Personal Reflections

By Chris Johns (Support Team)

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I personally don’t think that any trip that The Bike Bus has been involved in prior to this Lejog has given me more motivation, encouragement, inspiration and self-belief. It sounds odd for me (the support van driver) to be saying that I have taken some great lessons away from a Land’s End to John O’Groats trip.  But I genuinely have; the dedication, humour, immense effort and hours of organising that have been involved from the cycling team have blown my mind.  It’s a huge challenge, and along with cycling 70 – 80 miles per day, each cyclist has under gone their own daily mental battles.

There were occasions on the trip that my co-pilot (Chris G) and I have marvelled at the team’s stamina, the sheer grit & determination of everyone.

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We were truly in awe of the cyclists and have a lot of respect for anyone that has the courage to undertake a challenge like this, to complete this challenge with health issues as some of these riders have is amazing.

See The Bike Bus for more information about our cycling services.

 

Personal Reflections

By Caroline Broekman

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Reflections on LEJOG
What an experience. I still cannot believe that we have covered the length of the country ON A BICYCLE!

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Our experiences have all been very different – some people’s favourite days were other’s worst. We have seen the best of our country – winding through the countryside and along canal paths – some of which were more cyclable than others. We managed to negotiate the industrial heartlands without seeing too much traffic as we ducked down to paths on disused railway lines and followed various waterways and other cycle tracks. The lake district was not kind as we were hit with an unexpected very cold, wet day which taught us so much about preparedness – or lack of it in our case.

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Scotland was breathtaking and the paths were good – there was only one day when we had to negotiate some miles on the dreaded A9 trunk road. The final day was my favourite – not because it was the last day but because the forecast was poor yet the sun won through after a few short miles, the scenery was stunning as we rode along a river valley from the East coast to the North coast and the roads were well surfaced and relatively traffic-free – so whizzing up and down them was immense fun.

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I feel so privileged to have been part of such a great team. We have all worked together to make this trip the success that it has been.

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Our support team of Chris and Chris were absolutely indispensable and went above and beyond expectation on a daily basis to ensure that as many of us as possible completed every day and ultimately the whole challenge. As a team we had our share of accidents and incidents and our thoughts are with Christine who was unable to complete the challenge. Many of us are already talking about joining her when she is able to ride the remainder of her challenge.

 

Personal Reflections

By Claire McBride

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Ten days post-Lejog …

So, Lejog … I am pretty sure it happened, but even now, I have to think twice. Did we really cycle 1,053 miles over 14 days? And have an amazing journey along the way? We did. And let’s not forget about the 55,595 feet that we climbed over that time too … I certainly won’t. On a bike, hills are my thing, but the Devon/Cornwall climbs left me wobbling.

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I still can’t quite believe that we made it, and that for two weeks, we got up early, day after day, to sit on a little sliver of a bike saddle. But we did, and it was awesome, I loved every minute … and with hindsight, even those minutes (ok, maybe a few hours!) when it was raining, cold, wet, utterly miserable and many of us were quite literally shaking. One day in particular, from Kendal, was tough, and I have the most immense respect for those who went back to pick up where they left off, as well as the two people who went back to support them. I would have loved to do that, but in my heart, I knew I did not have the resilience to go through those difficult 12 miles again. Kudos, big time.

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-20 at 08.40.25There were so many special moments … too many to put down in a post like this. They will stay with me forever. What an awesome team, with a truly inspirational leader and her other half, and the route planner … as well as the totally amazing support guys, Chris and Chris, and every single wonderful person I got to know along the way (especially good was seeing Tom and Derek in Pitlochry/Aviemore). This is up there as one of my top times in life. I loved the challenge, the team spirit and the adventure … and am already thinking about what to do next!

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Thank you Cycolpaths and everyone who helped us and joined in along the way. On the last day, a fellow cyclist came alongside me, and said exactly what I was thinking at that moment: ‘Claire, I don’t want this day to end’. It did, as they always do, but what a wonderful day that was.”

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Kendal to Carlise Revisited

A brief summary of Monday Sept 3rd – Kendal to Carlisle – by Karen Tiffin

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Pete and I joined the LEJOG Cyclopaths for 1 day and what a day! We departed from Kendal in the pouring rain and the group was quickly split up after some confusion over which side of the river to follow. I ended up in the front group, which Marianne described as the ‘mountain goats’. The first 10 miles were brutal – I growled and swore up the inclines and imagined the stunning scenery that was surely there, somewhere behind the clouds. It was still raining. We passed a farm with some furiously barking sheepdogs, which roughly translated to ‘what on earth are you mad humans doing?’ My calves started to cramp and Nigel (hero no. 1) nursed me up to Shap, despite the pain he was obviously in himself. It was still raining. We could get up some speed now and I hung onto Marianne’s back wheel like my life depended on it for the next 10 miles, until we stopped for a snack under some trees. Nigel and Hiro joined us. As we set off again my sodden shorts got stuck under my saddle and the next thing I knew I was on the floor! I looked up to see Hiro (hero no. 2), a vision of yellow, standing over me. With divine like strength he lifted the bike off me. He did some remedial repairs to my mis-shapen handlebars and off we went again. It was still raining. After another 10 miles we reached an oasis called Sainsburys – onlookers stared in disbelief as we sat shaking and stuffing hot food into our frozen bodies. This was fun! Marianne (hero no. 3) gave me some dry clothes to put on and we set off again. Unbelievably the group got split up at the first set of traffic lights! That’s probably because it was still raining. So, as a group of five, we forged on to Carlisle. This was where Pete and I left the Cyclopaths – to continue their epic journey to Scotland – what a wonderful and truly selfless and inspirational group of people they are. They are all heroes.

