Monday, 26 May 2008

Bags and beds

When I tell people I'm riding from Land's End to John O'Groats, one of the most common questions I'm asked is whether we'll have a support vehicle to carry our bags.

The answer is no. This isn't a professionally organised ride, it's simply a bunch of cycling chums going on a cycle tour. So we'll be carrying our clothes, tools, spares and personal things on our bikes.

Riding with loaded panniers is quite different from riding an unloaded bike. Cycing is much more of a steady trudge: you can't sprint up a hill, you have to engage low gear and wind your way up it. Although plenty of people have ridden the End to End in fourteen days carrying a full load (even carrying camping gear) , this isn't the type of cycling I particularly like. I don't want this to be a fortnight-long trudge.

I’m therefore going to try to carry as little as possible. No non-cycling clothes at all. There's no need to: we won't have time to do anything other than cycling anyway. And no camping gear: we'll be staying in bed and breakfast places, plus perhaps the occasional youth hostel or hotel.

We’re going to find places to stay as we go along: this means that we won’t be restricted by fixed overnight stops. If things are going really well we can go further. And if we have awful weather, or a breakdown, we can have a short day.

However we’ll need to keep up an average of about 70 miles a day if we are to reach John O’Groats by day 14. If we don’t get there in time, I’ll miss my booked train home, and I’ll have to explain to my boss why I can’t get back to work for several more days…

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