- the definitive resource
Frequently Asked Questions
Introduction . . .
The Cycle : End-to-End Resources contain everything that most people are likely to want or need to know to be able to plan and undertake the ride - if you have suggestions to improve the information, or tips and tricks, do please let me know.
Everyone's aspirations and plans for the ride are different - there is no "right or wrong way" ... it's a just a great ride!
The FAQs are not definitve or all-encompassing; answers are the view of the webmaster and/or contributors, without liability.
LEJOG or JOGLE?
DO NOT BELIEVE IT! . . . the wind statistics are highly inconsistent and the word "prevailing" is open to mis-interpretation - just accept that on some days it'll be behind you and others it will be head-on.
The logistics of getting to JOG are simpler for most people (see comments about trains)
Cycling south, in theory, will mean that the weather improves and for me, the countryside and a few more people around in the SW made it a more pleasant trip.
How many miles is it?
That distance uses a lot of main roads which many riders would prefer not to use, the "usual" distance for a fairly direct End-to-End will be between about 920 and 975 miles. That said, many riders choose to use routes taking in specific places, increasing the distances accordingly.
The webmaster's two End-to-End rides were about 935 miles for JOGLE in 2005, and about 920 for LEJOG in 2010 - following the same core route with a few small changes around the Bristol/River Severn area.
How long will it take?
Most riders take between 8 and 20 days, with the average somewhere around 14 - of course, daily distances covered are affected by any number of factors and personal preferences : style and speed of riding (racing along, or touring pace); the route taken; un-supported or supported (carrying own luggage, or with a vehicle doing so) ... the options are endless.
Taking two weeks is comfortable and provides a pleasant experience for most riders
Rest days ? - feedback seems to indicate that most people that plan (and take) rest days regret the decision - finding it harder to get started again after a day, or more, off the bike - preferring to keep the legs moving. The compromise that we used on our French trip was to schedule some half/shorter days to take in side-trips. (They were usually wine-related . . . touring a Champagne house, tasting at Nuits St Georges etc.)
What time of the year is best?
Where's half way?
For the popular "western" route - that's broadly : LE - Bristol - Warrington - Carlisle - Glasgow - Fort William - Loch Ness - Tain - JOG, the half-way point is somewhere around Lancaster/Carnforth. Most people are surprised at how far south that is ... there's a lot of Scotland up there!
How hard is the ride?
When I was asked the question after my first ride in 2005 my reply was: "It's not easy, but it's not as hard as I thought it would be"
For most people 1,000 miles on a bike is a long way - it is! - but with some training, a bike that suits you, common-sense, planning, realistic time aspirations and a willingness to "get on and do it" it's achievable for lots of people.
Solo, or in a group?
- lots of solo riders, probably more ride as a group of 2 ... - some bigger groups but accommodation etc becomes an issue - the ride itself is, relatively, easy ... but could be seen as lonely by a lot of people, pedalling along for miles and miles.
Obviously route, accommodation etc play a part in the decision.
My first E2E was to have been with one of my "Boys' Outings" pals ... being the BIG ONE as the culmination of a few longish, multi-day rides - however he was unable to commit and my first reaction was to go it alone.
How much will it cost?
Are there any "package tour" providers?
How do I get my bike to/from the start/finish?
The extreme points of the End-to-End are both about 17 miles from the nearest station.
Land's End - nearest station is Penzance where long-distance mainline trains terminate. It's an undulating but easy ride with the A30 being the most direct : there will be some traffic but in the webmaster's experience (4 rides) it was not over-fast.
John O'Groats - nearest stations are Wick or Thurso (on the same line) with an infrequent local service from Inverness. Both stations are an easy 17 miles or so from JOG - although the wind may be a challenge.
Bikes on trains are problematic and booking is always recommended - even if you turn up at the train and there is bike space it's possible that another rider has a cycle reservation from another station on the route and will take preference - it is not unknown for bikes and cyclists to be ejected from the train for lack of a cycle ticket.
