Well, I’ve been home a couple of days now and had my first day back at work. Just thought I’d use this last post to share a few reflections, figures, and photos.
I’ve also written a couple of lists – one of kit and one of thoughts on the accommodation we used. I’ve put these at the end, as I guess they’re probably more either for real enthusiasts for the blog or (more likely) someone looking for information before embarking on their own ride, just like I was over the last few months.
In general terms, it’s probably fair to say that the first week was mainly hard work – especially the first 2 or 3 days – and there were a few times when I thought that we’d been over-ambitious to try to do a 14 day route in 12 days, albeit with a rest day in the middle. If we were to do it again, or if we were advising someone doing the ride, we would say to take a few more days if you can, and enjoy a bit more some of the great places that you ride through.
The second week was much more enjoyable and we really benefited from the rest day. The scenery in Scotland was stunning and there were plenty of places I’d love to go back to. The Crask Inn is probably the most remote pub I’ll ever visit.
A few stats to finish this main part of the post with (in no particular order):
1. Approximate total mileage – 980-1,000 (my bike computer said 982 but the Garmin map – before we lost it – reckoned it was a shade over 1k)
2. Latest finish – around 11.30pm (Minehead)
3. Top speed – a slightly scary 44.8mph (going down a 26% hill in Devon), followed by around 42.5mph on our favourite hill in Scotland.
4. Approximate cumulative climbing – 42,000 feet (12,801 metres).
5. Mechanical issues with the bikes – three (Andy’s crank coming off and Phillip’s chainring jamming, plus me needing another new cassette and chain in Carlisle) plus some one set of brake pads, and some minor tinkering. To be fair, the crank had come off before so that was a pre-existing problem.
6. Worst injury – me slipping over in Asda before we got on the ferry to Arran when I got a minor cuts and grazes (note to self: bike shoes have no grip when not on bikes, especially in the wet!). Plus some minor bruising for Phillip when he came off near Ratlinghope.
7. Punctures – none!
I’ve listed where we stayed (when we weren’t with friends or family) and my, completely unscientific, thoughts and feedback.
Day 1 – Boscastle YHA – seemed nice enough. Lovely setting but basically got there, had something to eat, slept, got up and left again so can’t really comment.
Day 2 – Minehead Backpackers’ Lodge – friendly warden who is a keen cyclist (unless you are very fit, don’t believe him when he tells you how long it takes to get from A to B – he reckoned 5-6 hours from Boscastle to Minehead and it took us about 12!). Accommodation is basic but fine.
Day 3 – Monmouth Bistro Prego – right in the town centre. Nice setting. Friendly. Let us leave bikes in the restaurant bit overnight. Room itself was OK but not brilliant for the price.
Day 4 – Ratlinghope YHA – Angela (warden) was very friendly and chatty. Not sure they get many staying there. She made a really nice pack lunch and gave Phillip a lift to Church Stretton when his bike was broken so that he could get the train to Shrewsbury. Very knowledgeable about bikes. Apparently a really nice pub in the village but we were too knackered to go!
Day 5 – (staying with family in Preston)
Day 6 and 7 (staying with friends in Carlisle)
Day 8 – Prestwick Travelodge. It’s a Travelodge – not much to say, really. Staff were nice and took our bikes into the staff room overnight. They won’t let people have them in their room after one guy ruined a bathroom by trying to wash his bike in the shower, getting oil everywhere and causing a lot of damage!
Day 9 – Oban SYHA. Recently refurbished. Very nice accommodation. Whatever you do, don’t buy the packed lunch – worst sandwiches I’ve ever had!
Day 10 – Loch Ness SYHA. Very basic but fine. No real food available. Separate shed for the bikes. In the morning we noticed a B&B over the road which was cheaper (compared to the price of a private room) and would have included breakfast.
Day 11 – Crask Inn. Definitely recommend this place. Very out of the way but friendly welcome and good food and drink. Not especially cheap (£45 each for dinner, bed, and breakfast) but would certainly go back if I was anywhere near.
Day 12 – Thurso “Bed and Breakfast @ 4”. Beautifully furnished. Reasonable price for the quality (£60 between us for the room). Very friendly owner who has done the LEJOG herself and welcomes cyclists.
I may have missed off one or two things.
Bike – Specialized Allez (no pannier holes) with Continental GPS 4 seasons (Phillip was running the Continental Gatorskins)
Bags – Carradice SQR Tour, Revelate Framebag, Revelate Sling (plus drybag)
Bike kit – wet and dry weather lube, multitool, chain tool, spare chain links, cable ties, pump, 2 x spare inner tubes.
Plus clothes and wash kits, etc.