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LEJOG – The Ups and Downs of a Solo Ride Across Britain Land’s End to John O’Groats on an ElliptiGO bike by Idai Makaya


y big cycling project for this year was to ride across Britain – solo – from Land’s End to John O’Groats (affectionately referred to as “LEJOG”) on my ElliptiGO bike. I was hoping to step things up this year by riding completely self-sufficiently. So I had prepared myself for this by doing largely (but not exclusively) solo DIY Audax rides - starting with a 200km ride at the Poor Student Audax in January 2016, a 300km solo DIY in February, a 400km solo DIY in March, then another DIY 200km in April – another DIY 400km in May, and finally a DIY 200km tandem ride with my friend Steve, also in May. I did a lot of strength and endurance work in my training – but no speed work at all


Arrivée Summer 2016 • No.133

– which was a first for me in long-distance cycling training. I also did most of my training on an indoor trainer, in the house, because my wife was going back to university and I would need to be on childcare duty three evenings a week. But every Sunday morning I would do a real ride on the road, for about 4 hours’ duration at moderate to high intensity. My indoor sessions were done at really low intensity (heart rate zone 1 - for those who understand heart rate monitoring) so most of my fitness actually came from the harder 4 hour ride on the road. The kit I took for the ride was pretty sparse: two T-shirts, a long sleeved base layer, short leggings, long leggings, two sets of underpants, a handkerchief (I’m not sure

why?), an old fashioned bedside alarm clock (I know exactly why!), and a lightweight bivvy sleeping bag (which folds to the size of a flask but is genuinely weatherproof ). I had also mailed a box to the B & B in John O’Groats where I had planned to stay after the ride, so that I could have some fresh normal clothing, my computer to upload my data and results – and some toiletries. I took two identical Garmin Etrex GPS devices (one borrowed from my friend Stu) – because I had needed one for back-up recording, as it was a DIY by GPS ride and I did not want to risk finishing with corrupted data. I also had a Spot tracking device, to provide live satellite tracking throughout the ride. The live tracking was to allow friends and acquaintances to follow the trip as it had unfolded, but also because I was not only doing it as an Audax ride, it was also being verified by Guinness World Records (against the current record of 6 days and 10 hours for riding across Britain on an elliptical cycle) and Guinness require live tracking for such record attempts. On ride day – 26 May 2016 – I awoke feeling quite nervous! My trip to Land’s End started around 10am (after dropping the children at school – and bidding my wife Ivy good luck in a Maths exam she was writing that same day). My trip was quite a long one and I had found it difficult to eat anything along the way (nervousness)! Much of the car journey went along the same route I would be riding, so I had used the drive to the starting point as an opportunity to plan ahead for the ride. I was a little apprehensive of the dual carriageways and motorway-like conditions I would be riding in, as well as the amount of undulation in the route (especially as I had entered Devon and Cornwall). I had stopped for a coffee at a service station along the M4 motorway and also bought some new Ironman brand sunglasses there, to replace my previous sunglasses (which were lost during my 215km DIY tandem Audax ride with Steve, two weeks before). That purchase of the sunglasses had left me feeling completely ready for the journey ahead. I had reached Penzance, where the car hire people were kind enough to allow me to drive on to Land’s end (some 20-miles away) so that I could start on time. They’d then collected their hired van from there later in the day, after we’d arranged for me to leave it in the Land’s End Hotel parking lot. Arriving in Land’s End I was impressed with the beauty and tranquillity of the place. The

Arrivée 133 - Summer 2016  

Arrivée is the free magazine of Audax United Kingdom, the long distance cyclists’ association, which represents the Randonneurs Mondiaux in...

Arrivée 133 - Summer 2016  

Arrivée is the free magazine of Audax United Kingdom, the long distance cyclists’ association, which represents the Randonneurs Mondiaux in...