John O’Groats to Land’s End – JOGLE on!

Simon and friends take on the famous End to End the other way round

Simon (second from right) and his crew at their destination

Riding end to end had been on the bucket list for the last few years so I floated the idea with a few of my friends. We’ve all done lots of riding in the past: club rides, sportives, triathlons and cycling holidays. So it felt like a natural progression to try a big multi-day challenge. 

After lots of discussion, we chose to ride the route the other way around (John O’Groats to Land’s End). Mainly to appease our other halves as finishing in Cornwall offered a nice holiday prospect with our families. We did consider the wind direction which is usually south westerly. But I thought ‘how bad can it be?!’ Fortunately, there was only one and a half days where we really felt like we were riding into a head wind.  

Five of us did the ride: myself, my brother and three of our friends. Four of us are quite experienced riders, the other chap was relatively new to cycling. None of us had ridden 100 miles back to back over a number of days so we did feel a bit apprehensive about how it would go.  

We set off by train to Inverness where we stayed the night in the Premier Inn, then we got a transfer ridiculously early to get us up to John O’Groats for 08:00 in the morning to start. The journey down was then mainly Premier Inns (the attraction being you can take bikes into the rooms) with a couple of treats thrown in. 

On the third night we stayed at Ingliston on the outskirts of Glasgow where in a chalet with hot tub which was great. Every other chalet was taken up by a wedding party so we struck a bit a contrast strolling out in our Lycra in the morning. We also made sure the sixth day finished at our home village of Inkberrow, most of us grew up here, so we could have a beer with family and friends. 

My parents formed the support crew in their motorhome so we can’t say we did it unsupported but I think we were all OK with that. It was invaluable having our kit carried for us and it proved to be quite nice stopping for tea and cake along the route. It wasn’t quite the Team Ineos bus but not far off! 

I rode my Trek Emonda which was fantastic, other than a puncture I didn’t have any mechanical issues. We were all pretty meticulous cleaning the bike, lubricating the chain and prepping it for the next day’s ride. Baby wipes were a great resource, a top recommendation.

Scotland was one of the highlights of the route, riding through amazing scenery like Loch Ness and Glencoe. Day 6 was also beautiful weather and as we were ahead of schedule, we found a nice coffee shop in a little village and spent a good hour relaxing and just taking it all in. 

There were definitely tough days though. Day 5 through the Lakes was one. It was very windy in the morning so really hard going, and I think we averaged about 12mph for the first 2 hours. It was also very lumpy which meant the last quarter was a real struggle. We thought Day 7 would be the easiest day, as it was short and flat but it turned out to be tricky, fighting a head wind for the majority of the way. Not being mentally prepared for it was a big mistake.   

One of the guy’s knee got quite sore towards the second half of the ride which meant he needed a good hour to get it warm in the morning. We also used Chamois cream very liberally to mitigate the risk of more delicate injuries, fortunately we had no problems there. Mechanically, we didn’t have much trouble at all, other than a few punctures. One guy had a pedal problem but managed to get hold of spare quickly from his dad who was helping that day, our very own team mechanic!

I’d 100% recommend riding end to end. It’s a great experience, you get to see the UK in a totally different way and it’s definitely achievable for most riders. You can also tailor whichever way you like, supported, unsupported, taking 8 days or 14 days. There are so many options but whatever way you choose the real reward is spending time on the bike with your friends.  

Big thanks go to our other halves for letting us have nine days to do the ride while they toiled at home with the kids! Thanks to my parents for being the support crew. Also a big thanks to everybody who donated to our JustGiving page for the Salvation Army and to the people we met at Land’s End who made a spontaneous donation. We were lucky enough to be invited down to the Salvation Army’s carol concert at the Royal Albert Hall, amazing to see all the great work they are doing.