 

Personal Reflections

By John Anderson

I feel very proud to have completed the LeJog epic challenge and privileged to have achieved this with such a fantastic group of people. I am sure many have done this faster but I suspect few have had so much fun and support.

My starting point was my wife Alison and I cannot express my admiration and respect for what she has achieved. The actual challenge was only half of the story, as she was the mastermind behind the whole event and planned all of the logistics, hotel bookings, etc; dealing with all the associated problems along the way. Alison had good days and bad, highs and lows but, like us all, still cycled every last mile. Chapeau to her and all of us Cyclopaths.

Bolton Kendall49I am most proud of the team. This was exemplified by one of our worst days going up over Shap on the A6, freezing and absolutely drenched in driving rain. Alison was spent, broken and freezing to a point of being unable to use her gears or brakes. She had to stop. Her friends stayed with her and sought refuge until our ever-present support team of Chris and Chris scooped them up. They had all lost 12 miles of the route in the process of joining the rest of a soaking, cold bunch of Cylopaths in Penrith. After a couple of hours of defrosting and drying, the disappointment of not fully completing the challenge was too much. Together with Paula and Julia, Alison went back to the pick-up point to cycle the 12 miles they had been driven and the 49 miles to follow that, to reach our final destination on that day.

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Both myself and Caroline returned with this group to support and encourage them. This is something I needed to do for Alison, but it was also an example of how invaluable Caroline had become as chief route planner, navigator and general ‘go to’ person for everything – help, advice, medicine, encouragement and of course dinky-deckers. Caroline had already supported me with a snapped chain x3 and a big chase to catch up earlier in the route, when I confess the prospect of a lone cycle was a test of my resolve. Chapeau with bells on to Caroline. Everyone played a part on that very wet day. Our welcome, late into the evening in Scotland was celebrated and cheered by the whole group, we were together again and had a steely determination to do this.

The team grew with many people supporting in different ways. Friends and family cheered and rode with us, cooked and transported things around. Strangers we met were genuinely interested and encouraging. This was so special to me and there are too many to comprehensively name individually, but here are a few which stand out for me personally; Malcolm F, Tom M, Jim PW, Rob H, Jannette P, Neil H and the Bolton crew, triathlete James, Crawford Village Hall ladies, David C, Colin & Janet (in-laws), Julie (sis-in-law) Nancy & Margaret, Jules (Alison’s best friend), Louise and my own sister Alison and nephew Robbie. There are many more and we all were encouraged by the acts of kindness and support they offered and the words of encouragement they provided.

Our journey was a roller coaster with many thrills and some spills. The beauty and variety of the UK cannot be overstated. Hedgerow, canal paths, lakes and rivers, highlands, lowlands, coastline and forests. We saw it all. Unfortunately, Nigel did not see the post on the canal path. Despite significant injuries he completed the route – brave, uncomplaining he was a brick (and a very good cyclist too). Others had falls and most simply suffered scrapes and bruises along with bruised egos. Sadly, for all of us, another member was less fortunate and Christine’s journey was ended just inside of Scotland after a nasty fall left her with a fractured pelvis. This highlights the dangers we all faced on some difficult terrain and challenging slopes. Christine was very much missed and was with us in spirit in John O’Groats, linked by FaceTime – the wonders of modern technology enabling us to share this with her.

Hopefully you will have read Alison’s story. Please ensure you read Linda’s too. She is a remarkable individual. Her strength and resolve have only been matched by the support from her husband Mark. In the moments I found things tough, ached a bit too much or just was knackered, I look to Alison and Linda and then said to myself ‘man-up’. These people are inspiring and determined focused individuals – respect and congratulations.

I feel this is a bit of an essay. However, Land’s End to John O’Groats is a long way and many things happened. Whatever happened we had Chris and Chris, our support team and general ‘can do anything’ boys. Without them we would not have made it. They started as our support team and ended as part of our big family. Thank you for all you did.

For me it was both about the journey and the destination. The journey was rich, the destination a sense of relief and achievement. My memories outweigh my comments many times over. I will bore some of you with more reflections in due course I am sure. Thank you to everyone who made this a very special albeit tough couple of weeks.

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Take home messages!

  • LeJog is a long way to cycle
  • Scotland is stunning
  • Devon is more hilly than the Highlands
  • You get very cold and very hot, frequently on the same day
  • You learn to tolerate a sweaty smell
  • Your backside is sore despite the training
  • You learn what you should have brought on the trip, whilst on the trip
  • You need to dig deep
  • You do have fun
  • You learn a great deal about yourself and your bike
  • Texts and posts are great motivators and stimulants
  • Drinking and cycling can be recommended on the border to Scotland
  • Some days you simply just don’t seem to be ‘on it’
  • There are always moments to stop, savour, absorb and rejuvenate
  • Develop a strange appreciation for supermarket car parks, toilets and awful coffee
  • Although we are not exactly pros, we record every mile and time
  • You feel part of a team and a great achievement
  • You feel a better person because of this

We did it!

John Anderson

 

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