SO LEJoG day by day

I am now officially an end to ender

A few last words...

I really enjoyed my lejog experience except for the dark days when I wasn't 100%.  The cycling was fine - maybe a lower gear would have been useful a couple of times but not a biggie. I had no idea it could be so cold in September - in hindsight I was ill-equipped for bad weather but bike shops and credit cards fixed that as the ride progressed. The UK is big with amazing places pretty much end to end - I feel I know it a little better than I did before and there are lots of sites I'd love to revisit (in a car).

Cycling is a great way to travel - whatever the weather - with good weather and company there is nothing to beat it.  Would I do it again?  Probably not.  Will I keep riding? For sure I will.

Arrived at John o'Groats after 1085 miles

Beautiful last day - overshoes not required and the jacket was partially unzipped at times! Cycled East across the top of Scotland to JOG via Dunnet Head - the most northerly point on the mainland. Blue skies, awesome scenery and even a tail wind made for a brilliant last day - It was so clear we could see across to Orkney - so lucky.  Everyone made the 4pm photo call by the sign and then there was some fizz to celebrate. Definitely a good day - I even have a double bed rather than a prison cell single. Cycling clothes have been dumped on the floor - no need to wash or dry for tomorrow as I won't be in Lycra! Coach to Inverness, plane to gatwick, then train and tube home - can't wait.  But first a little more celebrating to do tonight.

Stats: Miles today 62, total miles 1085, climb today 2,700 feet, total climb 60,755 feet or 11.5 miles - that is 2.1 Everests!

Most northerly point on mainland
Dunnet Head with Orkney in background
Wow! Northern coast near Thurso

So what kind of people am I cycling with?  Nice ones (mostly - we all have our foibles).  Age wise I'm somewhere in the middle - there are several in their 60's and quite a few mid 50s, youngest are in their 40s.  There's lots of cycling tour veterans - people that started touring in the 1970s and have been doing it ever since. Two 'old men of the road' have done lejog several times before (why?).  There are 4 tour novices including me - sometimes half a couple where the other half is a keen cyclist. Incredibly we have 5 Australians who like me have struggled with the weather. Mostly it's couples, there are 6 couples (7 if you include the pair that had to abandon) and 7 single blokes. The vast majority are bonkers about cycling and never happier than when discussing previous tours, gear ratios, steep climbs, appalling weather, etc. Fortunately most can be engaged on other topics too.  An unscientific straw poll suggests that everyone has more bikes than me (I have two) - the next closest I could find was 3.5 (the half is a tandem!)

Made it to the north coast of Scotland and before the rain too

Fabulous scenery today from Tain to Bettyhill.  Sunny (for a little while) and dry (started raining after I reached the hotel) and spectacular big skies, lochs and open vistas.  We were on a single track road with passing places for 40 miles out of Lairg to Bettyhill - I had no idea there still were such things on the mainland.  Had lunch at Crask, a tiny place with just two buildings, service and food reminded me of Victoria Wood's "two soups" sketch - had to ride on quickly.  Still cold - I had on 4 layers - vest, thermal base layer, cycling Jersey and jacket - plus my lightweight 'waterproof' and had to keep pedalling to stay warm.

Tomorrow we reach John o' Groats (fingers crossed) - only 51 miles or so but a few short sharp hills - there will be celebrating (fingers still crossed)

Stats: miles today 70, total miles 1023, climb 2,520 feet.

Carr bridge in background and new waterproof over hat on my head
Last night the weather forecast promised light clouds and some sun so a bit disappointing to wake to the usual grey skies and steady drizzle.  Wendy who is Scottish refused to acknowledge that it was raining but whatever you call it thefirsthour and a half was wet.  Decent cycling territory though - I rode with Wendy and Atholl - and we made good time for the 35 miles to a first stop in Inverness.  Then up across the bridge out of Inverness - yes even the bridges are uphill - alongside busy road for a while before quieter roads appeared.  Bit of a slog up out of Dingwalls and then a long straight road to Tain.  Tea and cake to celebrate arrival.  Only two more days to go!
Stats miles today 72, total miles 953, climb 3,086 feet
Highest point - of course we had to pass that

Pitlochry to Nethybridge - skirting the Cairngorms.  The ride started with 20 miles, yes 20 miles, of gentle uphill to the Drumochter pass summit. The climbing was fine, the wind and rain and cycle path surface as we neared the summit were hard work - so glad to start going downhill out of the weather a bit - there's a photo on the photos page that gives some sense of how bad it was. Passed the Dalwhinnie distillery which smelt lovely - I had a wee dram when I arrived at the hotel to rekindle the memory. Once off the cycle path and back on the road was able to set a decent pace and only got soaked once more for the rest of the ride - the sun was even shining when I reached the hotel.

Stats: Miles today 69, total miles 881, climb today 2,558 feet, total climb 52,449 feet or 9.93 miles! (No wonder my legs are a bit tired)

Sma Glen - Plenty of time to admire the beautiful scenery as strong head wind

Beautiful Scottish scenery today, hills, glens, rivers and even a red squirrel.  Big climb (1000ft) out of Stirling woke up my rested legs and generally felt good even battling the strong head wind. Satnav decided it had had enough 6 miles from the end but I could almost see Pitlochry in the distance so it was no big deal - bit disconcerting though when you have been glancing down to follow a purple line for days to look and see a blank screen. Reminded of how many nice people there are in the world when a man in a cafe in Crieff gave me a £20 donation for Hanwell Neighbourly Care completely unasked - generous and amazing. He's planning a cycle tour around NZ after a 'health incident' - I thanked him profusely and wished him a fantastic ride.

Stats: Miles today 60, total miles 812, climb 4,367 feet

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