Flying to/from Inverness is possible from a few places in the UK - it is also (sometimes) possible to fly to/from Wick but bike transport is variable and subject to passenger numbers (bikes are dealt with on a "standby" basis, without guarantee) The planes are very small, bikes replace passengers! [We did enquire about booking extra passenger tickets but this was not permitted]
How do I get to/from JOG/Inverness?
Train : if you choose this option, with the ride, ensure that you book and have a physical reservation/ticket for your bike (the webmaster's experience, which is not unique, is chronicled in Rob & Joe's JOGLE - No 176 in the Journals)
In the past Scotrail has run a bike van service (riders go on the train, bikes are taken by van to Wick) in the summer - it's worth checking if this is still the case
Taxi/van hire : there are several businesses offering van or car and trailer services between Inverness and JOG [see the Transport section on this website] - it's a long way and quite costly, but if there are a few people it's not too bad .... or post a message on one of the cycling newsgroups to see if anyone else is travelling the same day (the webmaster found a another group that used the return half of the journey with a car/trailer af the end of the 2010 LEJOG - that halved the cost)
Courier : It should be possible to pack a bike in a box (a used carton from a cycle shop) and send it to Wick or Thurso, perhaps to a cycle shop, hotel or B&B address. This is not without risk as the bike would have to be partially dis-assembled to fit in the box, and may suffer transit damage en route.
Where can I stay overnight?
There are numerous websites, of varying degrees of usefulness, that provide accommodation details and that is an obvious first option - another useful source, usually with a modest fee, is the local Tourist Information Centre (often run by the local authority) that often offers accommodation finding and booking.
Cycle : End-to-End is endeavouring to creat The Directory - listings of accommodation, cafes, cycle shops etc that riders have used - when you do your ride please make a note of places and send details using the input form on the website. We'll contact the establishment and ask if it wants to be listed*
AND, a cautionary note : Make sure you know EXACTLY where any accommodation you book is located relative to your route .... actual locations, especially in Scotland (and on some unscrupulous "information websites") may be some distance from the quoted town or village .... somewhere 30 miles off your route might be OK in a car, but not on a bike.
* At present this is on a no-cost basis to the establishment
What sort of bike is best?
"Cycling" the E2E has covered every sort of machine imaginable from unicycles and upwards! - just on our 2010 LEJOG we saw full-on carbon machines, Dawes and Thorn tourers, Trek hybrids, a couple of "bottom-of-the range BOGOF newspaper ad" machines, a tandem or two, two recumbents and a Brompton folder - they all seemed to be going OK.
My own rides were on a Dawes Galaxy - originally built in 1975 but, other than the frame and stem, upgraded to current standard components.
What spares and tools should I take?
It's all very well carrying this stuff . . . but you need some basic knowledge to be able to repair punctures and make minor adjustments. Bike shops are few and far between, although those that we did stop at were invariably very helpful . . . the usual request was to use the track pump to keep tyres up to pressure.
Tubes x 3
Spare spokes are a good idea, but not easy for most people to fix - a useful item I've come across (but yet to use in anger) is the Emergency Spoke - a Kevlar cord and clamp - CLICK HERE (new window) for details
Which are the best planning resources?
Lots of books and map related suggestions.
Maps, GPS ... or both?
Equally varied are the approaches to the ride . . . from the "set-off and stop when I feel like it" brigade to the "everything booked" rider.
My recommendation (and I'm in the book it all camp) is to have the route pretty much planned out - with options for some side-tracking if you want.
Using a GPS nowadays is a great way to do it with the vast range of PC and online mapping (see Resources here on the website) BUT it's not infallible - batteries will go flat, satellite signals may fluctuate, you can lose it/have it stolen ... and if you do get lost it may be a little difficult to see how to get back on course. It's for all those reasons that I would recommend you have at least a rudimentary old-technology map on paper.
Our 2008 French tour and 2010 LEJOG were both navigated with a GPS and detailed printed maps : Jon had the plotted route on the GPS, I had the printed map in the case on my barbag . . . it all worked
Summary : Use both!