LEJOG Journal

Cycling Lands End to John O'Groats April 22nd 2011; 1000 miles, 10 days…will we make it?

Cycling JOGLE; route planning.

Quick post today about the joys of planning the route from John O’Groats to Lands End. For any other cyclists in the process of doing this, I’m sure you’ve found – as we have – this is not as simple as you’d think. I was expecting to pop on amazon.co.uk, buy a book, 2 minutes and job done. No no no, nothing that easy…but, we’re not here because we’re afraid of a challenge are we!

But first of all, we’ve got some big news! Jordan has finally brought his bike! At our planning get together over Christmas he’d got as far as the pedals and a pair of shorts, so the news that he has now got the full works is very good indeed.  It’s a sweet Trek 1.1 2010 at a bargain price from Evan’s – good work Jordi, I’m sure it’ll serve you well.

We’ve also got another possible waiting in the wings too. A regular mountain biker and work buddy of mine, Pete G, has broken ranks and purchased a road bike. Decision time soon though Pete, there’s some serious training to be done! Plus I’ll be putting rider profiles on the site soon, you wouldn’t want to miss that would you now!?

Anyway, back to what I was saying about planning this thing. I genuinely expected that it would be much easier than it is, but from everything I’ve read online and the books that we have, it turns out the only way to get a fully mapped out route is through good old fashioned DIY (well, if you can call Google Maps old fashioned DIY anyway).

We’ve used two books. The first, Land’s End to John O’Groats – The Great British Bike Adventure (by Phil Horsley) gives a decent overview, history and some good route overviews that keep off main roads. Very useful and pretty much essential reading but by the authors own admission it is nowhere near sufficient alone.

The second, Land’s End to John O’Groats – The Official Cyclist’s Challenge Guide (by Brian Smailes) focuses on a single route rather than giving options. This is a more direct route than the ones covered in the previous book, sticking predominantly to A roads. Again, useful reading but our thinking is that venturing away from the main roads will provide a more rewarding experience (we’ll see if that still holds true when we’re struggling along the hilly coastal roads in Cornwall!).

What these two books have given us is a good idea of the route to follow, we now just need to get it all mapped out. We’ve considered a few options, John’s Dad has even gone as far as painstakingly transposing the route from Brian Smails book onto a road atlas. Be warned, if you’re going to do this yourself you’ll need to a lot of room to lay it out end to end (an understanding local pub is always useful, as is having one of your riders on the staff there!).

The best option we came up with was to use Google Maps to choose the exact roads to follow, based predominantly on the routes in the Phil Horsley book. This is a really useful tool for the job, but over the weekend I stumbled across what looks like an even better alternative, based on Google Maps. It’s bikeroutetoaster.com and it does everything that Google does, but also gives route elevations, so at least we’ll know which days the pre-ride trepidation is fully justified!

Even with bikeroutetoaster.com and the books mentioned, it’s still a pretty big task and – let’s be honest – one that shouldn’t be this much hassle! However, we should hopefully have it sorted by the end of this week. Once we’re done, I’m going to make our route available on this site, hopefully saving some leg work for some people out there.

Will be checking in again soon to update you on the route and to let you how the first week of ‘training proper’ in 2011 has gone. It’s going to be painful!


Posted in Planning | 6 Comments

6 Responses to Cycling JOGLE; route planning.

  1. Jamie K says:

    Hi, Good info thanks, me and some friends are doing JoGLE July 2013, we will have a support vehicle and have already planned the Scotland part up until Glasgow (Pretty straight forward).. We plan to stay and go through Glasgow early morning and head towards Gretna, Carlise, Lancaster, Shrewsbury, Gloucester, Okehampton, Newquay (Stop for the night and have a couple of well deserved drinks) then LE.

    We aim to do it in 11 days! Raising money for Help for Heroes. You can read our story on our justgiving page ( http://www.justgiving.com/JamieKrauhausJoGLE ) .

    We will set up a website aswell soon, but any info and tips you can give us will be very helpful!!!


  2. Mike Wood says:

    I’d recommend you don’t ‘over-plan’ your trip. I mapped out my LEJOG route roughly on a road atlas, ripped out the relevant pages and then only decided the night before exactly which way i’d go (and why). Even then I varied it as the day progressed (eg. i had a fantastic day in Scotland and just carried on for 120 miles instead of the 75 I’d planned the night before). I had no accomodation booked and just got on the phone about 2pm once i’d decided roughly where I wanted to end up that night. The freedom (and randomness of accomodation!) this offered was well worth the uncertainty.

    Good luck to you. It was a wonderful experience for me and I’m now considering a winter JOGLE in January on same basis.

  3. Dave Barney says:

    Hi Gareth,
    Great site well done. Many a true word.. I’m planning to do my JOGLE in August 2012 and am at the moment plotting the route on Google. it’s taken me 12 hours so far and I’m still in Scotland? at this rate it’s going to take me longer to plot it than ride it. You would think someone would write a book of routes with places of intrest to visit along the way? hang on, I have a idea!!
    Good luck to you and your team, I’ll keep an eye out for updates and any tips you may have.


    • Gaz says:

      Hi Dave, thanks for the compliment on the site! Hopefully it proves useful. Check out mapmyride.com, it’s easier to use and more informative than google. You do have to pay a small fee to print the maps though, but it’s what I plan on doing as it will only cost about £10 total.

      If you want to be automatically informed of updates, use the email subscription box on the right of the home page.

      Good luck with your LEJOG if I don’t speak to you again before!


      • Dave Barney says:

        Thanks for the info on the mapping site Gaz I’ll try that. I’v read quite a few comments on which way to do the ride (LEJOG or JOGLE) I’m still planning on JOGLE. Be intresting to find out how you and the team get on with your route so I’ve signed up for the updates.

        Good luck

        • Gaz says:

          Hi again Dave. I must admit, I would prefer to be heading south as you are; I don’t know why it just feels like a more ‘natural’ end point. However, with us doing our ride in April we’re thinking the weather could go either way, and if heading north means we are more likely to avoid head winds, then I’ll take all the help I can get!

          Keep in touch and let me know how your training and plans are coming together.