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!