Today was the best day so far. Here are the stats :

59.95 mi

3200 cals

Average speed : 11.5 mph

Total ascent : 1615 ft

Total descent : 1853 ft

Average heartrate : 121 bpm

I can hear the swells of Loch Ness whilst writing this update. The YHA is on the shores of the Loch and provides a spectacular view. I will take a photo and upload it so you can see.

Today started with a lovely downhill whizzing through Glen Coe. The road quickly became very busy even though we started early as it is one of the main roads to Inverness. Lorries, cars and big tourist buses passed some times quite close - main culprits the tourist buses. We followed some of the lochs and lunch was at Invergarry where I took my chance and ordered Haggis which was fab. We had some persistant hills today and one particular silly experience was where there were road works right at the bottom of one which was regulated by a convoy system. Only one side of the road was tarred and the other side stripped. We went through last and then had to struggle up the hill whilst the oncoming cars were stopped to allow us through. That was quite stressful as you know you need to make it up the hill and all cars are waiting for you.

Anyway we made it to the hostel to arrive just before 5pm when it opened.
I thought I would share some of the bad bits and good bits of the trip so far.

Bad bits

1. Serious traffic some times which gets complicated when you struggle up a hill and negotiate poor road surfaces

2. Aches and pains. My left knee is hurting like hell after 25 miles and it has had me in tears whilst trying to do a hill. My bottom is also in a less than perfect condition. Need I say more?

3. Sleep in a different bed every night. We use YHA so has to dress the bed when arrive and share facilities

4. Early morning wake ups , get on your bike and get properly awake during the next 5 miles

5. Seeing lots and lots road kill - it's awful

6. Struggling to do the last 10 miles every day

7. Washing your kit in the sink every evening hoping it's dry enough to wear the next morning

And so on. So you see it is not just fun and games :-

Enough for tonight. Good bits tomorrow !

Fort Augustus


Fort Augustus


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Day 11 - 22 June

If I had to pick up all the clothes and bits strewn along the road whilst cycling I would've had a full wardrobe by now ! From bra's and knickers to towels and shoes ! Really. You can't believe the amount of stuff that people just dump.

We left Loch Lomond late, only at 9.20 so we were not on schedule. But the miles flew past and the road was flat ! Lunch was a stop at a station cafe at Tarbet. A toastie, chips to share and a piece of rocky road washed down with a Coke.

Soon we were doing the miles again and some stretches were quite a slog. Most of the time we went downhill but the stretch to Glen Coe were uphill climbing. best bit was a 4mi descent into the valley.

Just after we turned off for the YHA , a Tornado came streaking down the valley with such speed and noise ! It was great and Stephen even ducked his head!

Dinner was at a pub which was a mile away but the food was great.
The worst thing today was seeing a dead Deer and the best the Tornado.

Tomorrow it our only short day. Only 58mi :-)

We hope to get to Loch Ness in good time but need to think about checking in which is not before 5pm. They also don't cater so we need to sort ourselves out with food and the nearest pub is too far.

Today's stats are:


3140 cals

Average speed 11.9mph

Ascent 2105 ft

Descent 2413 ft

Oh yes and I'm getting fitter ! My heartrate has dropped since we started and I don't think it has to do with less hills :-)

Day 1 : 139 bpm

Day 2 : 138 bpm

Day 3 : 134 bpm

Day 4 : 128 bpm

Day 5 : 130 bpm

Day 6 : 133 bpm

Day 7 : 128 bpm

Day 8 : 128 bpm

Day 9 : 128 bpm

Day 10 : 121 bpm

Day 11 : 126 bpm

Bpm stands for beats per minute.

We've uploaded lots of photos to the blog. I hope you like it !

The view from our window at Loch Lomond last night

Loch Lomond from Tarbut

Glen Coe en route to pub


Stephen at the Argyll and Bute sign

Bridge of Orchy


Entering the Highlands

Monday, 21 June 2010

More photos

Some photos

Day 10 stats

2996 cals
1611ft ascent
3054 ft descent (downhill all the way !)
Average speed : 11.3 mph

Day 10 - 21 June

This was a much better day than yesterday.

We stayed at The Garage B & B in Wanlockhead which was excellent. We had access to a lounge too so a quick catch up on TV and world affairs were good.

Cycling out of Wanlockhead was difficult as it was more uphill to start with. But that soon changed with a very long downhill that followed.
The miles seemed to whizz by and before long we stopped at Services (that was a bit funny to arrive on bikes and no we were not on the motorway) to have some tea and cake.

Soon we were entering the outskirts of Glasgow. I could see the high rise buildings from quite a distance so it was good to cycle towards it. Going through the city seemed endless and eventually we stopped for a rest at the riverside of the Clyde. It sort of reminded me of Newcastle, but I'm sure the Scots will disagree !

We took a fantastic cycle path from Glasgow to Loch Lomond which was Sustrans route 7. It runs along a part of the river, uses an old railway line and then follows the canal.It took us straight to Loch Lomond.

The YHA is spectacular. It was a stately home before it was converted into a YHA with money donated by trade unions of the USA through the British War Relief Society.

Tomorrow we will follow Loch Lomond for a long while - a third of the ride tomorrow - and then turn away to Glen Coe.

Some interesting things we saw today was a boat plane taking off on the river in Glasgow and a lot of smart buildings along the riverside in Glasgow. Even a super yacht parked outside on the river by the Crowne Plaza.

The stats will follow in a seperate email as Garmin is charging upstairs :-)

Loch Lomond YHA.

In Glasgow at the River Clyde.

Taken at 2.30pm today.

Day 10

Day 9 - 20 June

Stats : 76.54mi

3748 cals

Average speed :11.3

Well again I think the stats tell the story, however the last bit of the day I just really ran out of steam. If bonking is what I felt I certainly think I had it. We were coming down in the pass when I just felt really dizzy. I felt like I wanted to faint. I had to get off the bike and walk for a while just to try and recover.

We are staying tonight in the highest village in Scotland, a place called Wanlockhead. A TV series called Hope Springs was filmed here a while ago.

Big highlight of the day was crossing the border into Scotland. Such a feeling to realise that I have actually cycled all through England to arrive here in Scotland !

Our route tomorrow will take us through Glasgow and then north to Loch Lomond, our stay tomorrow night.

So far we've only had headwinds and no tail winds but from our weather report tonight is might change tomorrow ! Watch this space !