Planning the end to end
Getting a cycle route, the timing right and accommodation
I decided on doing my John O'Groats to Lands End ride in 2010. In fact, I had chosen to do it in 2012, back in the 60's a friend and myself had a conversation about 'When I'm 64', after the Beatles song of course.
That conversation stuck with me and my first thoughts were to do it at that age, but life has it that as the years go on, each one has an ache it didn't have the year before. I didn't want to be 75 and think 'if only', so I brought it forward a year.
There were two key factors here 1. What route would I take and 2. How long would it take me. After deciding I was going to do it north to south (I didn't want too many people overtaking me all day long!) I went about searching the Internet and Books. It soon became apparent that the vast majority do it south to north so I was lumbered with either reading a book or a map upside down (apparently there are upside down maps).
Luckily I found a route which seemed good and paid a small amount to the Macmillan Charityto get a copy of the CD (Rob and Joe's JOGLE.
This had much information and quite detailed maps of a route to take, so that was that sorted more or less.
The next thing was to work out a time which I would feel comfortable with and after looking at all the towns they had cycled to, bearing in mind my time commitments with training etc., I came to a figure of around 27 days - that was too long, so went back to the Drawing Board. After a while, I got it down to 24 days.
I wasn't missing this every morning!
This may seem a longish trip but I was determined to see a bit of Scotland whilst there. Having never been there before, it seemed a shame to rush through and not experience the scenery and the people. I'm very glad I did this.
So, the first 7 days I set an easier pace which ranged from 30 miles a day to 42 miles a day, or at my average speeds would be about 4 - 5 hours pedalling.
I should add here that to save carrying loads of separate maps, I brought a Road Atlas, one which showed B Roads as well and tore the appropriate pages out and simply got each one out as and when I needed them. As a back up and also a way to keep in contact, I took my Netbook along as well (1.2 kg). Even then I followed my nose on more than one occasion!
Accommodation on Route
I pre-booked all my accommodation through Scotland, five nights were to be spent in Bed and Breakfasts, one in a Hostel and one at a friend's house in Dumbarton.
I had thought about only doing Hostels, but as were most are £18 and for the extra £5 - £12 more I could have my privacy and a hearty breakfast each morning, that seemed the best and most cost effective option.
After Scotland I decided I would play it by ear. If the weather and my physical state were in a par and I was pretty sure where I was going to get to, I would book a B&B for the following night, or simply, once again, just get on my Bike and see where I was at around 3pm every day.
This may seem a bit loose, but it was how I wanted it and all bar one night when I had a hard time finding a place, worked extremely well. I had a bed for the night and a full stomach the next morning, that did me! Bear in mind this was a solo and un-supported ride - if thing's went wrong, it was down to me.
I'd also considered Camping, but felt again that this would not only be time consuming but should the weather be bad it would not be such a good experience.
Should I be in a situation of emergency after falling off or not finding a Bed and Breakfast further down the route, I had a body heat retaining Bivvy bag which weighed 200 grams compared to my lightweight Tent, Sleeping bag and Mat which came in at three and a half kilos.
When should I JOGLE?
Because I work in the Cricket world I knew this would be difficult, but as luck would have it, Kent were away from home quite a bit during June and july and by going when I did, I just missed the twenty/20 games at home, five in total.
The most popular time seems to be June and this was confirmed upon seeing so many Cyclists along the way, all be it they were all going in the opposite direction!