Andy’s LEJOG Summary Part 1

The start of our cycle expedition from Land's End

Terrible weather at the start of our LEJOG cycle tour

Ahhh how nice it is to be seated and not have to squirm about on a saddle to find the optimal position from which your ball sack ceases to ache….I jest of course, there is no optimal position from which your balls will not ache when cycling 100 miles per day. This is one of many interesting facts that Matt and I have learnt on our LEJOG trek, some of them are not completely related to our groinal regions, but most are. If you are of a sensitive disposition or my Mum, please flick back to Facebook and ignore this post….

This was it. The big warm-up for next years mammoth journey from London to Sydney. At approximately 1000 miles it is only 1/12th the distance we may cover but when we awoke on the morning of the 21st August there was a tension that was palpable (and from Matt’s corner, audible). I was in a bad mood as I’d managed to lose my bike’s cycle computer and my phone battery was dead. I’d also discovered that Matt and I would have to cycle the 10 miles to our start point at the most south western point of Britain from our youth hostel in Penzance through the miserably misty and damp morning conditions, this wasn’t part of the plan….day one and already things had gone to shit!

Once we’d gotten under way my mood lifted and I was back to my only slightly less grumpy old self, the road was good and the hills were not too steep so I managed to convince myself that this 10 miles was a warm-up for the main event.

Upon reaching Land’s End we were overwhelmed…I’ve never seen such amazing amounts of mist and fog. So with our view of the Atlantic blighted we set off…I mean I’ve seen the ocean before, it’s big and blue (well, mostly brown around the English coast) but it would have been great to have been sent off on our merry way with the glittering blue (brown) of the ocean at our backs.

Post embarrassing photos and video blog we lined our steel stallions at the official start point and began our expedition with a few whoops and a high five that, in retrospect, may have looked a bit stupid…

The start line at Land's End

The start line at Land’s End

Our first day was a bit of an eye opener for me. I’d expected the journey to be tough and was aware that I’d struggle given that I’d never cycled with fully laden panniers before but knowing and experiencing are distinctly different. I was finding the going very difficult. The heavy rain and constant climb along our chosen route past Bude was really pissing me off.

I was also riding using SPDs and cleats for the first time. For the uninitiated this means that my feet are clipped to the pedals of the bike and in order to release them a quick twist of the ankle is required. If you don’t then once you’ve come to a stop you’ll topple over to one side…as I did, not that I didn’t get my foot free, I just picked the wrong foot. Fortunately my fall was broken by my elbow which still hurts by the way, though not as much as my pride.

Come 6PM and Matt had zoomed on ahead to get to the camp site before dark, his whippet like frame more geared towards endurance activities compared to my more, erm, well rounded physique. Fortunately I’d picked up a pint of Redbull earlier on in the day and this gave me the lift I needed to power up the hill that I was at that point affectionately referring to as F**king B**tard and make it to Willow Valley camp site, just off the A39 where a smug looking McDonald had already pitched his tent.

My good humour was restored by a decent hot shower and the kindness of the proprietors of the site who let me charge my phone on their home PC.

After a restless night at the site we were in for a bit of a shocking day. Our route was planned to be the most scenic and avoid major A roads where possible. As you may have seen from a previous post this route took us through some of the most beautiful spots within the British Isles; Exmoor National Park, The Wye Valley and the Mendips, The Lake District and the Western Coast of Scotland would all be checked off the ‘Places to see before I die’ check list. One of the chief attributes of said areas of outstanding beauty is that they tend to offer the visitor a splendid vista over the countryside, this, of course, requires a bit of height…Completely ignorant of this fact we set off, damp, cold and without breakfast. We were doomed from the outset.

70 miles later we struggled into Crowcombe, still damp, still cold and completely buggered! The hills we encountered that day, though not vertical climbs or thousands of meters in altitude were relentless, one came after another without much in the way of a decent descent to make you feel better about the whole experience. Yes Exmoor did serve up some terrific views and our coastal route took us through some lovely provincial towns but this was slightly overshadowed by stiff legs, sore backsides and the frustratingly slow progress made over the hills.

Physically I didn’t feel too bad, yes, my legs became as stiff as Wayne Rooney in a brothel if I sat down or otherwise rested for any longer than 10 minutes and there was a slight numbness and tingling in my groin which wasn’t all that unpleasant, if I’m honest…the rectal haemorrhaging on the other hand was not something from which I could easily turn the other cheek…

I don’t want to dwell too much on such a base topic (puerile humour? me!?) but it was almost as if my seat had been designed by the Marquis de Sade on a bad day.

It wasn’t all bad though, we found a nice boozer and had a good feed and I managed to put away a pint of Proper Job. We also got our first sponsor – Jos Bennett, £10 to War Child, thanks very much….I do feel that his drunken state and generous nature had more to do with the donation than my compelling argument! The high point of the day was finding almost an entire box of Cadbury’s chocolate rolls in my bedside drawer at the B&B.

Day three rolled around and with it the Quintock Hills. Not entirely what we’d hoped for after a fairly big breakfast, the steepest hill yet. Even I, with my powerfully chunky thighs, was forced to walk up it yet we were greeted by more spectacular views of the English countryside from atop Quantock Common.

30 miles of awesome flatness followed as we raced into Bristol passing such quaint English tourist retreats such as Cheddar Gorge and Wookie Hole (which I briefly thought was the name of a George Lucas porno).

The climbs of the day were provided by the Medips and the journey up into Clifton, Bristol where we ate pasta like ravenous savages at the White Lion Inn that offered us a great view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

That night we made it to the A49 and just north of Hereford town to a place called Moreton on Lugg, how would I describe such a place? let me say that if England’s towns and cities were a giant extended family then Moreton on Lugg is the slightly deformed and socially awkward inbred cousin that nobody likes to talk about…I think ‘Lugg’ may actually be the name of most of the residence of this dark and terrible place. The camp site in which we found ourselves was populated by social misfits, some of whom appeared to live there. Cuckoo Corner camp site by name and by nature. The place, sandwiched between Leominster and Hereford is hardly a tourist hotspot or an area of outstanding natural beauty. With little going on Matt and I were forced to play the biscuit game to pass the time until our Chinese takeaway arrived…

I think I’ve waffled on for long enough…catch part 2 of my account soon. If you’ve any questions about the trip or wish to defend Moreton on Lugg then please leave us a comment below.

Cheers,

Andy
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7 Responses to “Andy’s LEJOG Summary Part 1”

  1. Adam says:

    Most amusing Madeley. Hope the rectal haemorrhaging has cleared up.

  2. […] the last post we discussed the hell hole that is Morton on Lugg…Here is the continued tale of our exploits […]

  3. […] The night kicked off with Mr Oli Broom who we secretly despise for having such a genius idea of cycling to the Ashes. His brief depiction of his travels and the marvellous pictures was only marred slightly by the mac liking one slide so much that it wouldn’t move on. Parts of Oli’s adventure did strike us, or at least me, with some trepidation, especially the immense distances involved in Australia. where the miles between each town can be the same distance as Lands End to John O’Groats. […]

  4. […] rolling hills of Hereford, Worcestershire and Shropshire are very beautiful and I felt, as I did on our trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats that the British countryside is massively underrated. Yes the weather is crumby for 8 months or so […]

  5. I have to say that for the past few of hours i have been hooked by the amazing posts on this site. Keep up the wonderful work.

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