Introduction: John O' Groats to Lands End Bike Ride

Hey Guys!

This summer, myself and two friends cycled from John O' Groats (the most northerly point of the UK) to Lands End (the most southerly point).

This is a guide on how to plan the trip, complete the trip and earn a great deal of money for charity.

We raised a collective £4500!

I'm entering the Epilog Challenge, so if you like this please vote for me!

On to the next step!

Step 1: Plan!

This is a massive part of the bike ride, if you don't plan your route well you'll find yourself riding on broken tarmac and getting cut up beyond belief by busy commuters! There are some roads you cannot avoid without going miles out of the way, but there is a great deal of roads that can be changed.

The route we chose, as not by any means the shortest. There were certain places/things/people we wanted to see on the way. Our trip ended up at 1004 miles, but you can do it i around 900 miles if you wanted.

We decided to complete the ride in 12 days, roughly 80 miles a day. This isn't by any means a massive distance per day, but when you're doing it day in day out, sleeping in a tent, and cooking all your meals; it's certainly enough!

I started my planning with an A2 map of the UK, i drew a line down the middle of what looked like the best route, divided it into 12 different point, and then found campsites near each of those points. I then went onto google maps and found each individual route, making use of street view to see what the road conditions were like when it seemed we would be on that road for a long time.

I've linked up the route cards we made and used, to give you an idea of what you can do. They are fairly simple, but they got us there!

Step 2: Get Sponsored!

If you're gonna attempt this feat, it might as well be for the good of the needy. If you do want to be sponsored, here's what I did.

- Setup a Just Giving account.
Just Giving is a website where people can donate money to you, it makes a useful way to get sponsored by people you don't see that often.

-Setup a blog.
A blog is a great way to for people to keep track of your progress.
There are thousands of different blog sites out there, I used Posterous. On Posterous, you can update your blog just by emailing  the website. This was great when out on the road, I did it all on my smartphone.
Here is a link to our blog that we updated throughout the ride.

- Ask around!
I was surprised at the willingness for people to sponsor me, go round your college/workplace with your sponsorship form.

Try local business's too! maybe entice them by mentioning that they sponsored you in the local paper?

It never hurts to ask!

Step 3: Bike and Luggage

To keep costs down we decided that we would camp. So the next problem was, what do we take? It was a case of ultralight camping. So here is a list of the things we took:

3 man tent - split between the three of us
Sleeping bag - the smallest one i could find
Roll mat - I used an ordinary foam one, but my friend used one of those fancy new inflating ones which looked quite cool
Travelling towel
2 pairs cycling tops - wash one, wear one
2 pairs cycling shorts
2 pairs of socks
2 pairs underwear
Long fingered gloves (for scotland)
Half fingered gloves
Thermal top
Thermal leg tights things
Cooking stove
Pots, pans
Insect Repellant (Midges in scotland are terrible)
Cycling shoes
Flip flops -  no room for real shoes :(
2 Spare inner tubes - you can pick up more on the way
Tyre levers
Allen keys
Puncture repair patches
3 water bottles - two on bike, one in front bag
Front and back lights (can be used at campsite too)

Wow, that's a lot of stuff to put on my poor bike.

I used a rear pannier rack, with panniers. I used a net bungee to strap the sleeping bag and sleeping mat to the panniers. Put them both in waterproof bags/bin liners.

WATERPROOF EVERYTHING, turning up at a campsite with soggy clothes, and wet spares is not a nice sensation, TRUST ME!

Its also really good idea to waterproof everything overnight in the tent as everything tends to get a bit damp then too. 

I would suggest investing in some dry bags, I wish i did!

Bike maintenance was done mainly by ourselves, we all new how to repair punctures and stuff. We did have a case were one of my friends rear wheel spokes broke, but luckily it lasted to the nearest bike shop!

Nutrition is REALLY important, we were eating well over 6000 calories per day! After all, we where cycling roughly 8 hours a day.

6000calories x 12 days / 1000 miles makes about 72 calories a mile - that's about half a banana every mile!

Keeping hydrated is even more important. You need to be constantly drinking throughout the day. Fill up your bottles whenever possible.

One last note: Saddle Sore!
There is no point avoiding the subject - sooner or later it'll hit you. Constant movement of your legs creates rubbing, and once the rubbing starts it will only get worse. The best way to combat it, is to never let it rub. I used vaseline during the day, plaster it on. And in the evenings once i'd showered I used E45 cream. This seemed to work pretty well.

Step 4: DO IT!

Once you've got all the preparation out the way just go out there and start. You'll create a lot of great memories and the feeling of achievement once you've finished is unbelievable! Don't underestimate it, it's hard work.. but put in the training and you'll do it!

I hope i've inspired you to embark on this challenge, and if you don't live in the UK, then cycle somewhere else!

I'm happy to answer any questions on the ride, so ask away!

I'm entering this instructable into the Epilog Challenge, so if you liked it please, please, please VOTE!

Many thanks, Mat

Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge