Saturday, September 7, 2013

Looking Back - Reflections of Possible Interest To Potential LEJOGGERS


I will happily remember... – less enjoyable bits – next time I will... – to keep safe on the road, I found it useful to... – statistics – money matters – contact and a few personal details

I will happily remember.....

  • having David's company and support on the trip. After he broke his leg, he could  have justifiably called off the trip altogether. Instead, he was an excellent friend, great support and he made my daily load lighter.
  • every day, because each day had many positives, each day was a new adventure, and a pleasure even when the wind was in my face
  • the exciting sense of anticipation when I rolled onto the road each morning
  • meeting the locals all along the way. That's when I could understand their accent. And, of course, when they could interpret mine. The great majority of people are welcoming and fun to meet. Flying the New Zealand flag was a frequent conversation starter.
  • taking time to visit with friends and relations. Our evening in Bolton stands out.
  • being prepared to change the schedule when a better option appealed
  • all of Scotland, even when the rain poured down.
  • Dentdale, Devon, Glastonbury; any rail trail, especially the Granite Line; the Kyle of Tongue; the Strathnaver Trail.
  • absorbing the local history and wanting to learn more once the interest had been generated
  • the strong sense of community, especially in small towns, especially in isolated regions.
  • going to bed early and getting up and getting on the road early, when possible. On the NZ trip I was often on the road by 0630: having 40 kms on the clock by 0900 is a satisfying start to the day.
  • every meal, especially pub meals: the Prawn Salad for high tea in Lairg, Rabbit Stew in Glastonbury. I think it is vital to eat as well as you possibly can. I certainly did, but still lost 5 kgs by the end of the trip!
  • reaching the summit of big hills and gliding down the other side. On the first big descent on the New Zealand trip, I quickly zoomed up to 67 kph, then saw what holes and gravel on the road might do to me at this speed and from then on kept below 60 kmp on the downhills.
  • the daily pint of cider........ sometimes the daily two pints of cider...and a little dram

    On the cliffs above Newquay on the second day of riding.

Less enjoyable bits

  • Very few. The A 9 between the second Inverness bridge and Evanton was not much fun. I would strongly recommend keeping to the minor roads and off the busier A roads, and to keep to the roads recommended by Lonely Planet who generally do a great job of advising you on the best and most scenic and safest route.
  • Steep hills, rainy days, head winds. Well, they are all part of the deal.

    David in front of the Launceston Castle Tower.

Next time, I will......

  • take a GPS. Not essential but helpful when you are picking your way through a spider's web of roads. Asking people for directions is, though, a good conversation opener.
  • go with a riding buddy.
  • organise a charity to support. This would have several benefits – financially for the charity, as a starter for conversation with people on the road, to spread awareness of the charity....
  • take more photos of people on the road. I focussed on taking pictures of places. I should have taken more pictures of the people we met. I can get a photo of, for example, Launceston Castle off the internet easily enough. I will never again get a chance to photogragh the two feisty women in Glastonbury.
  • get a card made up with name and email and address. Lots of people said they'd like to know how we got on for the rest of the trip. Handing them a card would make it easier to keep in touch.

    A splendid private country house outside Tiverton.

To keep safe on the road, I found it useful to.....

  • watch out for suddenly-opening car doors
  • take special care on roundabouts. I was super-cautious and often wheeled my bike across busy roads. Cars can appear from all directions on busy roundabouts.
  • take great care on a dual- lane road when riding across the face of exit and on – ramps. You are a target for cars leaving or coming onto the carriage-way and they may not be expecting to see you or they may misjudge your speed.
  • put sun-cream on my ears. No joke! Somehow the sun reflects off your helmet and can burn the tops of your ears quickly and painfully
  • wear fluro so that you can be seen for miles away
  • install a flickering red rear light
  • keep as far left as possible at all times on the road
  • pull off onto the verge on narrow roads whenever the vehicles start to pile up behind you
  • check my bike daily – brake pads, chain oil, brake tension, tyre pressure ( best to use a power pump)
  • carry Deep Heat for sore muscles
  • keep in mind that I am vulnerable on the road. However much I am in the right, I will always lose in a contest with a car or truck or bus
  • drink heaps of water, even when I don't feel thirsty
  • glance behind regularly

    The best signs, anywhere, for keeping you on the best riding  route.


Total distance – 1660 kms
Total Riding Hours – 103 h 24m
Average Speed – 16.03 kph.

New Zealand (the ride I did in 2009)
Total Distance – 3460 kms
Total Riding Hours – 241h 54m
Average Speed – 14.3kph

The moors of Scotland, isolated, sparsely populated, magnificent.

Money matters

David is a professional money manager and did a top job of managing our finances, including the creation of a spread-sheet summary of all our expenditure for the trip

  • Accommodation: we stayed in Bed and Breakfasts, cost ranging from 40 pounds per night for a twin room to 65 pounds per night. Two star hotels from 29 pounds up for two. Youth Hostels from 30 pounds up for the two of us.
  • Food: breakfast was usually provided in the accommodation cost and it was always a most substantial meal, cereal and fruit plus a full cooked plate-ful of eggs, sausages, tomatoes, hash-browns. Dinner – we sometimes cooked our own, but usually ate in pubs where you can get two meals from 6 pounds 50 up (for 2). I would strongly recommend making sure that you eat as well as you can afford.
  • I had the bike tuned and overhauled in Bolton, total cost of 45 pounds, including the cost of a new tyre.

    David with my nephew, also David, in Exeter, early in the trip.

Contact and a few personal details

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and formerly worked in education until 2009 when I reached retirement age. I now spend my time writing life histories, cycling, sailing and renovating rental properties.
I have cycled in New Zealand, Rarotonga, Germany, Switzerland and France and truly love life on the road
I also love sailing and life on the ocean and have done many miles of ocean sailing. In 2010 with friends, I sailed my own boat to Australia and spent the winter along the east coast. Sailing is similar to cycling in many ways. You get wet, rely on the wind for happiness and progress, carry your life necessities with you, get, at times a painful backside...... I could go on.......

If you want to ask any questions about LEJOG or about my trip in particular, please email me:

Bridgnorth, at the top of the funicular railway, looking down
 to the Severn River and the lower half of this very appealing town.

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